Tuesday, September 9, 2014

If you believe in evolution, should you worry about climate change?

A somewhat interesting point from Jeff Van Fleet in an opinion piece posted in the Daily Interlake.com site,  "If you believe in evolution, then don’t worry about climate change".

If you don't want the long answer, the short one is "Yes, you should be worried, all of us should be worried!"  The rest of this is an expanded note to what I posted on their site.

His closing paragraph confused me quite a lot:

"Evolutionary theory demands both environmental changes and species extinction. The conservation movement is contradictory to both the theory of evolution and modern science. An evolutionist who supports conservation is like being an atheist who supports their local church. It isn’t logical and it does not make any sense."

Evolutionary theory doesn't demand anything.  As changes occur, they will be explained by evolutionary theory, not driven by the theory.  Do proponents of Atomic Theory want a nuclear blast in their neighborhood?  Wouldn't that be logical?

Proponents of evolution want people to understand the process but they do not push that the process be forced along some path.  Failing to support conservation means that preventable changes will more than likely occur.  But does than mean evolution proponents are unaffected bystanders or worse ones who wishes for environmental changes, potentially on a massive scale, just to help win a cultural debate?  Sure, let's see how many 'evolutionist' would vote for mass extinction of the human race?  That's what Jeff seems to be saying.  It's illogical if that's not what they want to see happen?  Ummm, no, it would be illogical for a member of the human race to wish for extinction.

Winning the current debate over evolution doesn't validate it as a scientific theory, it's already been validated time and time again.  It is a scientific theory and winning or losing the cultural debate won't change that.  What it will change is the ability of teachers to teach real science, of students to learn more of the reality of the world around them.  It may very well impact the funding of future research within the field, a field I remind you that has directly impacted food production, medicine, and the environment for a very long time.  These are things being impacted by the debate today, not the validity of the theory, but the teaching of it and the use of it.

As someone who understands climate change, as he claimed, I would expect him not to treat it as some sort of esoteric idea.  Look at the loss potential of the debate over climate change.  We could very well be driving the extinction of the human race.  It really wouldn't take all that much, especially if the carbon-dioxide level keeps rising.  Will humans evolve to handle the new levels, or will we go the same way as 99% of all species that have existed on Earth and go extinct?  If we keep debating, the issue may well become moot as we pass a point where any action on our part will not impact the outcome.  Science might explain the results, but it's not something any evolution proponent would wish to occur.  Of course on the Creationist-side, you could just pray for your particular deity to stop the rise in CO2 level, because prayer has been such a reliable tool in the past, right? 

Let's see, if I were a member of the last group of humans on Earth would I prefer they were Creationists who meekly accept what must be the will of a capricious deity for human extinction, or be scientists who will fight tooth and nail for every last breath?  I know which group I would prefer.  Jeff here seems to think evolution proponents would be the ones rolling over and being dead.  Somehow I think he's a bit off there.

Evolution proponents are also concerned about climate change because the same sort of pseudo-scientific arguments that have been used against biology are now being used against the climate and often by the same groups.  That's another reason to be concerned!  If these groups win the debate, not only will any future activity to change the outcome be more challenging, but what's next on their personal agenda?  In Texas they've been trying to re-write the history books and make it sound like Christianity was the goal in the formation of the USA.  Imagine what such groups would do with a carte blanc license!  Evolution and climate change would just be the start!  I think Jeff need to think through his science a little more.  It's sounding more like he's forming opinions based on Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, not science.

Someone once told me that in about 60,000,000 years the Earth will be a frozen ball of pretty much nothing important, and anything we do today won't make much of a difference in the long run.  Yea, there's a mantra to hang on your wall!   Sorry, words like that might be an interesting intellectual exercise, but pretty lousy ones to live by.  I prefer to be evolving as fast as I can!

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