Our Environment is Doomed
Some environmentalist doomsday scenarios have already saved our lives — for example, the alarm sounded about the ozone layer. Environmental science is like any other branch of science; it is a human activity that finds consensus on powerfully-supported theories, and disagreement on weakly-supported ones. That some conservatives would take only the disagreements that later proved wrong, compile them into a list and provide this as “proof” that environmentalists are conducting “junk science” is highly disingenuous.
It’s hardly true that environmentalist doomsday scenarios have always been proven wrong. A major one they got right was the destruction of the ozone layer — without which the sun’s deadly ultraviolet rays would have killed most if not all life on the planet. Thanks to quick and top-level scientific research, the alarm was sounded and all the nations of the world agreed to ban the chemicals responsible. F. Sherwood Rowland, Paul Crutzen and Mario Molina deserve far more than their Nobel prizes.
However, science is a human activity, and mistakes are often made. This is why scientific consensus is so important. When the arguments of any given theory are so strong and compelling that they sway a majority of scientists, the chances for human error are greatly diminished. Not eliminated, mind you — just greatly diminished.
The following is a list of well-supported theories that enjoy broad scientific consensus:
* Man-made chemicals are destroying the ozone layer. (1)
* Man-made chemicals are causing global warming. (2)
* Most agriculture, fish and water resources have either reached their limit or are declining, despite a growing population. (3)
* Death and cancer rates are higher around toxic waste sites, the chemical industry and the nuclear industry. (4)
* The extinction rate is climbing. (5)
* The world’s rain forests are declining. (6)
* The world’s coral reefs are declining. (7)
* More insects and bacteria are becoming immune to the pesticides and vaccinations used against them. (8)
Still, it’s possible to find scientists who hold beliefs outside the consensus, including cranks on the margins who espouse bizarre and crazy theories. They might be right — but if so, then the evidence that they find so compelling should be compelling to other scientists as well, and eventually this initially odd theory will itself become mainstream science. More often than not, however, these strange theories languish on the margins, for want of compelling evidence.