Recently, in a speech given to college students in Indonesia, John Kerry warned of the possible dangers of climate change. Kerry even compared this threat to such things as poverty and disease. However, John Kerry is simply wrong about climate change, at least in the way that he approaches the topic.
For one thing, Kerry’s claim that climate change is a fact is a bit misleading. While the earth’s climate probably does change over time, it is still difficult to determine how much of this change has to do with human activity. The science of climate change is not an exactly an easy thing to understand.
There almost seems to be an assumption that the earth’s climate was stable until humans started putting carbon dioxide into the air. Back in 2007, R. Timothy Patterson, a professor at Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Center, wrote an article suggesting that climate instability has pretty much always been a feature of earth. He also said that climate change is the most complex issue that science has faced. That actually seems like an extreme statement considering that science has tackled such topics as quantum mechanics.
Determining the actual effects of climate change can also be rather subjective. For example, there have obviously been droughts, storms, and other natural disasters on earth for a very long time. Maybe these things are increasing because of human activity, but proving that is rather difficult.
One of the biggest problems with Kerry’s speech was the terminology that he used at times. Calling people “shoddy scientists” or “extreme ideologues” does not exactly promote an honest discussion. Using terms such as this is likely meant to lower the credibility of dissenters in the public’s eye. It does nothing to actually move the conversation forward. Kerry is wrong to label people who disagree about climate change in this way. If the science of climate change is so certain, then one should not have to stoop labeling people.
Climate change was even compared by Kerry to a weapon of mass destruction. Again, this type of language does not promote an honest, balanced discussion. Rather Kerry’s words here promote fear. This is certainly not the way to get skeptics to believe one’s argument.
While climate change might be tough for the general public to understand, it is important to remember that most politicians are not any more scientists than the average person. The average person is not an expert in climatology, but neither are politicians. Yet politicians must make decisions that could potentially effect millions.
Kerry mentioned that the world must cooperate in order to face the climate change problem. Cooperation is great when it is natural and voluntary. When government gets involved with things, cooperation all too often gives way to coercion. That is not to say that there are not environmental problems that need to be addressed. However, this must be done in an intelligent and rational way. The first step is to educate people without using fear.
Humanity may or may not be responsible for changes in weather and the global climate as a whole. However, Kerry went about addressing the issue of climate change in the wrong way. An open and frank discussion would be the proper way to go.
Editorial By Zach Kirkman