Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Reality Based Earth

Many of you may have been seeing recently the frequent use of the phrase “reality-based community.” This comes from a recent NY Times interview with a top Bush aid who ridiculed those of us who base our political views on “reality” as being part of the antiquated “reality based community.”
'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out.”
Columnist Molly Ivins points out that the environment may not amenable to the Bush administration’s suggestions that serious, even catastrophic problems don’t exist

Of all the problems that arise from having an administration that chooses not to believe in reality, the ones most likely to have irretrievably disastrous consequences are environmental.

The Bush solution to global warming is to declare it does not exist. While this solves the problem for him in the short term, global warming is highly unlikely to be impressed by the news that we are now an empire and can change history.

Ivins goes on to detail the Bush administration’s denial of envrinmental reality, including their recent decision to allow more sewage waste into our water and a decision to allow the Department of Defense to exempt itself from environmental laws without any public debate or congressional review.

She concludes with real scientists, who, by the nature of their work, belong to the reality based community, continue to reveal real evidence showing that global warming really exists:
Yet another study – by 300 scientists with the International Arctic Science Committee – finds:
  • Average winter temperatures in the Arctic are up by 4 to 7 degrees over the past 50 years and now projected to rise by 7 to 14 degrees over the next 100 years.
  • Polar ice during the summer is projected to decline by 50 percent by the end of this century.
  • Warming over Greenland will lead to substantial melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, contributing to global sea level rise at an increasing rate. Greenland's ice sheets contain enough water to raise the sea level by about 23 feet.

Scientists, a reality-based bunch of empiricists if ever there was one, are in no doubt about global warming. The only question is about how fast it's happening. And many of the small minority who argue it is coming slowly are themselves in the pay of oil companies and industry groups.

As Upton Sinclair observed, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." And that is not conspiracy-mongering. That is reality.