The latest gambit in the National Post‘s campaign against science education in Canada (specifically, against an informed understanding of climate change in Canada) is the printing of a piece by noted denialist David Legates, a bizarre attack on David Suzuki which not only claims that human-caused climate change is a myth but that our greatest threat at the moment is global cooling.
I could spend some time carefully picking apart what passes for Legates’s argument, which would put me in a strange position indeed — a blogger without advanced training in the field taking a tenured science professor to task. But time is short and I am rapidly losing my patience with self-absorbed morons. So I’ll just cut to the chase and tell you what Legates really thinks about climate:
We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception.
Sorry, Dr. Legates, but that’s an appalling statement for an educated man to sign on to. The notion that we don’t need to worry about the consequences of our own actions because God anticipated our mistakes and built the Earth in such a way as to prevent us from having to be responsible for our actions not only is brain-dead stupid, but doesn’t even jive with the Christian theology which this petition claims to represent.
The image on the top left of this post is the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. With a couple exceptions, every speck of light is a galaxy, containing billions to hundreds of billions of Sun-like stars. In our own system, Earth-like planets range from Venus, baked to a crisp by carbon dioxide’s greenhouse effect, and Mars, chilled into an inhospitable freezer by (among other things) its lack of sufficient atmosphere. Not 20,000 years ago, due to what Legates pooh-poohs as unimportant “miniscule” alterations, the climate was harsh enough to render modern agriculture and civilization impossible. Not 200 million years ago, there was no such thing as the Americas, or a glacier covering Antarctica. Two billion years ago there wasn’t even a breathable oxygen atmosphere. We, both as a civilization and more broadly as a species, are optimized for a specific short-term climate pattern and the possibility of upsetting that pattern deserves immediate preventative action whether or not the science is settled (even though it is, outside of certain kooks and naysayers).
The idea that the Earth is special, let alone that it benefits from some sort of divine insurance plan to “display [God's] glory,” is exactly the least helpful contribution to political debate imaginable.Tweet