The dangers of rigid ideologies

I came across “Has Progressivism Ruined Environmental Science?” in the online publication American Thinker, which—from the advertising that populates it and the comments posted—seems to veer “right.” But as I am not a regular reader, I do not know this to be the case.

Still, the commentary by Anthony J. Sadar is a critique of the industry known as environmental protection. His concern is that the field has become too “progressive” and, as such, is not challenged from within by alternate views. This, he says, is dangerous for seeking truth.

He’s correct. But he’s not entirely on the money.

First, as an environmental regulator myself, I do appreciate one point he is making:
In my thirty years of work in the science arena, as a government scientist, an industry consultant, and an academician, I have witnessed an increasingly adverse influence of progressivism on the practice of science. This influence has been especially visible in my specialty, environmental science (with a focus on air-pollution meteorology).
Amen, brother. From my own experiences, I know that the ecological vocation tends to attract left-leaning ideologues and that they champion other causes common to the left. So be it. Perhaps this is akin to how, say, the armed forces tend to attract right-leaning ideologues.

In my own eco-industry world, some of my dear friends seem frustrated that because of my ecological credentials I am not also pro-abortion, or pro-same-sex marriage, or that I do not favor big government (even if I work for one). So, yes, I believe that Mr. Sadar is correct in his point about the general worldview of ecology.

But then he expresses concerns with the matter of climate change and I wish he hadn’t tethered his argument so much to the past sins of a few researchers. After all, as I’ve written about earlier, sin is one thing we all have in common, and climate researchers are sinners, too.

Then again, I do not understand the political right’s obsession with disproving the general acceptance of climate research—that is, how well-defined trends in various data sets are aligned with climate-change modeling and hypotheses. It's as if some on the right reject climate change science only because so many on the left laud it.

But also, in agreement with Sadar, I do not understand why so many on the political left can be so uncritically accepting of what they’re told about how anthropomorphic climate change is occurring, and what effects it will have. In fact, sometimes it seems that they wish harm on the human race. And allow me to confess this: occasionally I sit in meetings to discuss climate change and sea level rise and wonder, what if we’re wrong—even just a little? I suppose I should speak up, but then I can’t help but think, what would people think? Would they dismiss me? Would they discredit me? Would I be invited back? It's not that I reject that we are witnessing anthropomorphic climate change—far from it. But sometimes it would be nice to talk about it openly. And I don't think that we are allowed to—which is exactly Sadar’s point.

But either way, right or left, I am impatient when any scientist (or anyone of any vocation) must fit their worlds into neat packages of human political ideology. That limits one’s horizons, which makes no sense.

Then again, I am Catholic, and I do not describe myself as left or right, liberal or conservative, or what have you. I suppose if anything, I am Augustinian. That is, I'm a-political because no political party or ideology has the fullness of truth to offer.

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.