Letter: We’re all in this together
This responds to Lynn Goldfarb’s letter to the editor critiquing my Jan. 4 column, “Fear, loathing and global warming.” First, I wish to thank Lynn for reading the column and for her interest in the subject, which she said was related to work in the field by her daughter and son-in-law.
As for her letter, it begins by dismissing the credibility of The Wall Street Journal, which published the piece I quoted in my column, and attacking the expertise of the author of that piece, who is a professor of theoretical physics at Caltech, holds a Ph.D. from MIT and is the former undersecretary for science for President Obama.
Let me suggest that such attacks on the messenger are not productive or persuasive. A better approach, and the one followed by scientists, is to identify particular issues on which there is agreement, identify other issues on which there is disagreement and seek through data and analysis to reach some understandings on the later. Some of the 55 comments to my column, which are posted on The Aspen Times website, do precisely that.
The closest Lynn’s letter comes to that is to declare that my column “was wrong in everything it had to say.” Really, Lynn? Do you think my column was wrong in stating that the earth was warmer when dinosaurs lived and that it was colder when mammoths lived? Do you think it was wrong in stating that scientists believe that the earth has warmed slightly in the past few hundred years and that humans are partly responsible for the warming? Those, after all, are positions of the global-warming advocates, not just me.
Lynn’s letter is surely well-intentioned, but I’m afraid it winds up an example of the tribalism that has come to dominate the discussion. Once a person is identified as part of the “wrong” tribe, he is immediately attacked personally and all of his positions are dismissed — even those positions that the attacker would enthusiastically endorse if expressed by someone in her own tribe.
When the attack goes to the credibility of The Wall Street Journal as a news source and the science expertise of a Caltech physics professor who was the president’s undersecretary for science, the attack becomes almost comical. In doing so, the attack becomes not just unpersuasive but counterpersuasive. So I repeat the admonition with which I ended my earlier column and which both sides should heed: Put aside the attacks. Let go of the positions that are dictated by your liberal or conservative tribe. Think for yourself. And don’t get too sanctimonious. We’re all in this together.
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