The Martian

Have you seen The Martian yet?

I don’t want to spoil it for you but it’s about how smart people are sexy and how NASA can do amazing things with math like land people on Mars and get them off again.

Wait, it’s just a movie. They can’t do that stuff, yet.

Well,they can land a robot on Mars. We know because, you know, they did that.

Everybody loves that NASA and that amazing stuff they do. “Yay NASA! Someday I hope my kid will be an astronaut and yadda yadda…”

So why is it that when NASA says that the earth’s average temperature is increasing because we have been burning so much fossil fuel and this is causing major changes in the climate, some of us, including my own government, seem to think there is some wiggle room there.

“The science isn’t in yet.”

Someone on a political Facebook group I’m a part of wrote, “if the evidence were overwhelming I would accept it.” Of course, I took that as a challenge.

Before I share the conversation, please know that I’m not meaning to ridicule this point of view. This person is not stupid. This is the power of a firmly held belief. It takes more than facts and science to change someone’s heart, but where else can we start? Unfortunately, most of us vote from our hearts, or guts, but not from our heads.

Maybe telling a story of the retrofit of a 1923 house will help. Yeah, maybe.

The exchange went like this (I didn’t change a word, I promise, even though I think I could improve on my comments):

If the evidence were overwhelming I would accept it.

“If the evidence were overwhelming I would accept it” John Bobson [not a real name] August 13, 2015. No offence John, but I want to hold you to that because the evidence is overwhelming and we’re only missing the acceptance part.

Show me!

Showing you all the overwhelming evidence would be, well, overwhelming. But let’s start with, say, the UN. You could go to the Pope if you like or any climate scientist…how much do you want? Just don’t come back with a blog or an oil industry funded publication, okay?

How about the U.S. Environmental Protection agency? Quote: “Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. In 2013, CO2 accounted for about 82% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Carbon dioxide is naturally present in the atmosphere as part of the Earth’s carbon cycle (the natural circulation of carbon among the atmosphere, oceans, soil, plants, and animals). Human activities are altering the carbon cycle—both by adding more CO2 to the atmosphere and by influencing the ability of natural sinks, like forests, to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While CO2 emissions come from a variety of natural sources, human-related emissions are responsible for the increase that has occurred in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. [1]”

Meanwhile, here’s another for you and John. How about NASA, John? NASA’s Climate site is pretty overwhelming. Here is a page called “facts”. Please accept the science. It is not theory, it is consensus. I would like my government to quit wasting time and money managing its scientists and instead listen to them.


James Rowley the UN Pope and NASA are not any more unbiased than oil producers, who funds matters but the science matters more. Also I like Lawrence Solomon on climate change a famed “denier” but ardent ecologist.…/global-cooling_b_4413833…
And many others.

From time immemorial humans have sort ways to control the climate for our benefit this latest attempt is not different it more belief system than empirical. Yes of course human activity affects climate but are not the great driving force behind whatever changes are happening. Of course we should mitigate our activities to minimize deleterious affects, but not the the point of giving up the enormous advances we have made over the past few centuries. The climate had huge swings in the Middle Ages not caused by industrial activity most believe the sun was the cause why could that not be true now, we simply don’t know. I’m not a catastrophist. Actually I don’t believe when it comes to the crunch people will actually give up stuff for climate threats, and governments will be thwarted by common sense. But that’s me ever the optimist.

I. I got nothin…

Alright, so showing you the overwhelming evidence didn’t work (and I don’t believe you actually spent any time at the NASA Climate Change site, the Environmental Protection Agency site, or the UN Climate Change site). Will deconstructing Lawrence Solomon?
Global cooling? 14 of the 15 warmest years have occurred since 2000. And it’s 2015. What is remarkable is that thousands of scientists working with the UN Panel on Climate Change do not sway you but one “ardent ecologist” has you completely in his spell. You are not alone in this, unfortunately, which is why Wikipedia notes that there is no debate among scientists, but there is in the popular media. That just means that many people haven’t accepted the science, not that the science is wrong.
I expect my government to accept the science and get on with building a consensus on what to do about it.

No debate amongst scientists really James Rowley that is what they do. No debate no science my point.

At some point we accept that the earth is not flat.

Here’s some actual science. July 2015 was the hottest month globally ever recorded.

James Rowley I don’t dispute the facts, it’s the unsupported catastrophic forecasts based on theories that don’t come close to predicting what is happening that concern me since we may be barking up the wrong tree. Human contributions importance is unclear to say the least. The Greeks knew the earth is round so flat earth is not a good analogy. What about the universe was created in 6 days?

Where are you getting your information? Is this the passage you’re missing? “Most scientists agree that humans are contributing to observed climate change.[79][215] A meta study of academic papers concerning global warming, published between 1991 and 2011 and accessible from Web of Knowledge, found that among those whose abstracts expressed a position on the cause of global warming, 97.2% supported the consensus view that it is man made.[216] In an October 2011 paper published in the International Journal of Public Opinion Research, researchers from George Mason University analyzed the results of a survey of 489 American scientists working in academia, government, and industry. Of those surveyed, 97% agreed that that global temperatures have risen over the past century and 84% agreed that “human-induced greenhouse warming” is now occurring, only 5% disagreeing that human activity is a significant cause of global warming.[217][218] National science academies have called on world leaders for policies to cut global emissions. [219]” From Wikipedia on Climate Change.

The bit that killed me was that, according to this person, there is no difference in bias between the UN, the Pope, and NASA on the one hand and oil producers on the other. Which of these groups stands to lose billions of dollars if the true costs of climate change are figured into national budgets and their subsidies are reduced or ended? Now, which of these groups seeks out the opinions of thousands of independent climate scientists from all over the world before forming recommendations? Which of these groups hire individual researchers specifically to do studies that muddy the waters? We’ve already been through this with tabacco companies denying that cigarettes are bad for you.

I think there is a credibility gap there.

Currently, we have a Federal Government who doesn’t want to hear from all these researchers either. Aside from cutting funding to science that might find things they don’t want found and ending the National Roundtable on the Environment and The Economy and muzzling the government scientists they do still employ, Stephen Harper closed the Office of the National Science Adviser (ONSA) in 2008 after first moving it from the Privy Council Office to Industry Canada in 2006.

I know that the repetition of these criticisms may strike some supporters of Harper’s government as tiresome because they happened years ago, but the lack of reliable information available to our government is frightening. How can you govern like that?

To use another movie analogy, Canada is in that moment near the beginning of The Matrix.

If we take the Blue Pill and vote Stephen Harper in for another 4 years, we are committing ourselves to living in a warped version of reality where scientific data is questionable and decisions are based on Conservative Party ideology and polling, not facts.

If we take the Red Pill and elect ANY other party, even as a minority government, we can slowly begin reversing the damage and restore robust information gathering and sharing.

Let’s take the Red Pill because, although it may be bitter, it’s better to face the truth head on.

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James Rowley

James lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada with his amazing partner, Leanne Koehn, and their two amazing kids in their beautiful house. He studied Science and English Literature at the University of British Columbia where he met Leanne. He also studied acting for a while at Studio 58 in Vancouver. He works as a teacher of English and curriculum writer for new Canadians.

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