Never reason with a fool

Phew – the teaching phase of Climate Change Adaptation is over. Meanwhile, issues associated with climate change are exploding all over the media. I have barely had a chance to follow the news in the past couple of weeks and I’m in the process of catching up, so my thoughts are a bit scrambled…

Let’s start with the Australian Liberal Party. The right and the far right within the party are viciously fighting over whether anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is happening. I saw Turnbull on the 7:30 report this week stating that he “respects the views” of Liberal party members who “do not accept the science”. That’s a fairly stock claim from a politician, but is not a stance I could agree with, if taken in a literal sense. I view the acceptance of scientific information as something that can’t be picked and chosen on a whim. Someone who is appraised of scientific information and chooses to reject it without a strong reason is essentially valuing their own opinion on a topic over the consensus of experts and more importantly the power of human reason. If the same individual accepts other scientific information derived from the same principles of observation, data collection and interpretation, they are even more hypocritical.

One of the lecturers in the CCA course, Phillip Woods, made a point that he considers people to be essentially emotional with the capability of rational thought, which is a straightforward explanation for a lot of human behaviour! It’s not exactly a groundbreaking thought, but is worth keeping in mind when I listen to certain politicians so I don’t burst an artery.

A pet peeve of mine in the Australian media is the phrase “going it alone”, as though Australia is forging ahead of the world in taking action on climate change. Our current proposed target of 5-25% reduction based on 2000 levels is actually the lowest of any ‘Annex 1’ (developed) country, and if we shoot for -5%, we are actually aiming for an increase of 13% on 1990 levels! We’ve increased our emissions the most of any developed country since 1990, have the highest current per-capita emissions, and the most work to do if we plan to reach any global emissions-per-capita target in the future. Going it alone? We’ve been going it alone, among developed countries, for the last 20 years in increasing our emissions.

Categories: environmentalism, Science | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Never reason with a fool

  1. Jess

    If an idea is irrational and not at all based in physical reality, then no matter how insane it is or what awful real-life implications in physical reality it has, you have to ‘respect’ it…

    • davidpj

      That’s a fair point. I suppose “respecting” views is a hard one to pin down – is there an opposite? Disrespecting views? I suppose disagree is a more useful stance to take.

      Or, more accurately, I don’t respect the intellectual stance which enables one to pick and choose when to accept evidence when making important decisions on behalf of constituents.

  2. Chris

    Here here! …or is it hear hear! Either way, scientific evidence is not something that you ignore… except at your peril. Too bad Turnbull will never read the web page eh?


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