Monday, January 24, 2005

Saying It Ain't So, Against the Facts

We focus so much on sex education, and sometimes on evolution, that we forget other ways that the facts are under attack in the US today.
KOBE, Japan Jan 19, 2005 — The U.S. delegation to a global conference on disasters wants to purge a U.N. action plan of its references to climate change as a potential cause of future natural calamities.

The U.S. stand reflects the opposition of U.S. President George W. Bush's administration to treating global warming as a priority problem.

"It's well known that there's controversy" about climate change, Mark Lagon, deputy delegation head, told reporters Wednesday at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction. "It's our desire that this controversy not distract this conference."

The chief U.N. official here had a different view.

"I hope there will be a global recognition of climate change causing more natural disasters," said Jan Egeland, U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N.-organized network of scientists, said in its latest major assessment of climate science that the planet is warming and that this is expected to cause more extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and droughts, as the century wears on.

A broad scientific consensus attributes much of the warming to the accumulation of "greenhouse gases" in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide from fossil fuel-burning. The Kyoto Protocol, which takes effect Feb. 16, mandates cutbacks in such emissions, but the United States, the biggest emitter, has rejected that international pact. Climate Change Debated at U.N. Meeting

We live in a time and place where facts that are inconvenient or uncomfortable can simply be ... changed. If we are perturbing the equillibrium of nature by emitting tons of exhaust into the atmosphere, well, that would be quite expensive to fix.

So we will declare it not true.

Here we have the US government guy saying "there's controversy" about global warming -- there's no controversy. In the same way, you have the "intelligent design" hucksters saying "there's controversy" about the science of evolution -- no, there's not. Here in Montgomery County, we have people representing James Dobson's religious right organization telling us that "there's controversy" about whether gay people can change their orientation -- no, there's not. There's no controversy at all, everybody knows what the answer is to that one, it just happens to be inconvenient or uncomfortable for some people.

You and I can't stop this at the United Nations level. But we can put our foot down when these people try to impose their fact-reversing values in our community.


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