Thursday, August 11, 2011

170. Science is real, not an opinion

AT&T's official policy on global warming is, "Climate change is a fact, and the scientific evidence so far seems to implicate greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, as the cause of climate change."

ExxonMobil admits in its policy statement, "Rising greenhouse-gas emissions pose significant risks to society and ecosystems." Likewise, UPS states that, "As a global transportation company, UPS acknowledges that Greenhouse Gas Emissions impact the climate and pose a serious challenge to the environment - and ultimately the global economy."

On and on it goes, corporations conceding what is a near consensus in the scientific community. Their admission, if we need to call it that, seems reasonable and responsible. However, it does not mean that corporations are happy about it.

ThinkProgress noted that these same corporations are also contributing to at least one group who is denying climate change. It found that "a number of these same companies are sponsoring toxic, far-right denial of climate science. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) pushes an extremist denier agenda throughout the United States, funded in secret by corporations."

ThinkProgress explains that, "ALEC denies that global warming is causing glaciers to retreat or sea level to rise. Not only does ALEC deny the threat of climate change, they even argue that ‘substantial global warming is likely to be of benefit to the United States.'"

It is frustrating that these groups exist and disappointing that corporations secretly support them.

What corporations are essentially saying is that we know global warming exists, it would be embarrassing to suggest otherwise, but if we can convince others that it is a controversial subject, one not yet decided, and we can save some money, then it is on them. After all, they might conclude, it's your planet, and if your religion or desire for cheap products or political viewpoint, outweighs your value of the Earth's sustainability, then who are we to stand in the way. Our shareholders appreciate your support.

Finally, the ALES notes, "There is no ‘scientific consensus' that global warming will cause damaging climate change."

ALES statement about scientific consensus is actually accurate; there is no consensus. Unfortunately, rarely is a scientific consensus reached, for there are still people who do not believe in evolution and there are even a few members in the Flat Earth Society. The Flat Earth Society makes the bold claim that not only do they not believe that the Earth is round, but that "scientific data and measurements back up our claims." Sigh.

Of course, that perspective reaches politics when Republicans serve the interest of corporations. Jonathan Chait noted in 2007 that Republican members who understood climate change were shunned when they sought a seat on the committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

"Reps. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) and Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), both research scientists, also were denied seats on the committee. Normally, relevant expertise would be considered an advantage. In this case, it was a disqualification; if the GOP allowed Republican researchers who accept the scientific consensus to sit on a global warming panel, it would kill the party's strategy of making global warming seem to be the pet obsession of Democrats and Hollywood lefties."

At some point, we have to set financial interest and politics aside to move beyond a "deny and destroy" society. We hear a lot about the debt we do not want to leave our children, but we seem to have no issue with wasting resources and destroying eco-systems.

Climate change is not a policy statement to be secretly undermined to preserve financial interest. Nor is it a political issue that can be bullied about. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson made an interesting point recently when he said that Congress is too convoluted with lawyers-and not enough scientists and other professions. Lawyers, he notes, are paid to argue either side of an issue, like members of a debate team. They get paid to argue a particular side of an issue, whether it is right, wrong or absurd. Not surprisingly, lawyers have a strong bias in favor of those signing their paycheck (or making campaign donations).

We clearly need to reintroduce science into our society-our schools and our culture. It is not a dirty word, it is not religious propaganda of the left to be "believed or not believed." Science is real, we experience the luxury of it every day, and it is not a belief system to be bantered about-politically or secretly.

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