Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Cost of Profound Ignorance

At the risk of sounding arrogant, I have to admit that the profoundly ignorant deeply distress me, especially those who revel in that ignorance, wear it as a faux badge of independent critical thinking, and refuse to entertain the possibility of error.

Take, for example, climate-change deniers. Despite the overwhelming evidence that it is taking place, indeed, accelerating at unanticipated rates (see, as an illustration, Kev's graphic at Trapped in a Whirlpool) and has almost universal agreement amongst scientists that it is mainly human-caused, they blithely dismiss such data as mere 'opinion.'

I had reason to reflect upon this sad fact the other day when I ran into a neighbourhood woman walking her dog. As is the norm when talking to people we don't know well, we discussed the weather, specifically the incessant heat, humidity, and drought that has plagued my part of the country this summer.

While I realize that the volatility and harshness of any one season cannot be attributed to climate change, I opined that perhaps we are paying for our environmental 'sins.' Immediately she snorted and pointed out that there had been a dustbowl in the thirties. I responded by saying that the problem now, unlike the thirties, is that a pattern has clearly emerged in which the frequency and extent of meteorological volatility stands in marked contrast with previous periods.

She informed me that she doesn't 'believe' in climate change, and that the aberrations we are now experiencing are simply part of 'natural cycles.' Her logic eluded me, and I had to wonder when belief in scientific data became optional and simply a matter of opinion.

It does not bode well for our survival as a species, does it?

Well, time to go out for a bike ride. This morning is one of the few days this summer without a humidex.

UPDATE: The Guardian reports the following:

In a survey of more than 1,000 readers of websites related to climate change, people who agreed with free market economic principles and endorsed conspiracy theories were more likely to dispute that human-caused climate change was a reality.

As well, you might find this of interest: The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic

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