Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Some (little) Good News

Tibor R. Machan

It started out way back when I was an undergraduate at Claremont Men’s (now McKenna) College and started to write columns for the student paper. Once I was paying for some books in the college bookstore with a check and the cashier, himself a student there, looked up at me and said, “Are you really Tibor Machan? I thought he was a gnome with a long gray beard fussing and fretting about everything.” I laughed since my actual, in-person demeanor is rather lighthearted and mostly cheerful. But I understood because my columns tend to talk about what is wrong, and mostly what’s wrong is that individual liberty is being trampled all over the place, which upsets me a lot. Ergo, “gnome with a long gray beard fussing and fretting about”!

OK, here, however, is a counterexample. Over the couple of decades I have been reading the magazine Science News I found the editors and reporters treating global warming, so called, as if it were established beyond a shadow of doubt that human beings made it happen. I wrote to them about this in the summer of 2004 and in their September 11 issue they did publish my letter of one sentence: “It is very disappointing that ‘Dead Heat: The health consequences of global warming could be many’ (SN: 7/3/04, p. 10) has not a word about any disagreement surrounding the health and related consequences of global warming, let alone of any disputes about its very likelihood.” The reports continued, however, to treat the phenomenon as something unnatural and largely produced by people.

But a year later, another letter appeared, in the November 5, 2005, issue, on page 303. It is worth reproducing it here:

I have spent the past 30 years as a geoscientist studying the history of Earth and take great exception to a statement in the article: “Scientists are divided on whether climate change, induced by industrial and automotive release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, is driving those statistics.” This sentence states that there would be no climate warming without mankind’s use of fossil fuels. While that belief may be politically correct, it is certainly not scientifically correct. About 15,000 years ago, much of North America was covered by glaciers, and those glaciers have been retreating since that time with no help from Homo sapiens. While the emission of greenhouse gases by man might be changing the rate of warming, mankind’s activity certainly has not caused the warming. (JDU, Terrell, TX)

Although the content of discussions of global warming in Science News has not change much and most of them keep suggesting that it’s all due to the greed and materialism of human beings, at least now and then a letter is allowed to voice some dissent.

I am not sure if I should break open that bottle of campaign I’ve had cooling in my fridge for over three months—this development at Science News may not be sufficient to warrant celebration. Moreover, the general media’s and our educational institutions’ nonstop propaganda of the “global warming is due to human malpractice on earth” variety pretty much wipes out Science News’ slight reform.

Nonetheless it is on these occasions that I so vividly recall that wonderful Seventh Day Adventist bumper sticker I got a glimpse of back when I lived and drove around in the Bible Belt: “Notice the good and praise it.” Indeed, if one follows this bit of wisdom, whatever its source, one will find one’s view of life and the world improving a bit.

I certainly could use this tiny improvement, especially after the way California voters chose to dismiss all warning about their state’s disastrous financial straits and defeated everything on the ballot that might have gone just a little way to remedy matters. Certainly my on and off optimistic assessment of the wisdom of the masses took a beating from this. So what Science News did by publishing this sensible letter was very welcome. Maybe if there are more and more such tiny improvements, the big disaster of letting the government become totalitarian can be fended off.

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