Modern Day Galilei

Do you remember the Galileo Affair? The whole story about if the Earth is the center or maybe just one more planet circling around the Sun?

If not, I can give you a more contemporary example of the same phenomenon. Global Warming skeptics react to science the way the Aristotelians and cleric people reacted to Galileo Galilei’s discoveries back then – with more than just disbelief. Nevertheless, we eventually learned that we really aren’t the center of the Universe, and we will also learn that the Earth is not there to take in whatever destructive measures we adopt in using up it resources.

Slowly but surely, climate change skeptics are changing their minds. Even the skeptical environmentalist himself Bjorn Lomborg eventually changed his mind. He turned from saying Climate Change is no problem to writing a book about how to solve it.

The Week introduces us to five more important figures who turned around and now accept Climate Change as a fact. On the political side we have Russian Dmitri Medvedev. He eventually realized that something is happening “because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past.”

We also find big turnarounds in the media world. Michael Shermer of the Skeptic Magazine had his flipping point in 2006 (you can read his statement here). He now advocates to turn from skepticism to activism. Gregg Easterbrook, a journalist from the US also wrote a statement called Case Closed: the Debate about Global Warming is Over after having been convinced that there is more to it than he initially thought. A similar case happened to Michael Hanlon, a science-journalist who needed to see the Arctic ice melting with his own eyes to understand what is happening. Like the others, he now clearly states that we must act to stop Climate Change.

Finally, the meteorologists and scientists. The Week lists Stu Ostro, who recently acknowledged: “When it comes to skepticism about AGW, you could say I have street cred,” but “it could be said that I ‘converted’ and became a ‘believer.'” Most recent and important side-changer: Richard A. Muller who just happened to find out that “Global warming is real. The professor from Berkeley should have actually proven the opposite, since his research was funded by the fossil fuel lobby. But he is enough of a scientist to accept evidence when he sees it. He concludes that there “were good reasons for doubt, until now.”

These newly converted climate change believers are now suddenly aware of the risk we are putting ourselves into. I hope they understand the important role they play to make sure people know that they believe the case is closed.

As far as I know, the human kind is today more or less anonimously accepting the heliocentric view once proclaimed by Galilei. How long will it take for human impact on climate to become common sense?

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3 thoughts on “Modern Day Galilei

  1. I don’t know if you’ve ever read The Picture of Dorian Gray, but after I did I decided that humans were inherently narcissistic. I think that for the idea of climate change to be common sense to us as humans, we’ll have to let go of that narcissism…in addition to a long, long list of other things…greed, corporate influence for instance….unfortunately I’m not sure if that will actually happen, or at least not happen in time for us to make a difference.

    Kind of a glass half empty kind of day…but thanks for the post!

    • Oh yeah, I like your literature-glasses, you’re definitely making a good point there. Still, I’m holding on to the glass half full kind of view… maybe narcissism can also be used in a positive way (since we sure will not get over it), maybe that’s what inspired Lomborg’s change of heart?

      • As long as people can flip 180 degrees like Lomborg did I definitely agree with you!

        Have a great weekend, Rahel! =)

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