The Eclipse And Climate Change: If You Believe In One, Why Not Believe In The Other?

EXTRA: My letter to the Duke Chronicle


Leonard Zwelling

The occurrence of a solar eclipse is magical. But what is more magical is that it is not magical at all. It is entirely predictable and explicable, down to the last decimal point with regard to the location of the eclipse’s totality and the timing thereof. I find that truly amazing. We have advanced so far in our pursuit of understanding the universe that we can reliably predict the motion of celestial bodies and the effect of the bodies on the Earth. Wow!

So if the whole country is prepared to believe in the solar eclipse, including when and where it can be viewed, why won’t it believe in climate change? Beats me.

Argument one is that we can see the eclipse, we can’t see climate change. Oh really? I do believe the flooding of the site of the former World Trade Center was predicted as was the shrinking of the polar ice caps, the rising of the seas, and the many aberrancies to expected weather conditions.

Argument two, these changes are all regressions to the mean and thus just normal variants. I don’t think so. The changes have been too dramatic over too short a time for this to be normal variance.

But my biggest argument to respond responsibly to climate change is the relative risks vs. benefits.

If, as President Trump suggests, climate change is a hoax, trying to delay it through the decreased dependence on fossil fuel and the use of alternative sources of energy can’t hurt. There is no risk to being too climactically conservative. Such maneuvers can only help the US compete in the global market place by easing all dependence on foreign fuel. But if the President is wrong (something that is no longer unexpected), doing all the things Al Gore asks us to do only makes sense.

If you believe in science, believe in all of it. You cannot select the science you like and ignore that which gives you an inconvenient truth.

I think climate change is real and Vice President Gore is right to ask us to address its reality with action from recycling to the use of electronic cars.

Changing the subject a bit:

As the calls to remove Confederate statues from prominent positions traverse the liberal blogosphere, a figure of Robert E. Lee near the entrance to the Duke Chapel was defaced last week. The new president of Duke has permanently removed the statue. This seemed foolish to me. The Confederacy and slavery are both awful chapters in our history, but they are part of our history and expunging reminders of that history does not change it. Getting rid of reminders of bad deeds only makes them more likely to recur. Thus I wrote this letter to the Duke Chronicle, the daily publication of the university. It was published on August 20.

The new President of Duke University sent out an email notifying the greater Duke community of his decision to remove the vandalized statue of Robert E. Lee from the Duke Chapel. He will also be establishing boards and committees to look into the best way to deal with the statuary at Duke and other vestiges of Duke’s history which may not seem as politically correct as they did when they were erected.
This seems like revisionism to me.

There are many parts of American history of which we may not be proud. Slavery is the most obvious. Removing a statue does not make that history more tolerable.
In 2015, I wrote an opinion piece to the Duke Chronicle when the leadership of the university was going to allow the Muslim call to prayer to come from the Chapel. This was wrong then and removing the statue of Robert E. Lee is wrong now, just as was its vandalization. Two wrongs still don’t make a right.
Forming committees and having university-wide discussions about the proper way to recall history is a good idea. But revising what others have done before us in an effort to correct a wrong is
There have been a series of truly questionable decisions coming from the office of the President of Duke University with regard to the lacrosse incident, examples or research misconduct, and the aforementioned proposal to have the Muslim call to prayer come from a uniquely Christian symbol on Duke’s campus.
Have all the committees you want and encourage discussion, but don’t start rearranging the statues on campus because some vandal couldn’t control himself.
Leonard Zwelling is Trinity ’69 and M.D. ’73.

Leonard Zwelling