Politically and Scientifically Correct
By: Jim Virkler
Our unusual post title needs some explanation. The endless pronouncements of politicians of both parties are fraught with (what else?) political opinion. Many modern US and world residents long to be on the ‘correct’ side of politics. Their desire is to be recognized as ‘politically correct.’ Many modern US national and world residents also long to be ‘scientifically correct,’ owing to their profound respect for science. If people are both politically and scientifically correct in their beliefs, so much the better! Often there is inadequate definition of what we mean by ‘politically’ correct. In addition, many do not know exactly what is meant by ‘scientifically’ correct.
Political correctness has become more popular and recognized as a social reality in the past several decades. Initially actions or statements deemed offensive to minorities or other disadvantaged segments of society were avoided. In more recent times the tendency has expanded to endorse wider movements such as activism on social issues, including environmental activism. Action to remediate climate change has become one such movement.
Truth about our climate and how humans interact with it is, or should be, a topic of immense concern to Christians who believe God created our planet with wondrous complexity—thousands of interacting functional climate features working together for the benefit of all living creatures. This includes humanity, creatures He created “in His image.” The Creator’s mandate to subdue the Earth (Gen. 1:28) demands definition and careful analysis. Humanity should lovingly care for Earth as the venue for our physical existence. Sadly, human caretakers of Earth have not always wisely cared for its welfare. Inherent in this fact is the truth that human welfare has suffered.
The responsibility to care for our planet has become more challenging as global population has increased from one billion to 7.5 billion since 1800. At present the paramount environmental issue is undoubtedly climate change. The issue has become inexorably connected with the slight planetary warming related to society’s release of CO2 from the consumption of fossil fuels during the last century.
For some environmental activists CO2 has become the ‘naughty child’ in the family of compounds because it contains carbon. For this reason it has acquired a bad name among the elements in some environmental circles. Significant attention is devoted to ‘curbing carbon pollution.’ In the last two decades terms such as emissions assessments, carbon accounting, and ecological/carbon footprint have become popular. Players such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have become politically correct but in some cases scientifically uncertain or even incorrect. They gained support from a surprising 2007 US Supreme Court decision that permitted the EPA to declare CO2 a pollutant. No doubt the five judges who approved that decision believed they were scientifically correct. The next president rigorously imposed regulations on ‘carbon pollution.’ Many scientists have since refuted the opinion that CO2 is a pollutant.
Life on Earth is carbon-based life. It comprises nearly half of all biomass. The human body is over 18% carbon. It is the fourth most abundant element in the universe, behind hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. While recognizing that CO2 is a greenhouse gas contributing to slight warming of our atmosphere in recent times, we have been researching the effects of increased CO2 and the results of atmospheric warming resulting from it. In general, we decry the fear engendered by the idea that CO2 is a pollutant. Concepts such as ‘carbon footprints’ still dominate the journalistic landscape. The footprints are difficult to define, explain, and regulate.
We are thankful to our Creator for the element carbon. Ten million carbon compounds are known to man. Carbon, therefore, is known as the ‘King of the elements.’ Without CO2 in our atmosphere life on Earth would not exist. We advocate studying the wondrous role of carbon without a preconceived negative view of this element. We trust this post inspires readers to further investigate a fascinating issue which remains open and unsettled. Sound thinking is superior to political or scientific correctness.
Our readers may enjoy our previous post from 3/19/12. It does not speak about the political correctness of modern society’s responses to carbon. Instead, it addresses the science of carbon as a critically vital element for sustaining all living things. We link the post below:
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Jim Virkler, a retired New Jersey public school science educator, now devotes his time investigating the harmony of scientific discoveries and Christian faith. He and his wife, Eleanor, now reside in the mid-west near their children and grandchildren.