At the post office today, I overheard a customer say something about Al Gore to the postal guy behind the counter. “What an idiot!” was the postal guy’s response – followed by the usual yuks about inventing the internet and inspiring the book and movie Love Story (except that last one is, in fact, true). Then followed a crack about how obviously global warming wasn’t real – after all, didn’t we just get hit with half a foot of snow in April?
I said nothing – but mostly because I have to deal with this post office, and likely this postal worker – a couple-few times a week. Apparently, the fact that all but a trivial handful of scientists in the field acknowledge without doubting that global warming is well and truly underway, and nearly as many concur that humans have a lot to do with it, is insufficient to persuade, you know, a guy who works at a post office.
And then I found myself wondering just why he had such antipathy to the idea. I suppose a lot of it was just the usual macho yahoo disdain for “liberals” – but it’s curious, the level of resistance to the idea. Elsewhere, for example, some people level the curious charge that the scientific consensus arises primarily because, hey, there’s lots of grant money for any scientist who supports the idea.
I’m sure there is…but in the US at least, given this administration’s views, given its willingness to bend everything to the will of its ideology, and given the obvious preference of business for an anti- global-warming agenda, you’d think that in fact there’d be much more funding available for scientists arguing against global warming.
The larger problem, though, is the corrosive cynicism that assumes that everyone, everywhere, will parrot whatever opinion is fed to them so long as it’s generously coated in dollars. The problem with this attitude is that, of course, it pretty much removes any hope that any expert’s opinion can be counted for anything: in fact, it undermines the very concept of the expert, of knowledge for its own sake, since what’s the point of all that studying and analysis if you just need the ability to sniff out where the money’s coming from?
Still more amusing, though: unless you’re deep in paranoia land, it’s pretty hard to believe that environmentalists and academics (and, of course, lib’ruls) have more cash and influence than Big Business and major politicians (of both parties). How’s that work again?