Thursday, December 14, 2006 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Ecoactivists vs female athlete of the century

Nancy Greene Raine is an alpine skier and an Olympic winner who has been voted to be Canada's female ahtlete of the 20th century. After she retired, she's been working to improve several ski resorts. This week, she will open a new Pontiac GMC Cup season. She is also the current chancellor of Thompson River University in British Columbia.

On the radio, she had the following to say about the global warming:

  • In science, there's almost never black and white. We don't know what next week's weather is going to be. To say in 50 or 100 years, the temperature is going to do this, is a bit of a stretch for me.
It is not only reasonable but it is also wise and probably true. Her statement can be supported by quantitative arguments rooted in physics or statistics. Indeed, the question whether the short-term uncertainties about the weather can be averaged out so that the long-term predictions can be trusted is a very difficult one.

Because no successful and non-trivial enough predictions of the long-term weather patterns have been made so far, it is very reasonable to think that we are not capable to do so at this moment. Also, Ms Greene Raine realizes that things simply can't be as black and white as some people would like to paint them.

But you can guess what such an innocent statement means in the present world: "furor on campus" as Kamloops Daily News, the local daily, called it. "Professors" - even though your humble correspondent would use somewhat less flattering words - immediately demanded Ms. Greene Raine's ouster from the ceremonial post.

Galileo Galilei's legal troubles resulted from his bold statements about the role of the Earth in the Universe, among other things. Larry Summers' troubles resulted from his guess that there could be cognitive differences between men and women. Ms Greene Raine's problems emerged after she said that things are not black and white and we should be more careful in making multi-decadal predictions if we can't do multi-week predictions.

Wall Street Journal thinks that her views are analogous to the views of Freeman Dyson and many others. But the message for Ms Greene Raine is clear: register the support for "good" environmentalists against "bad" skeptics, close your mouth, and submit to whatever prescription the Al Gores of the world prescribe for our salvation.

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