Early environmentalists wore the badge of ‘skeptic’ as an honor.
Thomas Huxley, a colleague of Charles Darwin, wrote: The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, skepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.
In 2005 to be a skeptical environmentalist is to almost be a social outcast.
A former Environment Minister has described the problem to me as follows:
“While it may be true to say that we are all Greenies now, the great majority of Australians have little or no say in the environmental policies being put to governments, federal, state or local. These policies are now almost exclusively the domain of a network of conservation groups that are interlinked and interrelated. There is an extraordinary degree of unanimity among the green groups about the environmental problems and the solutions ensuring that one view, and one view only, is being received by the decision-makers.”
The problem is confounded by pressure on the science community to work in with the established green groups.
In a scathing review of science funding in Australia, James Cook University Professor Bob Carter has written:
“Current public debates in Australia on matters such as GM food, the health of the Great Barrier Reef, and the reality of climate change, are irredeemably in the hands of the spinmeisters.
“To capture government’s attention, and funding, requires the generation of a crisis in one of these politically sensitive areas. And for a government employee to speak out against a prevailing science or societal wisdom which generates research money for his employment agency is, rightly, perceived to be professional suicide.”
There remain a few passionate and skeptical environmentalists in Australia and even some on the internet.
Warwick Hughes‘ commentary always interests me mostly because it is accompanied by data – not his own but the governments.
Have a look: