The Republican controlled Senate voted 50-49 that climate change is not caused by humans. These people are the modern day version of those that persecuted Galileo for saying that the earth went around the sun. Unfortunately for us, these climate deniers’ folly is going to doom a lot of people around the globe. Their ignorance will destroy lives. It is easy to look back at history in disbelief at people believing that the sun revolved around the earth. But that same kind of mindset is with us now. It is created by the same thing: Power that does not want to be challenged. The church didn’t want their authoritarian power being challenged. Today it is the fossil fuel companies who don’t want their power to make money to be challenged. The politicians that voted that climate change was not caused by humans derive their power from the fossil fuel companies. They are bought and paid for. Every major scientific institution has made the case for human caused climate change. The facts are not up in the air, they are just inconvenient to some of those that have a great deal of power. One day they will look as foolish as the church of Galileo’s time does now. Hopefully there will be a civilization around that can afford to laugh at them.
Watch this video where a public official in Florida twists and turns, to the amusement of those talking to him, to try and not say the words “climate change”. It has to be seen to be believed. Ridiculous, idiotic, hilarious, and scary….
I meant to post this the other day, but I forgot, or I couldn’t make myself because of the astounding stupidity involved. Florida officials, once Rick Scott came into power, were told to not include the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in any official reports. If this wasn’t so insane and depressing, this would actually be hilarious. Florida is a state that is going to be in an especially dire situation due to climate change related problems. Here is just one article about one part of Florida that is going to face catastrophe due to climate change:
Do we really need leaders who not only don’t act in their constituents best interests, but don’t even allow debate about things that may affect those same constituents?
Here is an interesting article on GMO crops. Apparently Bill Nye, who has been debunking pseudoscience when it comes to things like climate change, is claiming that we have an irrational fear of GMO crops. He is not supporting companies like Monsanto and their business practices, only saying that GMO crops, if done right, aren’t necessarily anymore dangerous than many other crops. I am still trying to learn about this topic, but I have read other articles that seem to back Nye. I think at the very least we should all try to read more before we take a strong stand one way or the other. The article does a good job of explaining the science behind Nye’s thinking. A sample quote from Nye:
I’m not saying GMOs are a silver bullet to end world hunger or that I love Monsanto. And I’m not saying that there aren’t cases where individual GMOs might result in environmental issues, such as pest resistance. Debating GMOs’ benefits and risks is healthy. But making GMOs the bogeyman while giving other crops a pass isn’t.
Been reading Dante’s The Inferno today. It is part of his epic poem The Divine Comedy. As well as it being far more readable and entertaining than I remembered, it is also truly hilarious for the insanity contained. I’m only about five Cantos in. From the beginning, not only is the imagery batshit insane, but some of the ideas that are rooted in religion are as well. Early on Dante visits the Virtuous Pagans. These are people that were at the pinnacle of humanity, but could not progress higher in the afterlife due to the fact that they were without the light of God. (They were born before the time of Christianity, so it was through no fault of their own.) So it is clear that the religion of Dante’s time (and we know some of the religion of our own), valued a belief in God above any kind of great achievements, even if these achievements were the kind that brought light and understanding to humanity, even if the circumstance of their birth was the sole reason for this lack of belief.
Also there are a group within this group known as the naturalists. These would be people that were the equivalent of scientists in our society. Clearly these people were valued by believers during Dante’s time for the understanding of the natural world that they brought to society. (Though not enough that they were allowed to reach heaven!) Why is it now that many people on the religious right today do not value scientists? Have we regressed since Dante’s time in certain ways? One step forward, two steps back?
Chris Christie seems to be fumbling a simple question. Christie can’t seem to say that science does not support the claims that anti-vaccination parents are making, that great harm can come from not being vaccinated, and that all parents should make sure that their kids get vaccinated. Although his answer, when asked about vaccinations, was more nuanced than the insane rhetoric of the anti-vaccination crowd, he turned what could have been a touchdown for common sense into a political waffle.
He said that although he and his wife had vaccinated their children, “It’s more important what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official. I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well. So that’s the balance that the government has to decide… Not every vaccine is created equal, and not every disease type is as great a public-health threat as others.”
Basically instead of saying what was the moral thing to do, what was the reality of the situation, his answers in a manner that at best is a weak political answer, and at worst shows that he doesn’t have the facts on a major issue. I know that some of you will find his answer to be measured. However, at no point does he have to say that the government should force kids to get vaccinated. He could simply lay out the facts and make a pressing case on why parents should decide to get vaccinated, because it is in everyone’s interest. If you read the article you will see that Christie has a record of this sort of thing.
I cannot understand why modern Republicans are so anti-science. (I mean aside from the fact that on certain issues like global warming their campaign contributions depend on it.) We are not talking about debating moral questions over established scientific fact, but actually political leaders debating the proven science itself.
Americans want to be seen as world leaders. As long as we have a percentage of our leaders taking such buffoonish stances, we will be increasingly viewed as being behind the times by a large part of the world. (And by “behind the times” I am using my own wishy-washy language meaning that many people will be scared as shit by our ignorance!)
The first article is about the gap between the opinions of the general public and the second is about how the President had to remind people that it was safe to get vaccines. One of my last blogs (I will link it at the end.) was about how our society relies too heavily on experts, especially the kind on TV that are used to shape public opinion on moral and political issues. However, where experts are really valuable is on technical issues, which Howard Zinn, in the excerpt I published, eludes to, although perhaps not strongly enough. Scientists can’t teach you morality, but scientists can give you the technical facts on which to base morality on. Scientists are not experts at complex ethical questions regarding manmade climate change, but they can in fact tell you that man is contributing to climate change. Scientists should not be the ones laying out the reason why it is ethical to vaccinate your children, but they should be the ones that tell you if vaccines are safe or not. Yet on climate change, vaccinations, and other topics of the day, we have a large percentage of the population that ignores the cold hard evidence on such issues. What does it mean when a President has to waste his time telling people that it is safe to get vaccinations when the overwhelming scientific evidence is that it is indeed safe?
Again the only way a democracy can work is if the general population actively tries to stay informed. We have too many people that believe in nonsensical unsupported gibberish. There is a great deal of senselessness on the internet, but at the same time it is actually pretty easy to get the correct information if you diligently search for it. A democracy is supposed to put leadership in the hands of people, but people, in order to deserve that leadership, must also assume the burdens of that leadership. That means spending at least part of your life trying to stay informed as to what is actually going on.
Why are we spending so much of our time arguing over things that are settled science? I think it is because of the corrupting influence that the god of money has on our society. There scores of think-tanks that have been created, often by corporate money, to try to influence public debate and public policy. There are a great deal of political “leaders” that are often shills for different industries. Many of the so-called “experts” on TV have been bought and paid for by different industries. People like the Koch brothers are purposely trying to dismantle education, particularly science education, but really education that gets people to think critically. In an age when we are bombarded with information, it is more important that people can think critically than ever before. People need the ability to actually tell the difference between respected technical experts of certain fields and bought and paid for talking heads, which I admit can be hard to do if you don’t actually have the time to read up on stuff. The media, especially the mainstream corporate media, does not do its duty in telling its audiences who is receiving checks from where.
There is so much to discuss on this topic, but for the time being I will leave it to you to explore on your own. Try to teach yourself about the role of think-tanks in our society. Also, google Barry McCaffrey, who was a military expert often brought on TV shows in the lead up to the Iraq War. Then spend some time googling where he gets his various paychecks from. He is a great example to understand how money corrodes public debate.
My previous post on experts here:
Hat tip to my friend Peter for the second article.
Is Keystone Backfiring on GOP Leaders?
We can only hope so! On the road this weekend, so posting will be sporadic.
Andrew Sullivan has an interesting article about Pope Francis, the Pope’s encyclical on climate change, and the far right’s anger over the Pope’s stance on climate change. It should be mentioned that Sullivan is a Catholic. A sample:
The theocons created an abstract fusion of GOP policy and an unrecognizable form of Christianity that saw money as a virtue, the earth as disposable, and the poor as invisible. It couldn’t last, given the weight of Christian theology and tradition marshaled against it. And it hasn’t. Francis is, moreover, indistinguishable on this issue from Benedict XVI and even John Paul II. As in so many areas, it’s the American far right whose bluff is finally being called.
The above article is a long and interesting article about the scientific and philosophical debate over conciousness. A good read if you have the time.