As most of you guys know, I frequent a few CAGW skeptical blogs. Steve Goddard’s Real Science is one of my favorites. (Please note, he’s moving to a different address, the link here is for his new one.) So, last night I decided to pop over and see what was going on……… oh my. Apparently, Steve was mentioned in the Drudge report. I haven’t seen it. So, we met a lot of new people. Fanatical, for the most part. Steve had made a post calling Irene a “phony” hurricane. His point was that the wind speeds he was seeing didn’t meet the definition of a hurricane. Last I checked, it had over 700 comments. It seems many took great umbrage to Steve’s assertion that it didn’t meet the common standards.
Why does it matter so much to people? Well, of the people that it matter, there were two different types making comments there. One group, had a natural response. They were experiencing the storm. Humans always like to believe their cross is more burdensome than most others. I see the same response in Kansas. When a wind picks up and blows a barn down or worse, some people here take exception if the weather service calls it a straight-line wind as opposed to a tornado. Why does it matter? Because a tornado is known to be much more vicious than a wind. It’s just human nature to act in such a manner. But, there was another group of people there, too. That group was people engaged in another act of human nature. They wanted, perhaps needed, affirmation that their thoughts of looming catastrophe were warranted. And this is where most of the more vitriolic comments were coming from. Steve had attacked their belief system.
One of the most irrational arguments I saw was the constant mention of the death toll. The dead don’t care. It matters not a whit to the dead if it was a hurricane or a tropical storm. It doesn’t diminish their life nor death. Nor, does it abate or increase the grief the loved ones are feeling today. I pray they find the comfort they need.
We cannot banish dangers, but we can banish fears. We must not demean life by standing in awe of death. ~David Sarnoff
Folks, there it is in the quote above. This is the argument. This is the reason why I engage in the CAGW discussion. This is the idea that separates humanity. Some people believe we can and should eliminate risk from life. You can’t. And I don’t believe the pursuit of such an idea is helpful to society, in fact, I believe it is quite detrimental. Now, I’m not saying to act foolishly and not prepare for an eventual dangerous event, or not to use prudent caution when necessary, but this fear of a catastrophic event is paralyzing society and never materializes. At some point in the future, I’ll address the costs of our obsession with attempting to eliminate risk from life, in terms of money, societal and personal psychological harm. I find that Newton’s third law doesn’t simply apply to physics. To all things there is a cost. And when something is gained, something is lost.