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Preserve Our Planet Superheros

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  • Mike Neuman
    It is important to recognize individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty in taking actions to preserve our planet from the perils of accelerating
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 2007
      It is important to recognize individuals who go above and beyond the
      call of duty in taking actions to preserve our planet from the perils
      of accelerating global warming. These are the true "superheros" of
      our generation, and we need more people to act as they did or as they
      continue to do.

      The reason to pay these superheros recognition is not just to honor
      their personal efforts and actions but also to put their efforts
      and actions on display for others to follow. Only when many, many
      other individuals are working toward the same objective - of
      preserving our planet from the perils of global warming - can we be
      assured that we will succeed in this effort.

      JEFFREY BENNETT - Preserve Our Planet (POP) Superhero

      Jeffrey Bennett holds a B.A. in Biophysics from the University of
      California at San Diego and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the
      University of Colorado at Boulder. He has taught extensively at all
      levels, including having founded and run a private science summer
      school for elementary and middle school children. At the college
      level, he has taught more than fifty classes in astronomy, physics,
      mathematics, and education. He is the author of leading college
      textbooks in four distinct subject areas: astronomy, mathematics,
      statistics, and astrobiology (life in the universe). Among his other
      major endeavors, he served two years as a Visiting Senior Scientist at
      NASA Headquarters.

      Followins is a part of Jeffery Bennett's "personal mission statement":

      "My professional activities are guided by a deep personal sense of
      mission, driven by my belief that our civilization is at a critical
      juncture in history. The crisis is manifested by symptoms like
      environmental degradation, explosive population growth, and losses of
      individual freedom. I maintain that the cause of these symptoms,
      however, can be traced to the fact that human understanding — and
      therefore human behavior — has not advanced in step with human
      knowledge. This discordance between knowledge and understanding is
      particularly acute in science and technology, and it has grown rapidly
      over the past century. The problem is familiar in a such areas as
      nuclear technology, where many of the scientists who developed the
      atomic bomb were unprepared for the political fallout that followed,
      and in the field of medicine where scientific advances routinely raise
      ethical questions. Nevertheless, I believe the problem goes far deeper
      than generally recognized, especially when we consider the gulf
      between the knowledge held by specialists and the broad understanding
      of the public. Indeed, I argue that most people are unaware of basic
      relationships between humanity and the natural world spawned by our
      advances in science and technology. The result, I believe, is that
      most people — including most policy makers — are presently unprepared
      to confront the significant challenges facing our survival."

      Jeffery Bennett doesn't pay much attention to follies of debating with
      the global warming "skeptics" community. But he does deals with the
      "debaters" in a postscript to his assessment of the global warming

      "... Since you will surely encounter them on the news, I suppose I
      should also address the small but vocal group of people who go around
      claiming that global warming is some kind of hoax. Like those who
      claim NASA never landed on the Moon or that the Grand Canyon proves
      Earth is only 6,000 years old, the best way to combat these folks is
      to understand the flaws in their claims. I can't go into all of the
      arguments here, but to start with you should realize that most of
      their "facts" are at best distortions and at worst outright lies.
      Here's a few examples:

      * Many in the "it's a hoax" camp are now claiming that back in the
      1970's the scientific consensus was that we were headed for global
      cooling and an ice age - a "fact" they use to support their claim that
      you shouldn't believe the scientific consensus today. However, this
      "fact" simply isn't true. Perhaps the people stating this untrue
      "fact" are just confused, since by the '70s we had learned that we are
      currently in an "interglacial" period following the last ice age
      (suggesting that we might be "due" for another ice age) and data
      showed (and still do) a slight global cooling during the mid-20th
      century. But with a few exceptions, scientists already recognized this
      cooling as an aberration, unrelated to long-term ice age cycles, and
      that the real issue for the future would be global warming. I know
      this from my own experience, since my '70s science classes were
      already discussing global warming as the serious concern. If you want
      more proof, just look back at scientific publications from the 1970s.
      There are many examples, but here's one to start with: The summary of
      an article published in Science Magazine, 8 August 1975, p. 460,
      states: "...the exponential rise in the atmospheric carbon dioxide
      content will tend to become a significant factor and by early in the
      next century will have driven the mean planetary temperature beyond
      the limits experienced during the last 1000 years."

      * The "hoax" camp has made a mini-industry of claiming that the
      "hockey stick graph" - a graph of data showing that global
      temperatures are now higher than at any time in the past thousand
      years - has been discredited (a recent Wall Street Journal editorial
      said this directly). However, while the original methodology that led
      to this graph was indeed criticized by some scientists, its basic data
      and conclusions have since been validated. Indeed, based on a request
      from Congress, the National Research Council (NRC) investigated the
      "hockey stick" graph. The NRC report on the issue, published in 2006,
      came out in strong support of the methodologies used to look at past
      climate data and of the conclusion that temperatures now are certainly
      higher than at any time in the past 400 years and likely higher than
      anytime in the past 1,000 years. (You can read the NRC report summary
      or order the full report here.) Bottom line: Those who claim that the
      graph has been discredited are ignoring reality.

      * Some of the same folks are still recycling another old claim -
      that satellite data about atmospheric temperatures contradict data
      showing that Earth is warming; again, there was once some controversy
      over these data, but the apparent discrepancy has now been resolved
      (in essence, the discrepancy was traced to errors in the data
      calibration, and once those were understood the discrepancy went
      away). For a summary of how both scientific sides came to agreement
      this issue, see Science Magazine, 12 May 2006, p. 825.

      * Another popular claim in the hoax camp is that the IPCC report
      is flawed because "science is not done by consensus." While it is true
      that science must be based on evidence rather than on votes, it is
      also still the case that science progresses only when the evidence
      becomes strong enough to lead to widespread acceptance in the
      scientific community. For example, Einstein's theories might have died
      a quick death if not for the fact that evidence in support of them
      soon convinced the vast majority of scientists. Indeed, when people
      ask me for a brief statement on the purpose of science, I like to say
      that science is a way of examining evidence so that people can come to
      agreement. The IPCC report is just that: a large group of scientists
      who examined the evidence and came to agreement.

      * Finally, for an extreme example of the lengths to which some
      people will go to dispute something that is really indisputable,
      here's a quote from Rush Limbaugh (complete transcript here.): "I'm
      not a scientist - in my common man way, I explained to this caller why
      I do not believe in global warming. I gave as my primary belief that I
      believe in God.... I'm saying as a believer of a loving God and a God
      of Creation, that there is a complexity to all this that makes it
      work; that we cannot understand; that we cannot really control; that
      we cannot destroy, and that we really can't alter in its massive
      complexity." So there you have it: If you believe that God has set
      things up so that it's impossible for us to do anything bad to our
      planet, then you have nothing at all to worry about. But if you
      believe that God gave us free choice and helps those who help
      themselves, then we'd better get to work."

      You can read what Jeffery Bennett professes to be true reqarding the
      magnitude and urgency of the global warming threat that confronts us
      all by reading the main text of his latest work:

      Super (Bowl) Misconceptions, Part 2: "Global Warming"
      March 7, 2007
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