Scientists have never been among the larger global-warming denier demographics. Most of us have received years of training, not only in our fields of study, but also in scientific methods which exclude political considerations and financial motivations. I’m speaking of the processes of hypotheses, experimentation, and results, not of the business side, which of course is attendant in almost every endeavor in any capitalist society.
So, at the risk of sounding arrogant, people of the sciences are less likely than laypersons, generally, to subscribe to unfounded conclusions about the natural world. That is why the larger scientific community rates in the high nineties regarding the percentage of its membership which believes global warming due to human behavior is real – and that it’s happening right now.
For me, when it comes to the positions I take on our changing world, my fields of expertise are deeply informed by the everyday fields of grass upon which farm animals graze. Allow me to explain.
I am an emergency room physician with degrees in bionuclear physics and membrane physiology. Also, I was born and raised on a large dairy farm in Wisconsin, where I woke up every day at dawn to milk cows until I was 15 years old. All of these experiences; all of this knowledge with which I’ve been blessed; it all informs my views on life, matter, and how everything – absolutely everything – is interconnected.
Sure, there are men and women – thousands of them in America – who, for example, fire up their one-ton trucks and drive them on the highways at 75 mph, empty of cargo or passengers. “What’s wrong with that, it’s a free country, isn’t it?” some might argue. One of the freest, I would say. Many among these drivers would require a lengthy treatise as to how their “hobby,” let’s call it, can possibly affect atmospheric temperatures across the globe, and thereby cause gargantuan – even existential – problems of deadly droughts, super storms, and sea-level rise.
Again, at the risk of sounding haughty, people of science usually don’t require such explanations. Through our educations and experiences, we know. That doesn’t make us any better than other folks; it’s a different perspective, and different perspectives are important in lively societies.
However, one cannot responsibly use “different perspectives” or “differences of opinion” as excuses to continue destroying our planet, upon which all known life depends. So, back to the truck example. This hobby or custom requires the combustion of massive quantities of fossil fuels relative to the work produced (moving an unnecessarily heavy and inefficient vessel down pavement at illegal speeds). The combined carbon emissions of this “sport” are some of the highest among recreational activities.
The cows I would milk as a child in Wisconsin produce methane gas, which we know harms the ozone layer. They are a factor, too. They also produce great quantities of nutritious food, though. So, we must constantly assess what we want to continue doing and its overall value. We must prioritize, if we would give ourselves any chance to avoid collapsing the entirety of the natural world upon ourselves.
My upcoming novel, ULTIMATE ERROR, is about the catastrophic mistakes humankind has made against the planet and the ones that may yet bring ULTIMATE calamity.