[Coral-List] Pew report on climate change

Steve Mussman sealab at earthlink.net
Sat Nov 20 17:25:17 EST 2010

The Pew Research Center’s survey that Milton Ponson posted is indeed 
troubling, but at the same time its findings should come as no surprise.
The partisan divide that the poll revealed on climate change and energy 
policy is simply reflective of the polarizing differences that exist on
any number of critical issues.

In the past I have opined that in order to reverse this trend, the scientific
community needs to step up and be more assertive in communicating with the public
at large. This, in the belief that popular opinion would eventually react and adjust
appropriately to reason. I’m afraid that such logic has already proven to be highly 
simplistic and exceedingly optimistic. I regret asserting such nonsense.

Considering the amount of resources utilized by those promoting the campaign to
downplay the pernicious nature of anthropogenic climate change, the prospects for 
reversing the prevailing public perception are beginning to dissipate. Unless a 
counter force capable of momentous push back suddenly appears, we can only expect 
the disturbing trend to gain impetus. The expectation that scientists should collectively 
accept responsibility to counter these forces is beyond reason. After all, scientists
have their own interests to protect and they cannot be expected to fulfill a role
that requires such an elevated level of risk and self-sacrifice. 

When one factors in the state of current fiscal conditions, we may be facing
the perfect storm. Under these circumstances it is highly unlikely that any economic
policy designed to reduce carbon emissions (like a carbon tax), no matter how well 
conceived, could possibly be agreed upon by our polarized government institutions.
It is just not going to happen and we can only hope to buy time. That is, if there
is time before the tipping point is upon us.  

There is of course, another consideration that may well be the proverbial 
eight hundred-pound gorilla in the room. That is the fact that environmental issues
that threaten coral reefs and other ecosystems are of little consequence
(and therefore, a low priority) to most Americans. It may be that even if they 
believed and accepted as fact the worst case scenarios relating to anthropogenic
climate change, it would not elicit the appropriate response.

"The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice 
to solve most of the world's problems."- Mohandas K. Gandhi


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