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You Can't Legislate Science -- But We Keep Trying

You Can't Legislate Science -- But We Keep Trying

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Published by: Estelle Toby Goldstein, MD on Nov 06, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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You Can't Legislate Science -- But We Keep Trying
I was surprised on October 24, 2009 to find out that the day had been designated theinternational day of climate action.The reason I was surprised was that I had not heard a blessed thing about it until that veryday. Not that I don't follow the media -- on the contrary, I check what is happening in theoccasional hard copy print, but far more often, on the internet.But what was happening all over the world on that day was something wonderful. Mysurprise was that America did not seem all that interested.We have to be. We need to be. We MUST be.The whole global warming/greenhouse effect is a pretty complex scientific mess.Basically, the biggest concern about global warming is that fuel-burning has raised the presence of carbon in our atmosphere -- mostly carbon dioxide -- and that this meansabsorption and transmission of infrared rays, which are hot and make things hot. Coaland petroleum burning
.So the Earth gets warmer, the polar icecaps melt (and the polar bears start dying off; asthey already have started) and we all get, ultimately, too warm to exist in our currentstate.This is not a projection of future dangers. We are -- right now -- past anything that could be considered "safe."I am touched by the energetic nature of the world's participation.Saddened by the lack of belief, let alone interest, going on in the United States now,according to the Christian Science Monitor article.I think one of the things that has gone wrong here is that the U.S.A. has turned the issueinto partisan politics.Most people in this country are either uninterested in the issue or are completely ignorantof the situation. Most of the problem has been the ultra-conservative faction thatcontrolled our government for the first eight years of this century. They issueddisinformation and they actually deleted scientific facts from government research intoglobal warming.
I think some of it came from the fact that Al Gore, the vice president from the previousadministration -- and the competing candidate for presidency -- made this his pet issue.Anything the administration and their mouthpieces in the media (such as Fox News, RushLimbaugh's radio program and certain publications) could do to marginalize this man wasattempted.Their position was that the dangers were all exaggerated or made up.Another factor was probably that the solution to halting global warning would impact the profit margins of the big contributors to the right wing politicians who needed to takeaction.But science is science (Look up a definition if that doesn't make sense). Facts are factsand can't be legislated. Government shouldn't dabble in science. It really angers usscientists.This was the subject of the title song of the hit musical play "Camelot" --It's true! It's true! The crown has made it clear.The climate must be perfect all the year.A law was made a distant moon ago here:July and August cannot be too hot.And there's a legal limit to the snow hereIn Camelot.The winter is forbidden till December And exits March the second on the dot.By order, summer lingers through September In Camelot.Camelot! Camelot!I know it sounds a bit bizarre,But in Camelot, CamelotThat's how conditions are.The rain may never fall till after sundown.By eight, the morning fog must disappear.In short, there's simply notA more congenial spotFor happily-ever-aftering than hereIn Camelot.Camelot! Camelot!I know it gives a person pause,
But in Camelot, CamelotThose are the legal laws.The snow may never slush upon the hillside.By nine p.m. the moonlight must appear.In short, there's simply notA more congenial spotFor happily-ever-aftering than hereIn Camelot.
Although it is good that Mr. Gore made his movie,"
andreached a fair amount of folks who may not otherwise be reached, this is not, and shouldnever be a political issue.Scientific data should be as clear as water to all. What is dangerous and what is notshould be self-evident.What is good medical care and what is bad ought to be clear, too. I guess we have alsogone and politicized that one.We live in a world that has considerable experience with natural disasters. Perhaps theone closest to us, because it happened in our own country, is hurricane Katrina.
should indeed be no less real.There are a couple of strange things going on here.First, science seems to have lost any sense of objectivity of data or findings, at least for most of the public. I always believed science was an ideal, that scientific pioneers wereheroes, that this was one of the most noble -- if not the most noble -- of human pursuits. Ido not know one person who is not involved in the scientific professions who feels thisway.I do know people who talk about "religion vs. science" as if they are two boxers in a ring,in this -- the most relitigious country on Earth. For me, there is absolutely no duality between the two pursuits. None. Perhaps someone remembers Clarence Darrow, thefamous defense attorney in the"
or "monkey" trial, where a teacher was prosecuted for teaching evolution as opposed to creation.Well, the short form is that it is not possible scientifically to tell how long a day is untilthe Earth has been created, because we measure and define a day by how long it takes for the Earth to spin around one time. So basically, the Earth could have been created inseven days if they were really long days nobody could have measured anyway. Why dowe still debate this? Why can't we all get along?

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