While climate change is the greatest threat, there are many other threats that, if we do not reverse them, could cause the collapse of our present global civilisation; yet far more people are concerned with beliefs that are entirely without evidentiary support than are trying to move the World toward sustainability.
Science has provided us with an unprecedented depth of knowledge in almost every subject, yet among the general population there is ignorance. Ignorance even of what science is, is prevalent and often profound. The great majority of people, probably even of university graduates, would be hard pressed to explain the scientific method.
A wind farm in Mid North South Australia
The world must change, with urgency, from fossil fuels to renewable energy such as wind power. Ignorance is standing in the way.
The scientific method is also explained in Wikipedia.
A scientific theory is built up over a period of time. Most theories would begin their public life by being published, together with evidence supporting the theory, in a 'learned journal'. It would be expected that the author of the theory would have studied previous research relevant to his theory, if any.
Anyone who believes the published theory is wrong can publish a refutation; an explanation of evidence that indicates the fallacy of the theory.
If a theory is important, and is not refuted over a period of time, the original paper will be referred to (referenced) by other scientists in the same or other learned journals. The number of these references provides a measure of the acceptance of the theory among the community of scientists in the particular specialty.
Theories are not all that are published in scientific journals.
Anything of interest to the scientists whose field is dealt with by the
particular journal may be published; for example Dr Naomi Oreskes, of
the University of California in San Diego, published a study that she did
showing that there is an overwhelming
consensus in the scientific
publications on the human cause for climate change.
Science has made enormous progressScience has shown us how the World and the Universe works, what the Universe is made of, even where all the elements that make up the Universe were produced. Yet ignorance in the modern world is widespread, profound, and very much on public display.
Science in practice). Of those that relate climate change to human activities, very few or none provide evidence that human activities are not the primary cause of climate change, most show strong links between the two. I refer in particular to the published study into the consensus on climate change among relevant scientists mentioned above.
From my reading of the popular science journal, Scientific American (to which I have subscribed for about 35 years), I can say that it shows a similar preponderance of articles relating climate change to human activities; while it does (correctly) give consideration to some of the more reasonable of the contrary opinion.
Of course not all supposedly scientific journals are equal. You might think that the journal published by an organisation named The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM) would be a respectable learned journal. (The head of OISM is one of the main organisers of the "31 072 American Scientists" who deny climate change.) If you look into the OISM and its climate change publication you find that it is in fact of very dubious credibility.
The popular press and the commercial media are very different to the prestigious scientific press; they are much less concerned with fact than with sensation. The latter is much more likely to sell newspapers than the former; some apparent expert who is willing to take up a view contrary to that accepted by the relevant scientific community makes good press. In the period from about 2010 to 2014 lazy, sensation seeking journalists were largely responsible for spreading the false belief that wind turbines cause illness.
I have recently been shocked at the depth of the ignorance about climate change science in the parliamentary Liberal Party of Australia; it is an indictment on Australia and the Australian voters (who voted these ignoramuses into Parliament). It was the revelation of this ignorance on the ABC Four Corners program of November 9th 2009 that provoked me to write this page.
My page on threats to our global civilisation lists many things about our present society that are unsustainable. Science has discovered these threats; in many cases science has, or can, show us how we can eliminate, or at least minimise, these threats. However, instead of recognising the threats and tackling them head-on, probably the great majority of people are either ignorant of the threats or are so hung-up on their irrational belief systems that they don't see the dire need for action.
To judge by the books that are on sale in shops, the advertising in the popular media, and the articles published in the popular media, there are far more people who base their beliefs on something other than evidence than those who look at the Earth rationally. The rise of 'new age' beliefs (things like the magical properties of crystals and pyramids; non-evidence-based therapies such as homoeopathy, reflexology, magnetic therapy and even 'cranio-sacral balancing' and 'sacred geometry grid healing'; and then the old chestnut of astrology) in comparison to science in a time when it is essential that we look rationally for cures for the World's ills, is hugely concerning.
That many (although a minority, I believe) of the Australian people are ignorant of the facts of climate change is more understandable, they do not have ready access to well-informed advice and they are receiving mixed messages from the commercial media, but for federal parliamentarians in a Western Democracy, with easy access to advice from experts in the climate science field, to be so abysmally ignorant is inexcusable.
Or could it be that these parliamentarians only claim to be climate change skeptics so that they can justify their continued support of the fossil fuel industries? Is it believable that they could be so corrupt? Is it any more believable that they could be so ignorant? (I have held elsewhere that knowingly lying about climate change in order to oppose renewable energy developments or in support of fossil fuels is the greatest crime in the history of humanity.
Warren Entsch and the Great Barrier ReefWarren Entsch was appointed Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef in the re-elected Morrison Government in late May 2019. He claimed that "the reef didn't need saving" and refused to accept that climate change was the greatest threat to the reef. This is totally at odds with what the world's climate scientists are telling us.
He went on to complain about adults "coaching" young people who quite rightly expressed deep concern for their, and the planet's, future. He said of the adults "They're frightening the living hell out of kids. It's like child abuse and I think they should be held accountable". If there was any justice in this world people like Warren Entsch would be held accountable.
Morrison Government seems hell-bent on destroying the future that these kids will live through.
The ignorance is not confined to Liberal and National partiesSteve Fielding of the Family First Party has also 'come out' as a Climate Change Skeptic. He has called for a Royal Commission into Climate Change; why doesn't he simply seek the advice of climate change scientists rather than listening to geologists who have strong links to the mining industry?
It seems that Steve Fielding has been listening to Ian Plimer, Professor of Mining Geology, University of Adelaide. (Plimer's arguments have been dealt with in Plimer versus Monbiot; where George Monbiot points out some of the many faults in Ian Plimer's book, 'Heaven and Earth: Global Warming – The Missing Science'.)
In Fielding's favour(?), his ignorance is real, not perhaps pretended as in the case of the Liberal and National Party climate change skeptics.
This followed the year 2019 which was Australia's hottest and driest year on record. There were unprecedented fires in a number of Australian states and a terrible drought.
Climate scientists had predicted for decades that climate change would result in more intense fires, longer fire danger seasons and more frequent and more severe droughts. Australia's volunteer fire leaders had openly discussed the link between the fires and climate change.
In spite of all this, Kangaroo Island's Mayor, Michael Pengilly, called ex-US President Barack Obama "so, so foolish" for linking the Kangaroo Island fires to climate change!
What Mr Obama had tweeted was:
"The catastrophic fires in Australia are the latest example of the very real and very urgent consequences of climate change. It’s on us to stay focused and protect the one planet we’ve got for the next generation"Quoting an ABC article written by Eugene Boisvert:
Kangaroo Island Mayor Michael Pengilly responded to a tweet by Barack Obama by saying climate change was not connected with the bushfire that has burnt almost half of the 4,400-square-kilometre island.The only thing good about this airing of ignorance is that it suggests that Pengilly's over-reaction would have been brought about by him feeling threatened by the many better informed people telling him that the fires are related to climate change.
Unfortunately this sort of denialism is still not uncommon in Australia. Mr Pengilly was a state Liberal MP from 2006 to 2018; climate science denialism is widespread in the Australian Liberal Party.
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