I can’t say I was surprised when I read, via a Drudge link, that John Kerry made his first foreign policy speech as secretary of State on the heavyweight scientific subject of climate change (the perils thereof, of course).
But I did have a chuckle, remembering that sometime during or after the 2004 presidential campaign it was revealed that Kerry did even more poorly at Yale than the supposedly dopey George W. Bush. In fact, the former Massachusetts senator received four “Ds” in his freshman year, including one in geology.
Many of us will recall that geology, often known as “Rocks for Jocks,” was the preferred method of fulfilling the college science requirement for those challenged in that area. But a “D” was still pretty disgraceful. I know, having attended Dartmouth and Yale in the same era. (I wasn’t the greatest student, but I was a lot better than Kerry or Bush without a whole lot of effort.)
We can assume that our new Sec’y of State is not a science whiz. Nevertheless, Mr. Kerry is apparently certain that anthropogenic global warming is a great danger to the human race and should be the object of a major international effort.
Why does he think so? Because he assumes the vast majority of scientists say so, I would imagine. And also because that’s what the bien pensant think and there is no one more orthodox in his views than John Kerry.
A recent survey of 1077 professional engineers and geoscientists reported by Investor’s Business Daily gives quite a different picture, however: “… it turns out that only 36% believe that human activities are causing Earth’s climate to warm.” Indeed, if you read this study you find that there has been a shift among scientists and engineers away from AGW. And this is leaving out whether warming is ultimately good or bad, that the polar ice cap has been growing by leaps and bounds and that polar bear population is exploding, etc., etc.
But unlike John Kerry, I have no idea what the truth is. I am not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV, nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. I do not write of this to reopen the global warming discussion, on which I am not expert. What I am trying to do is underscore what a dangerous moment we are at in our society when politicians attempt to make policy based on technological and scientific issues for which they have no discernible preparation or understanding. (The exception may be the few doctors in Congress, cf. the recent speech by Ben Carson.)
We should be especially wary of politicians who make these pronouncements about subjects of which they know little or nothing. And unfortunately plenty do. It is a sign they are likely to make pronouncements about all sorts of things based on limited knowledge or, even more frequently, dumbed down conventional wisdom (excuse the tautology).
Kerry’s desire to be a bien pensant, to be “well thought of,” is quite extreme. That was partly what motivated the sixties and seventies war protestors that both he and I were. We wanted to be the cool guys. It didn’t matter if you knew anything in those days — just as long as you were cool. But that’s over. We don’t live in Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World” anymore. Well, maybe Kerry does.
Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took
But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me too
What a wonderful world this would be
Don’t know much about geography
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra
Don’t know what a slide rule is for
But I do know, one and one is two
And if this world could be with you
What a wonderful world this would be