The Drudge Report – as always fixated on the weather – reports the dawning of a new Ice Age this morning. Cold weather? Sure. Ice Age? I doubt it – but anything’s possible. Some Europeans are predicting their coldest winter in years.
What do we make of this?…. Myself? Not much. But my Governor is still holding firm for global warming. According to Arnold, it’s the cause of our increased fires, even though the Indians called California “the land of the many smokes” centuries ago. These days everybody seems to have a vested interest in the weather. [Whatever happened to the old saw: “Everybody talks about it, nobody does a thing about it…”?-ed. Good question.]
Figuring out the facts is complicated by the sad truth that many scientist are the indentured servants of ignorant politicians. If they don’t go along with the prevailing winds (excuse the metaphor once again), they don’t get grants. This is all the more dangerous, because some of the politicians are half-informed, and therefore not completely dismissible, like Arnold: Asked what he tells someone who says climate change is theoretical and questions the harm, Schwarzenegger told Pelley, “I always say, well there were people that were debating over if the world is a globe. They thought for a long time it was flat. And there’s still people that think that they’re flat. And there are people that still live in the Stone Age.”
Well, I guess it depends on what your definition of a flat world is. Or, more specifically, who’s defining it? I mean no particular disrespect to Arnold – who is probably brighter than most pols – when I say I would bet my house he would flunk a standard test in climatology. I would too. When I read Roy Spencer’s Climate Confusion, it took me about ten pages to realize how complicated the subject is for the layman. And that’s not to say I agree with Spencer. I simply don’t know. What astounds me about Schwarzenegger, et al, is that they sound so positive that they know the truth on the issue when the history of science is one of nearly constant revision. Perhaps that’s the secret of their political success. Sound as if you know, even if you don’t.
But there is a perhaps deeper explanation that occurred to me this morning. Whether we admit it or not, most of us in more verbal professions – politics, history, journalism, the arts, law, etc., etc. – have distinct feelings of inferiority to scienctists. They know things we don’t understand – at least not fully. (Many of us took courses like geology in college to avoid embrassment. Al Gore is an amusing example of this because he had a pathetic academic career even in the humanities.) By agreeing with scientists on issues like athropogenic global warming we can be seen – and even see ourselves – as their equals, if only for a few moments. In so doing, we are fools.