Month 12, Day 24: I’m Glad I Don’t Understand Science, Because If I Understood It, I’d Be Less Likely To Be A Jackass

The New York Times runs a long and fascinating biographical piece on Charles Keeling, the guy who did the half-century’s worth of atmospheric CO2 measurements that provide us insight into our predicament. It isn’t always this easy to find a theme for a letter; I am grateful to the Gray Lady.

After I got this written I saw that it was 149 words. So I added the “oy.”

It is a tragic commentary on a forty-year decline in scientific literacy in America that the work of Charles Keeling is so egregiously misinterpreted by conservative legislators and a significant fraction of the general public. At a time when we need greater understanding of science and scientific method, we are instead offered the scriptural rationalization that since global warming is mentioned nowhere in the Bible, it cannot exist. At a time when we need unity of purpose in combating one of the most significant threats humanity has ever faced, we are instead offered the blustery hyperpartisanship of incoming committee chairmen who eagerly anticipate hindering the researchers who are our first line of defense. At a time when we need wisdom and farsightedness to recognize the implications of Dr. Keeling’s fifty meticulous years of work, we are instead offered folly, measured out in quarterly profit margins and two-year electoral cycles. Oy.

Warren Senders

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