Thursday, December 3, 2009

Global Warming Becomes Climategate! So Now What?

If you haven't heard by now, there appears to be a massive scandal involved with the concept of global warming--namely, that the science behind it is bogus--part of a massive conspiracy to control the world's industry. And, apparently, it's been going on for almost 200 years (185, to be precise). No, I'm not making this up--just Google "global warming emails" if you don't believe me. In fact, if George Monbiot's blog at ("Global Warming Rigged? Here's the Email I'd Need to See", is any indication, the best screenwriters in Hollywood couldn't make this stuff up. Don't take my word for it; do the research for yourself. There are plenty of leads to follow.

The problem, of course, is that, if true, this scandal damages the credibility of not just global warming science (and anyone associated with it), but potentially, science--and scientists--in general, and any legitimate issues pertaining to the environment--and there are many. Not to mention how it potentially sets back the green movement by a hundred years--with all those potential new green industry jobs at stake. With the economy in its current shape, this is not the kind of news that we need right now. So what do we do? What happens when scientists, who we depend on to explain and define our world, in a practical, functional sense, cannot be trusted?

It's very important not to lose perspective. Let's remember that scientists, like people in general, are not perfect. There are those who operate by a code of ethics, and those who allow themselves, through excessive self-interest, to fall under the sway of corruption. Society is rife with corruption; there's a new scandal uncovered almost everyday. The only defenses against it are information, education, communication, vigilance, and community spirit. As with our politicians, teachers, doctors, and civil servants of every type, we must hold our scientists to the highest standards. These are the same standards that we expect the businesses that we patronize to uphold. What we expect, we should embody. Teach by example. Treat everyone that we come across in life the way that we would want to be treated--with respect and compassion. That's the true business model. That's the foundation of a rock-solid economy. Anything less is doomed to fail. Remember that old adage about either learning from the mistakes of history or repeating them?

So let's appreciate all the good that our scientists have done for us, and have yet to do. (Cars. Airplanes. Vaccines. Cell phones. The Internet. And so on.) But let's never forget to remain involved and informed. Scientists, like all our public servants, require constant and consistent scrutiny. Their activities need transparency. They also require our support and encouragement. As long as they're doing what they're supposed to be doing, they should have nothing to hide. The same goes for the rest of us.