It’s a funny thing about the news cycle. Roughly 48 hours after news is released it’s considered ‘old news’. I don’t prescribe to this theory. The implication is that for one, everyone is aware of each and every news story that emerges within the context of this time period, and two, that the news is no longer relevant after the passing of a mere two days.
Perhaps this is merely an excuse as to why I’m late off the bus in reporting on the following story, or maybe it’s worth consideration. Either way, if you’re sick to death of seeing the below 58 second you tube video then by all means move on to the next thing. It is after all the nature of our minds to always be seeking the next thing, and far be it from me to interfere with the time honored tradition of a short attention span when it comes to the news.
Should Joe Barton’s Biblical Beliefs Contribute To Public Policy?
The above clip is House Representative Joe Barton weighing in on climate change. To briefly unpack the astoundingly ignorant argument I will point out but a few misconceptions, and in the spirit of charity even grant him unproven truths.
Let’s say there was a great flood in which Noah somehow congregated two of each animal aboard his arc in order to preserve the diversity of life evolved – or I would suppose in Joe Barton’s estimation created by god – it stands to reason this flood would have been localized. There is zero evidence such a flood occurred throughout the world, as such an event is not only unprecedented, but defies logic.
Aright, so I’ve taken for granted there was a great flood and even an arc built by Noah on the instructions of god. Evidence of climate change? Sure, a flood is a change of climate, or at least an isolated weather event that could be attributed to climate change. Has the climate changed before, as agreed upon by scientists? Why yes, it certainly has. I believe we’re all familiar with the concept of ice ages. Does any of this have one shred of evidence to speak about Man influenced climate change? Why no, of course it does not.
A Brief Overview Of The Runaway Greenhouse Gas Effect
To give a brief summary of the not too difficult to grasp concept of the runaway greenhouse gas effect, let’s explore some simple facts. Greenhouse gas emissions; be they carbon or methane, build up in the atmosphere and make it more difficult for heat to escape back into outer space. The increasing warmth contributes to the melting of the polar ice caps, ice caps that reflect sunlight back into space. As the polar ice caps melt, more of the sunlight is absorbed into the ocean, not only contributing to the acceleration of the increasing ocean temperatures, but acidifying the ocean to kill off carbon absorbing organisms, which in turn contributes to the runaway greenhouse gas effect.
Venus is an excellent example of a runaway greenhouse gas experiment that has created a hellish environment with temperatures up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit on the planet’s surface. There’s no reason to think we’re headed in that direction anytime too soon, but we’re in for extinction level events far before things get that hairy.
Humility Regarding The Overwhelming Scientific Consensus
But this article isn’t to convince you about climate change. Well, not entirely. The point I would like to assert is that science must inform public policy. Why? Humility. Would you trust a biblical interpretation on how to fight a bacterial infection, or modern science? Would you prefer to have your cancer prayed away by your local community or to have one of the most skilled surgeons go to work on extracting it. If there’s undrinkable water that poses the threat of dysentery, do you want that water cleansed by good intentions or by scientifically proven tablets that will make the water drinkable?
What does it mean to have an expertise in a field of science – or any field for that matter that requires years of dedication, research and experience in the field? It means your opinion is worth more than the laymen. Be it climate change, medicine or modern architecture designed to withstand earthquakes, we must have the humility to listen to scientists and not smirk with a an undeserved sense of importance and knowledge because we think texts written thousands of years ago somehow trump an overwhelming scientific consensus.
This news story and the accompanying video clip would be more humorous if it wasn’t for the fact these opinions are validated in the way public policy plays out. Value scientists; they’re not conspiring against us in the interests of getting grants to do painstaking, laborious work to bring about knowledge that will be subject to peer review. To my mind, it’s far more likely Joe Barton’s using the bible as a pretense to peddle his true interests, or perhaps that’s too generous. Perhaps it’s just a pretense based the fact he’s beholden to the oil and gas industry and has their interests at heart instead of his electorate.