We here at The Clam are have certain ideas we believe in: That public education needs to be valued and supported. That consenting adults should be allowed to get married regardless of gay or whatever. Women and men deserve equal rights, economic disparity threatens our democracy, that the expanded bottle bill was a good idea…we have a lot of beliefs and ideas and you know what? Our lives don’t directly depend on nearly any of them. These are things we believe, they are not facts.
Oh, don’t get us wrong. We’ll argue your ass about the bottle bill with the searing intensity similar to the heart of an active Tokamak reactor, but you know what? Nobody is dead. Crops didn’t fail. Cities were not wiped out. Political discussions revolve around differing philosophical viewpoints and should be about ideas that are in actual dispute. And we’ll be brutally honest when we point we don’t need economic or gender equality to survive. There have been thousands of years of empires before our time proving that simple fact, We just think it’s a vastly better way for humans to live. That’s the point we’ll argue, annoyingly, even. With swears and sci-fi references and made up terms like “Dumb-o-sphere” to indicate the vapid intellectual terrain from which many people make their arguments.
Climate Change, however is something completely different. It threatens our civilization.
Here is an important point- We’re not going to argue Climate Change because you know it’s true. We don’t care what you write in the comments or say over on Cape Ann Online or whatever. You are a person who can operate a computer and read a paragraph and presumably operate in the 21st century world and therefore know when 97% of modern scientists in a particular category independently observe something through different means and techniques, that something is incredibly likely to be correct. And that a large scale multi-decade successful conspiracy between liberal activists and climate scientists is absurdity on the order of “chemtrials” and “lizard people.”
Don’t bother arguing because this is not political, this is science. Arguing like a lawyer with a weak case (banging on the table, strutting around, finding conspiracies behind every shadow) isn’t how reality (which is what science studies) is proved. We live in the modern age, the device you are reading this on is a product of the same process. No one wanted quantum physics to be true, even Einstein, but in the end it’s settled science because every observation supports its findings and thus we have things like transistors and lasers (and, like climate science, there are still a ton of unknowns about the exact mechanisms and implications).
This is typically the part of the essay where we start harping on what idiots people are for still denying climate change. You know what? We’re going to try and not do that here (try). You know why? This topic has become way, way too important to have it descend into the political mud throwing that passes for debate in the United States today. And, again, don’t get us wrong. You wanna throw some mud sometime about something that does not involve Boston being flooded back to its 16th century footprint, it’s on. Whadda got, leash laws? Gun control? The massive hypocrisy of Ayn Rand? Sounds like fun, we’ll meet you on the Internet and we can have it out.
This is too big.
In 100 years the primary thing future people, our grandkids, are going to look back and measure individuals from the past on will be their standpoint on this issue. It’s not unlike the way we look at our history of slavery today. You can be Thomas Jefferson and write the Declaration of Independence, become the third President of the United States, broker the Louisiana Purchase and invent the dumbwaiter but if you still had slaves at a time when the rest of the civilized world had come to the realization that owning other human beings was wrong, that’s forever going to stick. Future generations who are going to have to dedicate massive resources to managing human-made climate-related problems are going to look back and say “where were people on this issue once it came to be known humans were causing the climate disruptions?” And they’re going to be able to search and find out. Everyone has a legacy now.
So here is The Clam’s proposal: Amnesty
Simple intellectual amnesty. For a defined period, let’s say one year, everyone should have the chance to reevaluate their position on climate change without worry of finger pointing or takedowns. Science is, after all, about having the willingness to change our minds when new facts are presented (see physics, quantum…Einstein, yadda yadda). If Ted Cruz, a guy with a bunch of ivy league college degrees, wants to change his position from the incredibly bizarre statement he made comparing people concerned about climate change to “Flat Earthers”- those who inherently reject the findings of observation to the point of maddening idiocy, fine. He can do that. He should do that, in fact, because Ted Cruz wants to be remembered 100 years from now as An Important Person. He would be bummed to know that future US history lessons, if they mention him at all, will note plainly the fantastically dumb shit he said about easily observed data that greatly concerned the security and well being of the country he sought to lead.
So Ted Cruz, you’re off the hook on this one if you turn it around. So is Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Jim Inhofe and even Donald Trump and Sarah Palin (though it should be noted Palin’s position is muddled).
This is a hard thing we realize. For these individuals to reach a core constituency of the Republican Party they have to essentially pretend science isn’t real, or that it’s at least debatable, which it’s not. Science is not debate. Science is data and counter findings and compiling observable, repeatable evidence to the point where the likelihood of that thing not being true anymore becomes vanishingly small. We’re pretty good at it here in the 21st century hence airplanes and the Internet; satellites and most of modern medicine. We wouldn’t stake the future of our own ideas on increasingly elderly people falling for the “there are two sides to every story” trick for the foreseeable future.
Fun link from Isaac Asimov on “didn’t we once think the Earth was flat and thus isn’t science is debatable since they get things wrong?” Key quote: “When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”
In the last presidential election the only two GOP candidates to even admit evolution is a factual thing were Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. Fine, whatever. Do whatever dance you have to do, we survived for thousands of years not knowing how evolution works and we’ll survive if we forget it. But it’s going to be a lot worse if we don’t start taking steps to manage climate change, both how to prevent it if possible and how to manage its effects. We’re going to clown your ass six ways till the Precambrian if you’ve ever implied Earth is only six thousand years old. But we’re ready to give a pass to anybody walking back statements about climate change in order to come in line with reality, no questions asked.
This offer won’t last long. There is a limited time to get on the correct side of this issue. And with every hyper-charged storm, record-breaking flood and temperature and precipitation season that shatters the last, holdouts on the wrong side- especially educated ones- are going to be recognized as self-deluders, idiots or massively cynical.
Spread the word, people. One year. Libs, when someone comes out of the closet as a climate realist don’t go on about “flip flops” just say, “good job.” Cons, you need to come up with your response to this reality out beyond the untenable “it does not exist.” A science adviser to George W. Bush once said, “I know how to get Republicans on the side of helping to figure out what to do about climate change. Convince them if they don’t, they or their kids are going to die poor. There is not a Republican alive who wants to die poor.”
When the coastal cities of the United States are flooded out, a lot of wealth is going to vanish with it and the only way to deal is going to be huge government infrastructure projects on the scale never seen before. You guys are going to hate that. So get cracking.