10.19.2009

Global Warming Debate Heats Up


Oh my. Over the weekend, a torrent of vitriol in the blogosphere over the global warming chapter of Stephen Dubner and Stephen Levitt's upcoming book, Superfreakonomics. In their initial rebut, the authors describe, among other pieces of information, an email exchange from ClimateProgress.org's Joseph Romm to the main climate scientist quoted in the book, in which Romm tries to bait the scientist into saying Superfreaknomics got it all wrong so that Romm could include that in a scathing rebuke of the book.

Closer to home, I can't begin to tell you how many times I've gotten push-back when I seek to actually critique, analyze, and prove the merits of such things as green jobs, LEED certification, or fresh food access programs. How dare I not take these things at face value as automatically good! What am I, one of those dim-witted doubters? And I was thought to be one of those who actually "got it."

There's just as much of me that is rooting for these things to be true, as there is that revels in being contrarian and that is leery when too many are saying too much too soon without proper proof. But, on my best days, I am neither predilected to be a believer or a doubter: I simply want to know truth, and then do what I can to spread it. I certainly don't want to glory in ignorance, nor do I want to jump on a bandwagon if it's not heading in the right direction.

Unfortunately, what good debate is emerging from global warming discussions is being lost in a lot of hot air, name-calling, and posturing. In the meantime, very real decisions with very real consequences await us. Delay is costly, as is improper action.

Perhaps our children's children will forgive us for getting the science, the economics, or the policies wrong, complex as this subject is. But will they excuse us if the reason we didn't make more progress was because we weren't more civil towards one another, willing to hear and learn from others' perspectives, more interested in making progress than in winning a point?
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