Monday, December 18, 2006

Trial for Global Warming

So is this global warming stuff real and, if so, will people in Edinburgh be affected by it?

I had a semi-heated debate with a friend of mine recently over that very topic. His position was that global warming has not been proven; at least there is insufficient evidence to start changing national policy over it.

My argument was that the vast majority of scientists around the world agree that global warming is already here and that it will only get worse if we do nothing. I also tried to point out that even in the unlikely event that the temperature rise over the past 100 years is a natural phenomenon, taking steps to alleviate environmental pollutants would do nothing but help us in the long run anyway.

Now, the Bush administration wants nothing to do with global efforts to clean up the atmosphere. The president, whose policy gurus have pressured his science advisors to doctor the evidence on several science issues, claims that keeping in step with the rest of the world will lead to economic chaos.

Thankfully, Bush will be gone in a couple more years. Congress has already turned more liberal as voters turned away from many of his archaic policies. So there may be some hope for the future.

But for now, the U.S. is lagging far behind most of the world in environmental policies. Even China has a higher air quality standard than we do.

My contention is that there is enough evidence in favor of global warming right now that if the issue were brought before a court of law, a jury would decide in favor of the scientists and against the nay-sayers and Bush cronies, even if it were a criminal trial. A criminal trial has a higher standard of conviction than a civil trial – reasonable doubt versus a preponderance of the evidence.

In fact, we should have a mock trial just to prove the point. A real judge should be hired and a real jury convened. Real experts on both sides of the issues should be allowed to present real evidence in a courtroom environment.

Of course, the verdict would carry no weight. It would only be for show. But at least it would show where the American people stand after hearing all the evidence.

As for Edinburgh, no it wouldn’t be engulfed by the ocean like Miami or New York City would be in case the Greenland ice sheets melted, but global warming would most likely lead to considerable climate changes over most temperate regions. The climate of the Midwest would most likely become hotter and drier.

Al Gore presented compelling evidence in his recent documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Unfortunately, being a former politician, he is often not taken seriously. Most conservatives probably didn’t even see the film.

What the country needs right now is another Carl Sagan or Isaac Asimov. They were scientists who had a way with the public. They could relate to the lay person and vice versa. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series and companion book were big hits with the public. And Asimov, though not as flamboyant, was widely read and respected.

But, alas, we have no living replacement for those two popular scientists. So we have to settle for Al Gore to spread the news about environmental issues. And Gore probably won’t impress the Bush conservatives.

Maybe they’ll start to listen when Florida disappears under the Atlantic Ocean.

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