Former vice president Al Gore isn't known for his great political timing, so perhaps it's no surprise that he's published an environmental broadside in Rolling Stone during a week in which there's almost no political oxygen left. The Beltway is clogged with dreary economic news, debt ceiling worries and President Obama's Afghanistan speech. Even given Gore's prodigious talent for generating heat, he's fighting a losing battle.
That's a shame. Because it's worth a read.
[T]he scientific consensus [on climate change] is even stronger. It has been endorsed by every National Academy of science of every major country on the planet, every major professional scientific society related to the study of global warming and 98 percent of climate scientists throughout the world. In the latest and most authoritative study by 3,000 of the very best scientific experts in the world, the evidence was judged "unequivocal."
Gore goes on to lament that widespread denial of these facts makes meaningful political action on climate change nigh on impossible.
What is it that makes some of us so reticent to take climate scientists seriously? Gore spends a lot of time blasting corporate-funded climate denial. But what makes some Americans willing to listen to it? Climate scientists aren't completely drowned out of the public square, but their message seems to fall on deaf ears.
From the steam engine to the space shuttle, from stock tickers to smart phones, from silos to skyscrapers, we Americans owe much of our prosperity to the fruits of scientific research. It's not just great for technological inventions — we owe public health improvements to good science. Scientists discovered that leaded gasoline causes myriad public health challenges. They also developed alternative fuel additives so that we could address the problem. There are countless stories like this.
Without science, you wouldn't be reading this right now. There'd be no LCD screen or fiber-optic cables or communications satellites or computer software, or…you get the idea. We love science — as long as it makes our lives more comfortable.
So, somebody tell me: How is it that we trust scientists on nearly everything, except when they're studying the global climate? Is it that the truth is just too inconvenient to bear?