Another Inconvenient Truth: Are We Too Divided to Close the Ideological Gap?
Some days my hope wavers that this polarized American society can get anywhere meaningful. The communication gap is so wide and prickly. That goes for environmental issues, political ones, cultural ones and any other kinds of ones. Sometimes it just seems hopeless to me. Or at least very fatiguing.
Consider my most recent sustainablog post — NASA Maps Global CO2 Patterns; Produces More Science for Nonbelievers to Dispute.
I showed some exasperation in that post, too. I wondered how science, a system based on factual discovery as means of proving (or disproving) a hypothesis, is so controversial as it relates to environmental matters. I wondered — and continue to wonder — how two people can look at facts of science and pick and choose what to believe and then vehemently disagree with each other.
An Inconvenient Truth
That is to say, for example, one person may consider the science presented by former Vice President Al Gore, a Nobel Prize winner (and Academy Award winner) for his efforts related to educating the world about global warming, and says, “We must alter our behaviors to keep climate change from reaching its full, destructive potential. We have a role in what is happening on the planet, and should make sure our actions are positive, or at least not unnecessarily negative.”
Another watches the same presentation, An Inconvenient Truth, and says, “What a crock. I don’t believe it. So I’m not going to recycle, or support a shift in energy policy or even accept any need for change as a possibility. I wish everyone would stop talking about it.”
It continues to perplex me that we’re so divided on such crucial issues, especially ones supported by facts, data, numbers, intelligent results.
In that NASA post, I started by putting forward a map that was recently published by one of the leading American governmental agencies for discovery and exploration. While I have some general reservations about trusting government or about taking information wholesale from sources of any kind, I do feel it’s reasonable, if not downright necessary, to release control of some things in this world.
For instance, I am not a doctor, a pilot, or a carpenter. I think it’s in my best interest to leave those areas of expertise to the professionals who’ve spent their lives working on those skills and knowledge sets.
So I trust that when science proves global warming is exacerbated by human activities, and that said scientific evidence even is accepted, finally, by the evangelical administration of President George W. Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency and NASA. And when that science receives global appreciation and acclaim for Al Gore, rather than overwhelming dissent followed by corrective theories, it is probably in my interest to act upon that information.
Now, that’s not the same as saying that I do so in utter blindness. But if I were to completely ignore the information, wouldn’t that be equally blind and equally ignorant? And that seems too often to be the case, as it pertains to the poles of divide.
Naysayers who comment against things written here at sustainablog seem to often do it with curiously strong confidence that global warming is a hoax and to believe otherwise must be a certain dagger through the heart of, say, my credibility as a blogger. They seem to figure that my believing is foolish, and I can’t understand why they choose to be so presumptious and equally foolish in ignoring issues.
Here is how I see this idea of global warming, and I think it’s a pretty logical basic approach: What if?
Now, I have posed that question before and a commenter had a decent enough response, essentially saying: It is not worth it to change whole global systems upon the mere what-if of the world heading toward destruction.
But when I pose the “What If” question, it really is a matter of attempting to get people, in a non-threatening way, to just think for themselves and draw on some logic. It’s not a baseless what-if meant to create a loophole for the lazy naysayer prone to loathe change and self-improvement. It’s an “At the least consider that the anticipated outcome is far too dire to allow apathy to have any role in our future” kind of what-if.
When Is Enough Enough?
So again I ask the naysayers who frequent this blog, and vent their frustration that people like me are so, what they seemingly consider to be, incorrigibly gullible and ignorant as to buy into a preserve-the-planet mentality:
- At what point do we have enough science to actually respect it — and act?
- At what point do we think the voluminous depth of facts we’ve accumulated are enough to use for measures of averting the what-if doomsday scenario?
- At what point should we all care that if the world, particularly because of human activities, is in fact heading toward a very bad situation, we might want to have some foresight and proactively work to ease that unthinkable burden?
Nuance of Language
Now, with respect to one naysayer in particular who commented on my recent NASA post, spouting the usual refusal to buy into such foresight and planning because he’s annoyed by people like me using less-than-concrete words such as “might, maybe, could” to describe this end game…
I write here at sustainablog as a means of facilitating discussion about some very significant ideas and issues that we, as a whole society, inclusive of both ends of the ever-growing ideological divide, need to resolve.
The fact is that I am not a scientist, so I do not propagate the findings on global warming as if they were my own. I discuss them because they are ideas worth discussing. I step aside to allow the experts who have given their lives to the discovery of facts to do their work.
I appreciate scientists, pilots, carpenters, teachers, truck drivers, nurses, zookeepers, garbage men, chefs…and on and on… because that’s what specialization necessarily requires.
I only wish the rigid naysayers who are so faithful to status quo comfort and thinking would likewise step back and be so humble as to allow scientists to contribute what we cannot — and then dutifully get off their butts, step to the plate and participate for the good of everyone rather than wait and see if, on an off-chance, their cynicism prevails.
But I’ve come to the conclusion that won’t happen. We’re divided and I have lost faith that sense and compassion can accomplish much of anything, at least any time in the foreseeable future. Simply, people love to hate. It’s the way of the Internet, of politics, of business, of entertainment.
The American public doesn’t even see the same America, the same planet, the same problems. We so often don’t even talk to each other in reasonably intelligent, restrained ways right now. (Watch John McCain and Sarah Palin and their hate-rally-goers in action, if you don’t believe me.)
So how can we fix what’s wrong with all of it?
Like Senator Joe Biden said of Sarah Palin’s refusal to acknowledge man’s activities have anything to do with her melting state of Alaska: How can we fix a problem we can’t even agree exists?