- October 29, 2015
- in Green Tips
- by marcos
“I’m not a scientist.” No doubt you’ve heard that from one or another politician as — of all things — a rationale for dismissing science. Of course, what this means is that if some particular scientific finding runs counter to their policies, the most expedient way to close down questioning on the topic is to pretend they’re just too modest to discuss a subject in which they lack academic expertise. As if even to attempt to understand it might be a gesture of disrespect for its practitioners.
It seems to me I hear this sort of thing most often from someone who wants to think climate science or evolutionary biology are in dispute (of course, you also have the conspiracy theorists, the anti-vaccine sorts, the Bigfoot chasers — in descending order of political clout). Now, I took a little biology in high school, and I’ve read a couple of books on it, and although I’m not an expert, I feel like I have a layman’s grasp of natural selection, and to some extent genetics. But I never took a course in climate science, and to own the truth, I’ve never read an actual textbook on the subject. It seems logical to me that certain gasses would trap heat more than others, and that if we released a lot of them it might affect the climate, but then again, many a naive blunder started out looking very logical.
So I happened to be in New York a few days ago and found myself at the offices of the Environmental Defense Fund (an organization I regard very highly, and recommend you visit at https://www.edf.org), where I met an actual climate scientist. PhD and everything. And while it might not have been the equivalent of taking a course, it was helpful to hear a few details fleshed out and ask a few questions. I didn’t take notes (which I now regret), but here, for what they’re worth, are a few things I took away from the conversation:
Another thing I was somewhat surprised to hear was that the Paris accords, whatever comes of them (and the vibe was hopeful), will be voluntary among the signatories. Nothing binding. Apparently if it were binding, our Congress would simply overturn it. Don’t ask me what’s wrong with them. I’m not a scientist.
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