Environmental Protection

Sano made me think of something that’s bugged me for a long time: our reliance on scientific data and technology to verify what is right before our eyes.

Rising from the Armchair

Yeb Sano, the Philippines’ delegate to the UN Climate Summit in Warsaw, challenged those who deny the reality of climate change to “get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of your armchair” and actually go to areas affected by super-storms, drought, flood, melting glaciers and polar ice caps.

In making that challenge, Sano made me think of something that’s bugged me for a long time: our reliance on scientific data and technology to verify what is right before our eyes. To me, it’s like going on wunderground.com to prove that the rain I see, hear and even smell is actually falling outside my open window. That regardless of how flooded my back yard, I need the expert opinion of the local meteorologist to verify the rainfall “significant” enough to justify the additional five minutes in the shower in my drought plagued community.

Expert opinions are cited by climate change activists and climate change deniers. Sano even referred to recent science reports from the IPCC, which essentially provided scientific explanation of and expectation for the devastating storm actually occurring in the Philippines. Yet regardless of the realities of super-storms, melting glaciers, dying coral reefs, drought and record temperatures, debates continue to erupt over scientific data, models and which data and models accurately measure climate changes.

Science is supposed to deal with hard facts that represent a truth. These hard facts are derived from repeated conclusions from the same tests/studies that use the same criteria and the same methods. But some scientists are recognizing the hard facts are actually not so hard, let alone true. In The Truth Wears Off, published December 13, 2010 in the New Yorker, Jonah Lehrer writes “claims that have been enshrined in textbooks are suddenly unprovable. This phenomenon doesn’t have an official name, but it’s occurring across a wide range of fields, from psychology to ecology.”  

Instead of relying on science, isn’t it time to rely on reality? What do you think? Are you confused by conflicting scientific studies? Can you describe environmental conditions that contradict or confirm science?

Yeb Sano’s speech was posted on the Responding to Climate Change website, www.rtcc.org November 13, 2013. To read Mr. Sano’s speech and subsequent comments, please click Yeb Sano’s name in the first paragraph.

The Truth Wears Off, published December 13, 2010 in The New Yorker, can be read by clicking on the article’s title or at www.newyorker.com 

Posted by Antonia Gregory on Nov 15, 2013 at 8:52 AM


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