Montana needs to put more effort into science education. Otherwise, we will continue to be plagued with such crack pot legislative proposals as were reported in the Feb. 19 Gazette (“Committee debate’s rep’s CO2 bill”). Claiming that “CO2 has gotten a bad rap,” the Honorable Joe Read, R-Ronan, not only flies in the face of scientific fact, but he also wants to make sure our schools propagate his ignorance.
The overwhelming scientific consensus is that human activities are changing the climate. Peer reviewed science, like any human endeavor, is not infallible, but it is the best method we have found for understanding the physical world. It has proven to be correct about some pretty esoteric things, like relativity and quantum mechanics.
Geophysics, by comparison, is relatively easy. CO2 is a known insulator (greenhouse gas). If you pump billions of tons of the stuff into a closed system (the atmosphere) and add energy (sunlight), that system is going to heat up. Ice core samples measuring historical CO2 levels correlate extremely well with levels of fossil fuel consumption and temperature trends. The “simple physics model” that supposedly debunks all this is not identified in the article. I’d be willing to wager that it has not been peer reviewed and found valid.
A politician may say that there is no political will to mitigate climate change and may be correct. To tell his or her constituents that there will be no consequences for such inaction, however, is political malpractice. Unfortunately, we cannot sue them for this. We can, however, vote them out of office at the first opportunity. Hopefully, someday, better educated voters will show politicians like Read the door.