Year 2, Month 1, Day 23: The P.O.E. Principle

Based on his other writing, I’m going to assume that William Collins’ piece on climate change (which I found in the Youngstown News (OH), but which was originally published at OtherWords) is in fact written from a scientifically informed position. But the second half reads like…well, go check it out yourself.

Anyway, my letter:

William Collins’ analysis of the climate change issue is a remarkable feat. In the first half of his piece, he explicitly states that the warming atmosphere is a “truly alarming” problem, but his conclusion reads like a skillful parody of conservative thinking. Even assuming that Collins’ final paragraphs don’t represent his core beliefs, they deserve a careful response — because a statement like “we’re not about to inconvenience ourselves over some half-baked fad that says we’re damaging the world’s atmosphere” is representative of much current conventional opinion on the subject. The failure of our media to convey the magnitude of the climate crisis is perhaps the single most damaging consequence of the false-equivalence stenography that we’ve come to call “journalism,” just as the inability of our political system to address the very real possibility of a climate-triggered civilizational collapse is arguably the nadir of the American democratic experiment. Mr. Collins says, snarkily, “In 50 years, we’ll know what we should have done today.” Given that scientists (and politicians) have known about the greenhouse effect and its consequences for Arctic ice (to name just one affected area) since the early 1950s, that statement is a superb summary of a thoughtful position on climate change — from 1960. Our fifty years are already up. Over the next fifty, we’re going to discover that a world racked by water wars, droughts, wildfires and severe political instability (often in nuclear-armed nations) is not something Americans can ignore.

Warren Senders

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