In the most notorious trial in the history of science, the Inquisition condemned Galileo in 1633. The aged scientist was forced to recant his life’s work. The fact that the earth revolves around the sun threatened the church establishment’s doctrine. Galileo was worse than right — he was inconvenient.
Since his trial, scientists have mythologized him as their secular saint.
How times have changed: With the Climategate scandal, we now find scientists in the role of inquisitors — suppressing inconvenient facts and persecuting researchers who challenge the doctrine decreed by the Global Warming clergy.
There are two potentially world-changing issues in play. First, as President Obama prepares yet another soaring speech, this time for Copenhagen, we face the complex issue of climate change.
The second vexing issue is: Can we trust our scientists? They’re supposed to be the guardians of truth, who unlock the secrets of the universe with scrupulous objectivity. Can we survive scientists who lie to influence policy?
On the first count — the global- warming question — I’m like most Americans: I lack the technical background to investigate and judge the data myself. Is climate change real? Yes. But the climate has always changed in great cycles. Are today’s changes man-made and newly destructive? I don’t know — although I suspect we make things worse.
It would help if I could depend on scientists to lay out the case honestly. But now we find that some of the most influential specialists on climate change are outright liars, manipulating data and (shades of Inquisition bookburnings) using the peer-review process to silence those who suggest that global warming’s more complex than Al Gore claims.
This matters. Because we non-experts are trying to find our way. Responsible citizens care about the environment, if to varying degrees — who among us doesn’t want clean drinking water?
Most of us are willing to do sensible things to safeguard the environment. But we don’t want to break our economy. Nor do we want to give China, the world’s worst polluter, a free pass. Rational burdens shared make sense, but ideology-driven restrictions unfairly applied won’t fly (despite the Obama administration’s attempts to end-run Congress).
And sorry: A green-jobs revolution remains a dream. Americans need real jobs now. Does it really have to be either/or? I’m a conservationist, but not an environmentalist. The difference? A conservationist believes that trees are important. An environmentalist believes that trees are more important than people. I love the outdoors, but I also like electricity.
And I don’t like agreements that only we, the Canadians and a few European nations will honor. I don’t want vast sums of money poured into corrupt foreign governments, leading to worse environmental degradation. Unearned wealth transfers between classes or continents are poisonous to all parties. Let’s not do further damage to the human environment.
I don’t want to kill those polar bears. But crippling our economy would end up being worse for the environment than the status quo. Companies facing bankruptcy don’t invest in green technologies. And desperate families can’t pay the premium for energy-saving appliances (even with government tax breaks).
We need less shouting and more common sense. A thriving economy can do more to protect the environment than a desperate one.
And let’s not forget the “human ecology” of families struggling to put food on the table. Extreme environmentalism is a rich man’s sport that rides hell-for-leather through the poor man’s fields.
Yet we can’t just relax and fire up another coal-burning power plant, either (if green jobs are still a dream, clean coal is a fairy tale). We do need to respect the God-given natural world with which we’re blessed.
But who’s left to turn to for guidance, now that the scientists have betrayed us? Big Energy, with its abysmal pollution record? Environmental fanatics, who want us all to live in communal log cabins and grow our own (vegetarian) food? Can’t we reach sane compromises?
Clean air? You betcha. But let’s have clean science, too. And honest accounting.
There is some justice in this prankster universe: Those ideology- driven scientists have done colossal damage to the extremist platform for which they cheated, lied and bullied. But now who can we trust? ExileStreet
courtesy NY Post / copyright 2009 NY Post
Ralph Peters new novel, “The War After Armageddon,” is on the street. He is Fox News’ strategic analyst. His most recent book is “Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World.”
Peters is a retired Army officer and the author of 19 books, as well as of hundreds of essays and articles, written both under his own name and as Owen Parry. He is a frequent columnist for the New York Post and other publications.