An Inconvenient Truth is fast becoming Gospel truth, and it’s being passed on to the next generation. Yesterday, as I was listening to Dennis Prager, he asked how many parents have heard from their children that An Inconvenient Truth is being shown at school. I haven’t heard that from my kids, but “Time for Kids,” a Time Magazine publication, and something my 2nd grader brings home every week, is doing a good job of passing on the received wisdom.
The cover of this four page, slick, heavily illustrated handout shows a pretty white polar bear on ice, at water’s edge. The main caption reads “On thin ice.” The photo is labeled “A polar bear tries to hold its ground on the melting sea ice in Svalbard, Norway.” (Actually, it looks to me as if it’s hunting, but what do I know.) The come on is “Polar ice is melting, putting polar bears in danger. Can we save them?”
Open the little faux magazine, and this is the cover story:
Feeling the Heat
Polar bears live on sea ice above the Arctic Circle. About 20,000 polar bears can be found on Earth. Nearly 5,000 live in Alaskan waters.
Nature has prepared them for harsh conditions. But nothing could prepare them for a new danger that they face.
The polar bears’ world is melting. Studies show that polar ice is shrinking. Scientists blame global warming. They say that certian kinds of air pollution are quickly making the world too world.
A Big Bear Problem
Two weeks ago, the U.S. Government said it was taking steps to list the polar bear as a threatened species. That would help protect the bears.
Polar bears depend on sea ice for their survival. The ice is where they hunt seals, their main source of food.
Some melting and refreezing of polar ice is natural. But in a warmer world, this process speeds up. The bears have less time to hunt for food. Many have been found in poor health. The number of bears is falling.
If the goverment decides to list the bears as threatened, it will make a plan and strict rules to protect them. “Polar bearse are nature’s ultimate survivors,” says Dirk Kempthorne, a lawmaker involved in the decision. With help from humans, these special creatures can bounce back.
The article is not intemperate in its tone. It just operates on an assumption — it’s all human’s fault — that is a politicized conclusion that may or may not be right. As I keep saying, I don’t doubt that the earth is warming. I just note that this isn’t the first time this has happened, and this may not be the first time that scientists have gotten a wrong idea in their head.
As Peter Wimsey reminded his beloved in Gaudy Night, an investigator should never commit the “fatal error of theorizing ahead of my data” — yet that seems to be precisely what’s happening with the politicization of global warming. So, for now, consider me a scientific troglodyte, not because I don’t believe the possibility that we humans are in fact having an effect on world climate, but because I don’t trust entirely the sources pushing that conclusion, and because I dislike strongly the attempt to silence dissenting voices.