You don’t need people’s opinions on fact.

On May 6th, the government released the National Climate Assessment, 1250 pages long and authored by over 250 people.

iceberg

What kinds of people? Government-paid alarmists and corrupt scientists, right? A secret cabal of people who are raising a false alarm to discredit… well, you’ve heard all the counter-arguments, not one of which is worth the powder to blow it to Hell with.

Let’s look at some of what went in to this report: [1]

  • Users and stakeholders were engaged from the very beginning. Everybody could contribute: NGOs, farmer, industry, Native American nations. Many thousands of people consider this as their personal report and have embraced it.
  • The team included former Bush White House officials with climate science expertise who also functioned as lead authors.
  • There were reps from the petroleum and mining industries, economists, agronomists, fisheries experts, and city planners. There were experts that dealt first-hand with the aftermaths of Katrina and Sandy and the droughts and fires and power shortages and the spread of disease in the West.
  • Notice of every meeting was pre-published in the Federal Register, and anyone, any citizen or group at all, was welcomed to come and comment.
  • There was a several-month open review, during which anyone was welcomed to raise concerns or criticisms, and comments were abundant.
  • The report was reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences, which is firmly non-partisan.
  • Comments from all of these sources were incorporated to make the report better.
  • There was a public, traceable account for every key finding, so that anyone can look back and see how the finding was arrived at, what the studies were that it was based on, and, it is even possible to follow the account back to the original data for those studies.
  • The conclusions in the report represent a consensus of all of the authors and advisors.  The final vote to approve was unanimous.
  • The report is a product of not just NASA, but a consortium of 13 federal agencies called the US Global Change Research Program. NASA contributed substantially, but so did others, including NOAA/Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation, Health and Human Services, the Smithsonian, USAID, the Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State. It was a combined effort of many, many people from both private and public sectors.

With all of these sources, with all of this transparency, with the wide diversity of contributors and opportunities for public input – not a restricted subset, but anyone could give input, I trust the results of this report implicitly. The results are incontrovertible. This is not just Al Gore grandstanding for political gain (although I think “An Inconvenient Truth” was right on the money, regardless of its underlying motivation) – this is science. And it works.

The Gallup Poll revealed that 1 in 4 Americans doubt the veracity of climate change. However, what the public thinks of established fact is irrelevant. Some people have such an overwhelming need to be right that they ignore indisputable facts. [2] But in the end, this opposition, despite how well-funded it is and for whatever reason, will fade. There may still be over 400 people in the world who believe the earth is flat, but what they believe changes nothing.
If you have any questions, visit the website. Explore it. Understand it. And do what you can to hold back the tide, even if the trend may be irreversible.
The Old Wolf has spoken.

[1] Source: A well-placed official who contributed heavily to the work involved, whom I trust implicitly.

[2] A story from a redditor, /u/RamsesThePigeon:

The year I was in third grade was one of the best and worst of my entire educational experience, and both of those extremes were because of the teacher I had. She was beloved by most of her students – the female ones especially – but had a habit of being passive-aggressive and saccharine towards more difficult pupils. She’d find (or invent) reasons to ignore difficult questions, offer vague threats about impending punishments, or make small efforts to turn classmates against one another. She was not an especially likeable educator, and she became a truly reprehensible one when she insisted that Jupiter was bigger than the sun.

At first, it seemed like a misunderstanding. Our class had just entered into an astronomy unit, and one of our activities was to construct a scale model of the solar system. The reference image we used came from a picture book, and in it, the sun had been reduced in size. The teacher had not noticed this fact, and was therefore operating under the mistaken assumption that Jupiter was our largest celestial neighbor.

Well, I knew better, and I tried to correct her. She replied to me with a tone of aloof dismissal, stating quite clearly that I was wrong. “That’s okay, though,” she said. “After all, you’re in school to learn new things.” Then she smiled sweetly, and I returned to my seat feeling thoroughly confused and frustrated. In the weeks that followed, I engaged in an all-out war against my teacher’s pseudo-science. My father, having heard everything from me, sent me to school with one of his college textbooks, hoping to turn the tide of the battle. My teacher refused to even look at it. “Class,” she said, rolling her eyes, “who can tell Max what the biggest object in the solar system is?”

My face was burning with anger and shame as every other student shouted “JUPITER!”

Things only escalated from there. I refused to back down, despite having been labeled as the class dunce. Each time the topic came up, I tried to offer my evidence… and each time, I was steadfastly opposed by everyone within earshot. Finally, after over a month of torment, our astronomy unit culminated in a field trip to the local planetarium. The show was a breathtaking adventure through our galaxy and the universe beyond, and it left me feeling infinitesimally small… yet strangely empowered. As the lights came up, our guide to the cosmos asked if there were any questions.

“Which is bigger,” I shouted, jumping to my feet, “Jupiter or the sun?!” My entire class sighed in frustration, my teacher barked at me to sit down, and the astronomer looked thoroughly confused.

“The sun, of course,” he scoffed.

A hush fell over the room. After a moment of utter silence, a girl named Melissa spoke up in a condescending tone. “Well, sir, we have a chart that says Jupiter is bigger.” The astronomer looked at her. He looked at my teacher. Then he looked at me with an expression of sympathy.

“Little girl,” he said, returning his attention to Melissa, “if you look at the picture again, you’ll see that the sun is being shown at a fraction of its actual size. Otherwise, it wouldn’t fit on the page.” His gaze moved to his next victim, who had slumped down in her chair so as to be almost as small as her students. “Your teacher should have told you that.”

Upon returning to our classroom, all the students crowded around our reference book. Sure enough, a tiny block of text explained that the sun had been scaled down in the illustration. I declared my triumph, having finally been vindicated. Nobody apologized, my teacher found new reasons to punish me, and I was treated with no small amount of scorn, but I didn’t care. From that day forward, I knew to never be afraid of asking questions, nor of standing up for facts in favor of fiction.

From that day forward – at least until it was taken away – I proudly wore my homemade dunce cap with a smug grin.

This was a teacher. Someone who should have known this bit of close-to-home science knowledge as surely as she knew 2 gozinta 4 two times. But somehow she was ignorant of this fact and clung to it tenaciously, at the expense of humiliating a dissenting student and indoctrinating an entire class with a blatant falsehood.

 

 

 

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2 responses to “You don’t need people’s opinions on fact.

  1. Pfft. They’re anti-business. Like that Pope guy.

    I think I was put in an experimental branch of grade school because the teachers didn’t want to deal with me correcting them and generally being smarter. The other kids weren’t necessarily smart, though several weren’t idiots either. It seemed to be a place to put the troublesome misfits.

  2. Teachers need to know how to verify their facts. And they need to know that they do not know everything but in fact do not know as much as their students about some things. Every student knows more than every teacher about something, and it helps both teacher and student when the teacher admits that a student knows more than s/he does in some area. I could go on for hours about this and about how teachers need to relate to every single student and never belittle anybody and . . . but I have other fish to fry. ::sigh::

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