Monday, September 19, 2011
Charity and an inconvenient spokesperson
Since An Inconvenient Truth, the former vice president has made a point out about making a point about climate change. And dramatically, too. Most recently, Gore’s The Climate Reality Project continues a slick packaging of everything you need to know about man-made climate change. Well, maybe not everything.
From some of the coverage it received, The Climate Reality Project has its fair share of detractors. See here, for instance, and here, here and here.
Thus problem number one: the skeptics that Gore and his followers would like to convert don't seem to be paying attention to him. These people are mostly (but certainly not all) on the political right. They disdain the left’s insistence that humanity is boiling the planet with an excessive population and its nasty capitalism. The inevitable clash of ideologies creates its own show, but a sad one. Truth—the kind that real science should be able to uncover—is the victim of this inconvenient battle.
The real dialogue that is needed on climate change—with the right tone, volume and charity—seems nowhere to be found. Certainly, behind the curtain of academia there is good scientific debate underway. At least one hopes. But most of us don’t have the credentials or the knowledge to get in on that dialogue. And so we rely on the media and others to intercede for us.
Thus, problem number two: there is growing distrust by and for both “sides” of the anthropomorphic climate change debate. This makes it difficult to find a go-between that one can or will trust to be unbiased.
Sure, time and true science will tell us all we need to know about climate change—about if it’s happening, how fast and by what cause. But by the time we know all that we need to know it will be too late. Either the current dire predictions by the majority of scientists are true or they are not. If the former, our climate will change dramatically over the next few decades, which will bring drastic problems for many millions. If the latter, humanity’s trust in science will evaporate, to the detriment of civilization.
Either way, it is important to remember that human reason by itself is insufficient to elevate humanity out of sin, gluttony, ignorance and distrust. Reason must be illuminated with the light of faith to become the true gift that God has bestowed on us, his rational creatures. If reason is to help us quantify and mitigate our climatological problems, it must be rooted in charity.
But as we fallen creatures should know all too well, the real problem is not in our climate, but in our selves.
And so what people like Al Gore need to remember is that it can be best to decrease so that the truth may increase. We must let love of truth and of neighbor win out over our insistence that we be the victors of a debate. Because if any of us becomes a cause for scandal or a stumbling block to the growth of our brothers and sisters, then we should step aside and let others take over the job of offering to a wary world the realities of unwanted truths.