My last post dealt with the idea of “consensus” and the fact that many times consensus is mistaken for absolute truth. That does not mean that a general consensus is always wrong – it just means that a consensus is not always right.
There is a general consensus that gravity keeps us from floating off into space. That’s true. Prior to Galileo the consensus that the earth was the center of the universe was not true. My point is that science itself is in a constant state of flux and it behooves us to use discretion in trusting consensus, whether in science, politics, or social issues.
I received an email from a college buddy who brought up some good points on my previous post regarding global warming. Based on his email, I need to clarify my position, because there may be some confusion.
In my mind, these are really two topics. Climate change on a global level is one. Pollution and the destruction of our environment is another subject. Personally, I don’t believe in man-made global warming. I believe that more powerful forces than man have caused changes alternating between cooling and warming since the beginning of time on our planet. The sun, for example, is a major factor, with its solar flares, sunspots, and powerful magnetic fields. Greater forces impact our globe than my outdoor barbeque.
On the other hand, I do believe we are desecrating our land and polluting our air and water, which I find inexcusable. This is an issue that angers me greatly. I’m 100% environmentalist on this subject. But this is not the same as nature’s impact on our planet.
I remember distinctly the 1951 documentary about the Norwegian explorer who built a raft called the “Kon-Tiki” in 1947 and sailed for over 100 days across the
Pacific Ocean. He
said that not a single day went by that he didn’t encounter trash floating in
the water. I was a kid in ‘51, but it
left an impression on me that still bothers me today.
More recently scientists have discovered a floating island of trash in the Pacific Ocean somewhere in size between
Texas and the entire
continental United States.
That’s huge. This is evidently where several ocean currents converge, trapping
plastic and other junk that doesn’t biodegrade. The smaller particles obviously affect sea
life and work their way through the food chain. That’s mind-boggling to me and it spotlights
In an old comic strip by Walt Kelly, “Pogo” said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
I remember waiting on a pier in
for a fishing guide, who was late in picking us up for a fishing trip. I was traveling with my good friend Glen
Dennee to look at some Costa Rican property, but we took time out for
fishing. I lack patience and tend to be
impulsive. I dove in the water for a
swim while we waited. I swam under a
pier and happened to look up and see a series of round holes in the pier above
me. These turned out to be primitive toilets. After a short swim, I dried off, caught the
boat, but sadly caught no fish.
Later Glen and I met with some Americans living in Costa Rica and we were told that we should avoid the water in a that particular bay, because it was one of the most polluted in the world, with sewage, medical waste, and anything else you can imagine. The warning included the statement that contact with the water normally results in death within six months. Glen and I looked at each other without saying a word. I obviously survived, but there’s no excuse for that kind of environmental stupidity. The
has some of the toughest environmental regulations in the world, but look at third
world countries and industries in places like China,
Personally, I believe that the things we are doing to the environment are killing us with cancer and other diseases. But when we talk about “global climate change,” I see that as a different issue. We can do things to clean up our environment, but we can’t compete with volcanoes, solar activity, and other natural forces to control the climate on our planet.
Between Gayle, Dakota, and me, we have formed a consensus on this material. Our cat has withheld her opinion, but we had a quorum.