Thursday, December 27, 2012

We didn't know what to think

A traditional Cape Cod hockey game -- a sport endangered?  Or is that just a caption to tie this cool photo with my post?

On my desk, for a while, has been sitting a front page of the Bangor Daily News with an article by Amateur Naturalist Dana Wilde. He says what I have been saying for a long time. Everyone wants to believe that climate change is a hoax. Everyone wants to believe that science is wrong, even if it manages to be right about absolutely everything else, specifically the electronic device I am using to type these words, the invisible electrons carrying them over wires, the satellite dish riveted to a spruce on my front lawn, the nether-regions of space, and whatever invisible blogger server distributes these words, these very same words, directly into your computer or tablet or phone or e-reading device. Yes, the scientists are right about computers. They're just wrong about carbon dioxide.

Several readers reassured me earlier this month with a few pats on the head that climate change, if it's even happening, is a natural occurrence that's nothing to do with us and moreover, to jog me out of naivete, that global warming is a hoax. Don't worry, be happy, we were sagely advised in the 80s.

Here are some points I've heard meant to reassure me there's no need to worry about climate change or global warming:

-It still gets cold in winter.
-Earth's climate has always changed and always will change.
-Global warming is just a theory.
-There is no proof that the exhaust from my car hurts anything.
-Scientists are often wrong.
-Scientists fake climate research findings.
-Global warming is not mentioned in the Bible.
-There was no Y2K disaster (or 2012 Mayan disaster, I could add).

The problem I have with these arguments is that I believe in the existence of computers, cellphones, penicillin, bone marrow transplants, and internal combustion engines. I also believe in photosynthesis, DNA, infrared light, blood types, and the theory of relativity, although I have never seen any of these actual items or processes with my eyes.

What I mean is that the same method of study—namely, “the scientific method”--has led to microchips, life-saving chemistry, and electronic communication.
At this point, maybe I'm preaching to the choir. But I encourage you to rethink your presuppositions when it comes to science, and particularly the scientific method. How have all of the scientific advances of the last 200 years come about? By the persistent and dedicated effort of scientists on an endless pursuit of absolute truth, of matter in motion, of data tracking. Data doesn't lie. It can't. We're the ones who are lying.

I was excited to hear an ad on Maine public radio for Union University, the first college in the US to divest its endowment from investments in fossil fuels. No, I haven't done it yet. I quail. But we'll do it, or we'll die.

Divest. Protest. Grow vegetables.

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