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There's No 'Middle Ground' In The Climate Debate

12/28/2016 11:48 EST | Updated 12/28/2016 11:48 EST
Tom Bean via Getty Images
This glacier is called 'South Sawyer Glacier' located in 'Tracy Arm Wilderness Area', 'Tongass National Forest' in the state of Alaska. Calving is the term for an iceberg breaking off or shedding a mass of ice.

Canadians, so the urban myth goes, are polite folk. Nice. Smiley. Ready to compromise and see both sides of an issue.

Exactly the sort of cultural moose-shit that now has us compromising facts. Serious scientific facts.

No better example is a recent story in the National Observer. There we read about one of Canada's top-notch climate scientists, a man whose career has spanned 50 years of work. He recently topped off all his hard work by winning a prize for climate research.

It's not that Professor John England, of the University of Alberta, has doubts about the reality of climate change. No doubt whatsoever appears in the science he meticulously charts.

Trouble is, the good scientist unleashes a real zinger while musing about our current political feuding over continued expansion of fossil fuel in Canada:

"There has to be at least a dialogue that's based on middle ground, but middle ground that's based on thoughtful perspectives that are well-substantiated."

Doubling down on the vapidity, he adds: "We need to have some reconciliation between these opposing viewpoints. Right now, it's too intensely dualistic."

Err. Umm.

Perhaps there was a problem in the translation over at the National Observer with the reporter writing this story not quoting Prof. England in context? As it stands, something very Alice in Wonderland-isj jumps out at the reader.

Calling climate change a theory that needs "reconciliation" is about as unscientific you can get.

On the one hand, Prof. England's scientific work should actually help to weed out the climate deniers, along with those who have the slightest inkling we should be expanding fossil-fuel exploitation (not surprisingly, usually the same people).

It should also correct, in particular, our prime minister's cognitive dissonance, getting all huffy-puffy in Paris about the seriousness of climate change, only to then authorize LNG factories and the massive expansion of bitumen out through our provinces to the B.C. coast-line.

Instead, what Prof. England offers in his top-notch climate science research he befogs with his sloppy social commentary.

What about his suggestion for "reconciling" opinions?

We aren't arguing about what colour to paint the local hockey arena. It's about the science concerning one of the most dire issues facing humanity. So for starters, how about if we don't ask how to "reconcile" public opinion before knowing what the science says?

On the subject of anthropogenic climate change, given that 97 per cent of all climate scientists say it's a reality -- exactly those who research and publish on the topic -- then what exactly is left for us in the public to reconcile?

As a consequence, calling climate change a theory that needs "reconciliation" is about as unscientific you can get.

So, on one side -- those who actually do the science -- there is an astonishing consensus among the world's researchers. On the other side, a handful of scientists who dispute the evidence -- not in peer-reviewed science journals, but on YouTube videos and blogs.

(Funny, too, as many of those deniers end up stuffing their pockets thanks to the very fossil fuel companies who are making the global mess.)

So, what kind of dualism is it when there are abundant scientific facts on one side, and on the other side, a void of facts?

Science, we are glad to note, doesn't care who agrees or not.

Is this the world we now live in, where just because some dude on YouTube says the science is "controversial," a dualism magically pops into existence saying, "Well golly, guess we are stumped again!"

No. Science, we are glad to note, doesn't care who agrees or not. Either the science is evidence-based or it isn't. Sure, there are some topics where the science is debatable, but not because some people don't like what the science says, but because the science isn't clear.

That's why there is no dualism on the topics between chemistry and alchemy. Between astronomy and astrology. Between evolution and Creationism. Gravity and non-gravitationalists. Or between climate change and deniers. There is only the science.

Here's a suggestion for Doc England: Just keep explaining what the science tells us about the reality of climate change. That's it. That's all. Whether or not people like it or not. Whether or not the hoi polloi think it's true or not.

The science doesn't care who believes the facts, so why should Dr. England?

John Oliver puts it about as succinctly as any scientist could: "One in four Americans is skeptical about climate change ... Who gives a shit? That doesn't matter. You don't need people's opinions on a fact. You might as well have a poll asking which number is bigger, five or 15? Or do owls exist? Or are there hats?"

Climate change is as much a fact here as anywhere else in the world, and any attempts to "compromise" on the truth will be as devastating as any other compromise on the facts of science.

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