Beyond the Rhetoric and the Science
(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on April 18th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)
Lets face it, politicians from both major parties have made it difficult for us to trust them. Scientists, while many are noble, many also compete for grants and notoriety, and are not beyond arrogance, greed or corruption. Further, it has been said that statistics can be used to prove any argument.
This is the backdrop for many debates in our society, including global warming. I have no doubt that there are a great many people on both sides of the debate that are more intelligent than I, that passionately, honestly, believe in their point of view. I also have no doubt that there are a great many people on both sides of the debate that put forth their point of view because it is profitable for them to do so, and in the case of politicians it will help them get, or stay in power.
What is an independent minded person to do? For one, not be taken in by either side, accept that there is neither a monopoly on ethical or unethical behavior on either side, and that one of the great lessons of Nazi Germany is not to walk in lock step with your leaders.
You believe the Earth is warming, really? Okay explain to me precisely how exactly it is warming.
You say hogwash the Earth is not warming, really? Okay explain to me precisely how the increase in temperatures over the last ten years is not related to carbon emissions and global warming.
I’m sure there are a small percentage of people reading this that can argue either side. There are also prosecuting attorneys who can convince us that innocent people are murderers as there are defense lawyers who can convince us murders are innocent. We the people rely on scientists and leaders with expertise to form our opinions as most of us are without a deep understanding of the science and minutia that explains what does and doesn’t affect the environment.
How we, “the jury” , arrive at our conclusions depends on who we trust, what seems reasonable based on an elementary understanding, and personal bias. Hardly foolproof.
Further, when stakes and passions are high, ends justify the means thinking enters the fray, and as a result data can get manipulated. As can opinions and feelings. Emotionally charged, now those with whom we disagree are not just wrong, they are crazy, evil, corrupt, partisan and so on.
What does that get us? Intellectual masturbation, preaching to respective choirs and basically dooming us to a “taste great!” “Less filling!” argument till the end of time.
This process leads to us tackling some of our most pressing problems at a snails pace, preferring to kick political hot potatoes down the road and allowing a germ to evolve into an epidemic. A sample list includes: oil, social security, immigration, and the environment. Increasing the schism, these days compromise has become a four-letter word. So, global warming, yes or no? If it is yes, then the longer we debate and not do what we can to reverse it, the more potential damage we do to our planet and ourselves. That is the understandable angst that many on the left, or anyone who believes this is so, feels.
As a self-described independent it doesn’t help the global warming argument when no matter what the weather seems to be, hot, cold, snowing, sunny, hurricane, thundering rain, or drought, there is an environmentalist saying that is expected with global warming.
Elevating, manipulating data and or information that supports, and suppressing, manipulating data and or information that doesn’t occurs on both sides and only causes people to want to tune out. We all lose when that happens.
The case has not been made beyond a reasonable doubt, the issue has not been decided and in a country founded on free speech, I’m sorry Al Gore and Bill Maher, I support your cause, but you cannot and will not silence the other side. We can’t be afraid of debate.
I believe the way to “win” is to continue to research, but to focus the argument on humanity. Here we can begin to find facts that we can all agree on: The Universe is a pretty big place. To date we have one place that can sustain our life and that is the Earth.
If I were to ask you to describe your home, the answer for most would be some variation that included a combination of rooms, furniture, bathroom, kitchen and so on. We can be very territorial about our homes, we like it kept the way we like it kept. Me? I’m kind of messy but still have a method to my madness. Not too many of us would take too kindly if a stranger came into our home and started indiscriminately reorganizing things and then urinated in our living room. Understandable. That would be rude to treat our living room like a toilet.
However the truth is, our four walls, and pipes aren’t our home, the Earth is our home. And unlike our precious apartments, houses and condominiums, she is alive. She provides us with land, food and water and an environment in which we survive and thrive. Is it too much to ask to not treat her like a toilet? Too place the burden on something not harming her? More than any life on this planet, she is irreplaceable. Yes?
We’ve all seen this scene play out in a movie: Parents go away entrusting their home to their teenage son or daughter who promises to take care of the house and be responsible. Not five minutes after the parents are out the door, the keg is tapped, the girls have gone wild, and a home that could have appeared in Home and Garden Magazine is now trashed. When the parents inevitably return home before the kids expected they are shocked.
We are currently the dominant species on this planet but we do not own the Earth. She is a precious gift that we have been left in charge of. Whether that gift is from a deity or by chance doesn’t make it less of a gift. We should treat her responsibly and with reverence.
Imagine how much better you’d treat your favorite outfit of clothes if you knew you could never buy anything new again. If your first car were to be the only car you could ever own or drive, maybe you’d do better with maintenance checks. Earth is our one home, our one planet, and she is here providing life not only to us but many other life forms that we are also dependent on, and I would ask you, is it too much to ask that we take that into account?
I believe our attitudes and policy should reflect these truths. To care for our planet humanely and with consideration regardless of where the science is feels right.
Having said all of that, practical considerations can’t be ignored. When policy changes are suggested and brought before congress they have to be meaningful ones to have a chance of gaining needed government and public support.
For example, hypothetically don’t say to me we have to institute policy X which will cost billions, cause tens of thousands to be unemployed and as a result instead of the Earth burning up in a 1000 years it will burn up in 999. That is not the answer. Sacrifice has to have meaning. Not sit around the campfire feel good meaning. Actual meaning.
In the meantime, most of us can make simple practical everyday habits a part of our consciousness and a part of educating our youth. As we wait for governments to do the big things, we earthlings can start doing the small things. I know I can do better. Here is a link with tips for those who are interested. http://www.globalstewards.org/ecotips.htm
And if you, yeah you, the one reading this article, if you can’t do everything, please don’t let that stop you from doing anything. Every little bit helps. Thinking about it, talking about it, taking steps and passing on information in a non-judgmental way, you would be surprised how you can make a difference! Happy Earth Day!
Published by Jeff Schubert
Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…