Intellectual honesty obligates me to respect certain facts in Dave Bary’s commentary (“Climate change single biggest issue in 2020 election, The Daily News, June 27), but without endorsing his central premise that it looms as the greatest threat to our descendants.
He may be right in his prediction that it will be the most important issue in the 2020 elections. And there’s no way to measure the enormous behavioral changes it has already caused in the lives of millions of people. In this sense climate change is real enough, though in other ways it may prove to be real in the way the phony science used against Galileo was real.
Bary then injects a distorting political slant to his climate commentary when he says that the present administration is “trying to roll back every regulation made by the previous administration.” This sweeping claim weakens his point by overstating it. To exaggerate the facts is always to diminish the truth.
Bary describes an apocalyptic earth with a hot-house climate in which “issues regarding health care, immigration and national security would increase a thousand-fold due to intensifying heat waves, droughts, floods, crop failures, fires, extinctions and rising sea levels.” Is he right? It remains to be seen.
I for one among millions have yet to be convinced for at least two main reasons: 1. Dire predictions like these were made decades ago but did not happen, which obviously means they were based on flawed science. 2. There’s no scientific consensus on climate change, even though it has been consecrated as immutable truth in political circles. Many experts, perhaps a majority, take it for granted, but an impressive number of their credentialed colleagues don’t.
Meanwhile, as the debate goes on, earth’s climate continues to change, as it always has, and perhaps forever shall. The question is whether and to what extent humans have a role in that change. The many strata we see along cutaway mountain roads offer visible proof of climate change eons before humans appeared on earth. The evidence for human involvement is thus questionable, and the scientific community remains divided, despite what political propagandists claim.
It seems the sea level has indeed risen a few millimeters in some places, but dropped a few in others. Ice has melted in some areas, accumulated in others. Glacier chunks falling into the ocean may alarm us, but isn’t that what these ice rivers have always done? And aren’t the carbon dioxide emissions we worry about and penalize people for actually a good thing? Last I heard, plants need carbon dioxide in order to grow and free the oxygen we need from its molecular bondage to carbon. There’s even talk of a “CO2 drought.” So bring on the carbon dioxide; we need more of it.
Dylan Thomas would have us “burn and rage at close of day,” but I prefer to dwell on Emerson’s “deep remedial force” ever at work healing our always wounded world.