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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Guest Blog: Pearce, Barela Treat Science Like a Political Opponent

AlgernonPhoto This is a guest blog by Algernon D'Ammassa, who lives in Luna County, in Deming, New Mexico, and belongs to no political party. He blogs regularly at http://algerblog.blogspot.com.

Can Luna County afford leaders who treat science as if it were a political opponent?

Steve Pearce, running for his old seat in our district, is on the record dismissing global warming as "crap" and claiming that it "cannot be validated." He made these statements on a campaign stop in Artesia to the multimedia news source Politico.

"Only God knows where our climate is going," said first district candidate Jon Barela during a recent radio interview. While it is probably true we cannot know more than God, there are some things we do know; and what we know must be taken seriously.

The looming challenges that climate change presents to New Mexico's agriculture, a billion-dollar industry, include rising water prices and decreased supply, carbon dioxide fertilization that galvanizes weeds and invasive species, reduced crop yields across the southwest, less forage for cattle - and much more. Extreme storms in the American southwest have doubled, and rapid warming trends have affected snowpack melt in measurable ways, as well as the tropical storms which provide New Mexico with much of its yearly precipitation. In the last decade, intensified droughts in New Mexico saw an explosion of bark beetles that have cleared trees by tens of thousands of acres. If we ignore the trends measured by climatologists, all of this will just be a prelude.

Across the hemisphere, the effects of warming and greenhouse gas concentration are affecting ocean flow and sea levels as ancient glaciers melt so quickly we can watch them change color and shrink.

To be fair, there are aspects of this research that are inconclusive and subject to debate. Sometimes there are errors. Errors, in fact, are an important part of the scientific method, as theories and equations are tested and new data are incorporated into the body of research. This does not impeach the basis of science itself.

Pearce continues to make hay out of some unprofessional conduct by a handful of scientists at a single research facility, suggesting this somehow debunks the entire body of climate science and its implications. Some politicians go as far as to claim that global warming is a left-wing conspiracy to destroy the American economy. These theories apparently require no "validation" or evidence. They are also good for harvesting large campaign donations.

Drastic Consequences
While we bicker and dither, catastrophic reactions are already in motion. If developed nations take no action, or waste time denying reality, there will be drastic consequences over the next century. Indeed, our response is already late.

Here in Luna County, we can count on our farmers and ranchers to respond to conditions and adapt as best they can, bringing together their experience and resources. We can all help them, and ourselves, by sending lawmakers to Washington who are not at war with science.

We Deserve Reasoned Debate, Innovative Ideas
We are citizens of the United States. We are the farmers and ranchers of the American west. We are the workers in the cities. We are the parents and children who wonder what will become of our land, streams, and air in the years to come. We are people, not corporations. We deserve a reasoned political debate about the facts that will change our way of life. We deserve competition among well-informed policy makers for the best solutions to rising energy prices, pollution, waste products, and the overlapping effects of climate change.

From the private sector, we deserve innovative ideas from our brightest entrepreneurs and well-capitalized corporations. Many of these resources are being spent to confuse the public and impugn science instead. Inevitably, the implications of global warming will affect business as well. We all deserve better than this.

Demand An Intelligent Conversation
We are speaking of the material conditions that will define our future. Can we stop pretending to be "conservatives" and "liberals" when it comes to our survival? Twisting climate science into a partisan dogfight, when the implications are truly universal, is short-sighted and selfish, even stupid. We do not need to know more than God. We have been granted the sense to look ahead and take reasonable precautions. Accepting reality and helping our community prepare will not happen until people demand an intelligent conversation repeatedly and consistently, backing it up with our votes and our spending habits.

This is a guest blog by Algernon D'Ammassa. It was originally published in the Deming Headlight.

If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.

October 12, 2010 at 09:52 AM in Climate, Environment, Guest Blogger, Jon Barela, NM-01 Congressional Race 2010, NM-02 Congressional Race 2010, Science, Steve Pearce | Permalink

Comments

It isn't about the science. Oil companies that perceive a vested interest in keeping the public from becoming more in favor of prudent policy alternatives and think it is all about their profits are spending huge amounts of money to muddy the waters of debate. Why? mainly because the propaganda machine has turned the project to drive people nuts over this into a Right Wing cause. They didn't have to. But it works, so why not?

Meanwhile there are few downsides to putting an emphasis on encouraging investment in a new "Green Economy," along with revamping our electric power distribution grid and becoming more frank and honest about the truth of water conservation needs.

Why be opposed to sensible and prudent policies? Because God is on the side of unrestrained profit through earth resource exploitation and rampant uncontrolled growth.

Or maybe it is about using God to control people through fear.

Maybe there hasn't actually been any evolution. I can't imagine the ancients being this stupid.

Posted by: Stuart Heady | Oct 12, 2010 4:01:02 PM

Pearce, Barela and the others who deny climate science may not believe what they say but they are good at convincing other people they're right on this. Helps when Fox and the right wing echo chamber keep repeating it.

Posted by: Old Dem | Oct 12, 2010 4:45:57 PM

This is so upsetting. The convinced multitudes are like religious zealots delighted by the news that climate change is just a big left wing conspiracy.

Posted by: Anita Walsh | Oct 13, 2010 12:36:24 AM