Thursday, July 21, 2011

Global climate change exposes an interesting observation: the great battle between ideologues and politicians against the scientific community about the reality of climate change exposes the confusion between belief and factual understanding. For instance, if a quarter (a 25 cent coin) lies on a table and people observe it there should be a100% agreement that it is a quarter. It is hard factual evidence. Anyone who says it’s not really a quarter would be looked upon with great suspect. The quarter represents a case in fact-based understanding. The person who says it’s not really a quarter bases their position on their belief. We’ll get back to the quarter.
Belief is a very curious phenomenon. For instance, our local Native American tribe, the Lenape, believed that many animals including turtles had sacred powers. They believed that if a turtle wondered into a village containing a sick person, that person would be healed and become very lucky. The Okehocking tribe that maintained a summer hunting camp just east of West Chester on Route 3 was a turtle worshiping tribe.
Beliefs run across religious, philosophical, and ideological divides or can be a combination of these. In the religious community there are ten known non-Christian religions and fifteen recognized Protestant Denominations in the United States who, for the most part, claim that their way is the only way to God. Which one is right and how can they be sure?
The British philosopher Stephen Law described some belief systems (including belief in homeopathy, psychic powers and alien abduction) as "claptrap" and said that they "draw people in and hold them captive so they become willing slaves ... if you get sucked in, it can be extremely difficult to think your way clear again". That describes the extreme “shock jock” news programs of today.
Belief that the economy is the only thing that counts is another example. As much as capitalist like to demonize socialists (I’m not supporting socialism), the fact is Capitalism is a failed system too. Look where we are right now! Capitalists only care about the next quarter earnings. The Marcellus Shale issue is a perfect example.  They are willing to destroy people’s water quality and communities to keep their earnings optimal. One curious thing about the socialist accusation from capitalists is, why won’t they admit that when taxpayers pay over $91 Billion to subsidize big oil companies, at the same time the oil companies are gouging us at the pumps racking up historic profits - that that is socialism? The “people” are supporting the oil industry with our tax dollars. This is not free enterprise market-based business, yet they support the tax subsidies?
Back to the quarter, the scientific facts about climate change are as real as that twenty-five cent peace. The facts come from NASA, The Snow and Ice Data Center, NOWA, and some other scientific organizations. The facts are rock-solid. Skeptics disputing the facts are like someone saying that the quarter isn’t really a quarter.
In my fourteen years involvement with the scientific community researching climate change I have never seen one “peer reviewed” scientific study that disputes the facts about climate change. In addition, there are over 2,500 climatologists that say climate change is a very serious problem that has passed the threshold of stopping some very unpleasant future repercussions. If you pay attention to the droughts and wildfires in the southwest, the floods and tornados in the Midwest, and extreme weather events around the world, you will realize climate change is here now.  The skeptics deliberately promoted unsubstantiated beliefs as fact to keep their quarterly earnings up.  The cost for not fact-checking information will cost us all.