Monday, August 23, 2010

Who Speaks and Why?

Who Speaks and Why?

I am stymied by the global climate change discussion. The need for dramatic, negative social change could be real, or it could be orchestrated. For me to accept the need for change, I must trust scientific and political decision-makers for conclusions that I lack the time and ability to research for myself. To reject the need for change, I must reject solid historical evidence that technology has had harmful, devestating effects on our earth.

I just read an article posted by the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Wildlife Federation, Larry J. Schweiger. His thoughts coalesce my frustration.

"Scientific findings can be just as contentious today as in the 17th century."

Schweiger cites several scientists who suffered for their discoveries and conclusions:

Galileo endured a life-sentence "house arrest" in 1632 for the heretical idea that the Sun, not the Earth, was at the center of our universe.

Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring in 1962, warning of the harm that DDT was bringing to bird life. Manufacturers of DDT attacked her relentlessly for the rest of her life.

Dr. Herbert L. Needleman discovered the harmful effects caused by the lead in vehicle emissions and paint. His research was attacked by oil and chemical industries that sold gasoline and lead-based paint.

Dr. Needleman reflected back on his experience, saying "If you find evidence that a compound worth billions of dollars to its manufacturer poses a public health risk, you will almost certainly find yourself in the middle of a contentious battle that has little to do with scientific truth."

Schweiger sees the same profit-driven fight to obscure research happening today in the climate change arena.

Hackers gained access to private email accounts and managed to cut and paste forged messages that appeared to show that two leading scientists were falsifying evidence and manipulating data concerning climate change. Investigation by the British House of Commons has found no credible evidence for the charges.

This affair caused Schweiger to quote Rachel Carson as she responded to her critics: "I recommend, that you ask yourself: Who speaks? And why?"

Every editorial, every news article, every forwarded email chain message should be evaluated with this question: "Who speaks? And why?"

There seems to be tremendous financial incentive to be the winner in the climate change debate. But money should be at most secondary to the larger priority: clean water and air, and healthy land. I would much rather err on the side of being too green than too sick.

So, for me, the burden of providing evidence is upon those who say that technology is NOT causing global climate change. The consequences of future, irreparable harm to the earth are too dire.

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