There's a thread on global warming on the Huey Lewis and the News fan board. Yes, you read that right. And I'd accidentally started it, when I posted a link I'd found to an anti-global warming advocacy page where Huey had weighed in in support of the fight against it.
There was a quote from him:
Global Warming is our most important environmental issue. Because it's gradual, it's easy to procrastinate. Don't.
OK, fine, sounds reasonable. And it's interesting to see Huey take a stand on public issues because it doesn't happen often. Although it has happened once before, and the exact same reaction happened this time. In the following post, out of the blue, someone wrote:
What does Huey know about global warming? He sings for a living.
I've discussed before how ridiculous it is to deny celebrities any ethos on matters of public importance simply because they are celebrities. All that still applies here. But something else stands out from this conversation: the inability for people to share in any sort of public consensus about the severity of the situation.
Admittedly, science is still probably on a steep learning curve. We are still gathering data and learning how to best model what it tells us. But plausible, reasonable, measurable, and repeatable research is strongly indicating that the climate variations the earth is coming to experience are not part of its natural cycles as much as they are man-induced.
And yet, as you can see from the discussion thread, many people resist that information, easily discounting it without concern for the severity of its consequence if true. I responded to this tendency with a meme that I suspect I will return to, because I think it's quite apropos this and other situations:
When I was about 8 years old some neighbors who worked for a Big Bank took me to the circus at Madison Square Garden and we got to sit in one of the skyboxes. It was really neat, because we got a great eye-level view of the high wire acts and all the Coca-Cola we could drink. The way the circus was lit, though, all I could see was the inside of the box and the circus itself. The rest of the crowd was completely shrouded in the dark, a long way down from where we were perched. I couldn't see them at all.
But it dawned on me that just because I couldn't see them didn't mean my empty coke cans wouldn't land on their heads if I dropped them.
The things we do have an effect, even if we can't perfectly see what that effect would be. Since things like gas-guzzling SUVs don't naturally occur driving themselves around in nature, we have to presume that our doing so leaves some sort of footprint. To ignore that possibility is otherwise as rational as hurling coke cans into a darkened arena and expecting no one to get hit.
And yet there are many people who would prefer to keep throwing their coke cans. Since you can't definitely prove to them that it's causing problems, they will act as though there is no problem at all.
It's a bit of a fluke that this conversation ended up on a Huey Lewis and the News fanboard, but I think it's a telling snapshot of what's going on in wider public discourse, and one that is concerning.