Last week, Nature published another strong statement addressing the political/economic attack on climate science in an editorial titled “Into Ignorance“. It specifically criticized the right wing element of the U.S. Congress that is attempting to initiate legislation that would strip the US EPA of its powers to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants. In so doing, it cited as an example the charade of a hearing conducted recently, including the Republicans’ disrespectful and ignorant attitude toward the science and scientists. Among many low points, this may have reached its nadir when a House member from Nebraska asked, smirkingly and out of the blue, whether nitrogen should be banned–presumably to make the point that atmospheric gases are all either harmless or outright beneficial, and hence, should not be regulated. Aside from the obvious difference that humans are not altering the nitrogen concentration of the atmosphere, as they are with (several) greenhouse gases, such a question boggles the mind in terms of the mindset that must exist to ask it in a public congressional hearing in the first place. But rarely are the ignorant and ideological bashful about showing it, regardless of who might be listening. In fact an increasing number seem to take it as a badge of honor.
There have been even more strongly worded editorials in the scientific literature recently as well. Trevors and Saier (2011)*, in a journal with a strong tradition of stating exactly where it stands with respect to public policy decisions and their effect on the environment, pull no punches in a recent editorial, describing the numerous societal problems caused when those with the limited perspective and biases born of a narrow economic outlook on the world, get control. These include the losses of critical thinking skills, social/community ethics, and the subsequent wise decision making and planning skills that lead a society to long-term health and stability.
Meanwhile, scientific bodies charged with understanding how the world actually works–instead of how they would imagine and proclaim it to–continue to issue official statements endorsing the consensus view that humans are strongly warming the planet in recent decades, primarily by greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Three years ago, we wondered whether geologists in general have a different view on climate change to the climate research community. A recent statement from the U.K. Geological Society, however, suggests that our impressions perhaps were not well-founded.
Notwithstanding these choices of ignorance, many other organizations continue apace with many worthwhile and diverse goals of how to deal with the problem. Here are a few links that we have run across in the last week or two that may be of interest to those interested in sustainability and adaptation. Please note the imminent deadlines on some of these.
The Center for Sustainable Development’s online courses related to community-level adaptation to climate change:
The CDKN International Research Call on Climate Compatible Development:
The Climate Frontlines call for abstracts for a July conference in Mexico City on the theme “Indigenous Peoples, Marginalized Populations and Climate Change” [Apologies: the official deadline for abstracts has apparently passed; view this is a conference announcement]
George Mason University’s call for votes on the Climate Change Communicator of the Year
*Trevors, J.T & Saier Jr., M.H. 2011. A vaccine against ignorance? Water, Air and Soil Pollution, DOI 10.1007/s11270-011-0773-1.