A Call for Reason
As one who sat on the fence regarding the war in Iraq, I have to say that I am more pessimistic than ever regarding the situation. The fact that no WMD were found in Iraq makes it seem more plausible that the White House pulled a fast one on us. While I don’t mourn the loss of Hussein, I feel like skeptics such as myself will be hard pressed to give back trust to the President who Cries Wolf in the next couple of decades—something that could be dangerous considering the fact that there really are enemies of our country out there.
I recently listened to Rush Limbaugh whine about Democrats who still criticize the Bush administration’s policies regarding Iraq. Limbaugh complained that John Kerry was still saying the same things about Bush months after the election that he had said during the campaign… what happened to Kerry being inconsistent Rush?
But that’s politics, and we can expect unverified accusations from unqualified wind bags from any side of the fence. Limbaugh, like anyone else immersed in politics (politicians and talk show commentators alike), says anything that suites his needs at the moment. I’m sure that Kerry may have flipped here and their, but I doubt it was any more than Bush or other politicians flipped. And I guess Limbaugh is excused since he is expected to rally conservative sentiment, regardless of veracity.
But what really bothered me about Rush’s comments, was that he repeatedly mocks the scientific community for issues such as global warming. I guess Rush would call me a "wacko”, but from someone as pretentious as him, I think that’s quite acceptable. I think that Limbaugh wants the world to warm simply so his hot air doesn’t stick out too much.
Limbaugh was stupid enough to say that "Democrats” want to cut greenhouse gas emissions simply because they want to punish Americans and get foreigners rich. That type of remark is good for enflaming your uncritical fans, but it’s flamingly irresponsible and naïve. Reports from major scientific communities do not in the slightest disagree that the earth is warming or that greenhouse gases play a role in that phenomena. But Limbaugh would have you and I believe that industry plays no role in the change of the world environment, and that the entire concept of global warming is simply a scare tactic by "liberals”.
But the fact is that greenhouse gases play a role in warming the global climate; they also play a role in depleting the ozone layer that protects organic life (like you, me, pets and our kids) from deadly ultraviolet radiation. Limbaugh wants to laugh it off as a big conspiracy to take money from corporations. Unfortunately, millions of people take Limbaugh seriously; no one has bothered to ask him to produce his earth-science credentials. (I can’t produce mine either—but I’m siding with the scientists who study the earth and understand science rather than a media mogul who doesn’t know what the word reality means.)
But then again, I don’t know why I bother getting annoyed with idiots like Limbaugh. Tragedy and disaster is already built into the fabric of our world. The recent Tsunami in Indonesia is an example of how short-sighted humans are. We get so caught up in fighting among ourselves (via military machines, political machinations, religious movements) that we expend ourselves on self-destructive behavior rather than prepare for the future.
I doubt humans can even get past it, but think about this. A single earthquake killed over a hundred thousand people. Yet political movements obsess more about preventing terrorists from killing a dozen here and a hundred there. Terrorism is not an issue to ignore… but maybe it’s time for some perspective. A terrorist group owning a nuke would be a huge problem… but our built-in environmental and global problems ought to occupy a bigger chunk of our concern.
The mass media plays a role in the skewed perspective we have regarding threats facing humanity. Remember the Anthrax scare? Our government spent millions of dollars to clean up a small quantity of Anthrax, and the media clung to it for months. Sadly, handful of people died. But in perspective, millions of people die every year because of hate, ignorance, war, famine, disease, disaster… The human mind is so easily distracted, and media organizations, like politicians, take advantage of it every day. Making mountains out of mole hills is a lucrative business.
There isn’t anything anyone could have done to stop the Tsunami. But issues like global warming are things our society has the ability to address. Unfortunately, we are only human… we’d rather go fight for dominance rather than live by ideals we profess. We’d prefer to be top-dog right now rather than set the foundations for a healthy world our kids will run. We’d rather get caught up in the latest sensation than take a cold, hard look at the world we live in.
Personally, I’m disappointed with the government because I’ve been one of the Middle-of-the-Road Guys (who hears nuts like Limbaugh call me a Liberal, and hippies calling me a Slave to the Machine). I’m disappointed that I have to tell my leftist friends that they may have been right about Bush, and that I was too skeptical to believe it; moreover, I’m bothered because I think many of them were right, but for the wrong reasons—I don’t want the next generation to fall into the liberal trap of believing all problems can be solved with compassion and peace.
It’s a crazy world we live in. The best way to deal with that fact is to mature as a species, understand the precarious nature of human existence, and look at it through a realistic paradigm. It’s time to let go of simple-minded primate dominance struggles and take up the challenge of culturing the potential of humanity. Science needs to become a bigger focus of society as a tool to meet the challenges that we face, between cultures and between humans and nature. That means turning a blind ear to charlatans like Limbaugh who want to blind the public by turning them against science.
Anthrax Scare Resource
- We Need Science
Essays on the need to prioritize science in our everyday lives--and to focus on science in our schools.
- The Public Disdain for Science
- A Call for Reason
- Related Topics