Environmental concerns — all I know is what I read in the papers…

One of the initial reports I heard on the latest offshore oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (a giant oil platform explosion) was from a so-called expert who assured everyone all was fine and there was no sign of a major oil spill (and, oh, thank heavens it was a certified oil industry expert instead of some kooky environmentalist or left-wing , non-scientifically-educated reporter talking, needlessly worrying us all about an environmental calamity).

Well that was late last week, I guess.

Now I just read that as the result of this same oil rig explosion a thousand barrels of crude oil are spilling into the ocean each day. That’s got to be costly and it cannot be good for the marine environment.

(Eleven platform crew members were still unaccounted for and presumed dead.)

The good news, if there is any, is that it is believed that since the whole thing is far enough out to sea, crews have more time than they otherwise might to contain the spill.

We’ve had bad spills before and they have done terrible environmental damage, but the world goes on, and to some extent nature comes back, and I presume the attitude of many is that such is the cost of survival in modern society.

And then there are those who claim that those who are concerned about environmental degradation of the planet are just alarmists or people who are against progress and who would, in fact, like to take us all back to the Stone Age.

Well, I don’t consider myself in that category, but I am concerned about the environment, and I can say right here I would just as soon there be no offshore oil drilling and certainly no more started — but I am reasonably sure there will be, even if this newest incident has dealt a blow to the cause of drill baby drill. Just before the latest catastrophe President Obama had proposed consideration of limited new offshore drilling, no doubt for political purposes as much as his perceived need of offshore oil.

I’m not a scientist and even though I have a four-year college degree my education was fairly light on hard science. So really all I know is what I read in the papers, so to speak. I have to depend upon the interpretations, primarily written by journalists who get information from scientists, directly and indirectly.

And it only seems logical that when educated folks are studying the unknown, if they are truly being objective they are likely to come up with varying interpretations of the data they have collected and one researcher’s data might not match another’s.

But over time, if everyone stays objective, it seems only logical that some common patterns will be noticed.

At some point there has to be a general consensus among scientists. The generally accepted story has been that the majority of scientists worldwide believe in the phenomenon of global warming that seems to be caused or at least greatly exacerbated by the actions of man.

Now some scientists, we are told, do not follow that line. But I have assumed or at least suspected that many of them are in the employ of industry groups who always fight environmental regulations.

Within the last year or so I have been reading reports that in some cases that some scientists who promote the theory of global warming have been caught faking data or purposely misinterpreting it. One motivation might be that even though they actually believe in global warming, it is easier to get continued funding for study if you can spice up the dire predictions a little. Or global warming detractors would have you believe that it is all a hoax and dishonest researchers are just eating up research grants.

A seemingly straight-forward opinion (opinion, that’s important) piece by a scientist I read in the Wall Street Journal the other day flat out claimed that there is no solid scientific evidence of global warming.

So who do I believe? And do I try to get my own personal count on how many scientists think one thing and how many the other? And do I personally sift through all the data (you know I’m not going to do that and neither are you)? I would not likely be able to interpret the data and would not know how accurate it was or the veracity of those who collected it.

A lot of people have a prejudice in this matter. They see environmentalism as too costly and a threat to jobs and just a plain waste of time.

Personally I would like to have clean air to breathe and an all-around healthy environment and I would like to see the survival of the planet and mankind.

I don’t subscribe to the theory that the only way we can keep employed and feeding ourselves is to foul our nest. It just does not make sense to me.

But I have to depend upon the experts who look at the facts in an objective manner.

Cooking the books to get research dollars under the guise of objective study or simply writing the things the way industry wants it (no costly regulations) is not the kind of expert advice that seems worth anything to me.

(You have to know that the same industrialists who would buy phony research to lobby against environmental regulations would demand the most objective information they could get when making their own business decisions, such as where to drill for oil or dig for coal.)

The best the layperson can do is read as much as he or she can and stay objective and do whatever seems to be called for on a personal basis.

P.s.

“Global warming“, some have noted, should have been labeled “climate change”, as it is sometimes now, because that phraseology is easier to understand, because, as I understand it, global warming can cause warm weather in some places that have been cold and cold weather in some places that have been warm and rain in dry areas and drought in rainy areas.

P.s. P.s.

Come to think of it, I don’t have to entirely depend upon what I read in the papers — I have (we all have) seen or otherwise experienced pollution first hand, such as smog, dirty rivers and lakes and other filthy waterways, as well as garbage strewn all over.

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