Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Uninformed opinions: as bad as global warming

Whitman students know all about global warming. Actually, everyone knows about global warming.

We know that Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for his global warming-related work, and that he made this really cool movie called “An Inconvenient Truth,” and that global warming is, like, really important…right? Duh.

But if you look on the Internet, there are actually people who are skeptical about this issue.
“What? Skeptical? How is that possible?” I hear you say. “How could they possibly not recognize this unquestionable truth that we work so hard to promote? They must be rednecks, or hopelessly ignorant. Sheesh. If they’d only take the time to inform themselves, like we do.”

Bad news, Whitman: these people are gaining some form of legitimacy. Kristen Byrnes, a 16-year-old global warming skeptic who runs the prominent Web site “Ponder the Maunder,” was recently featured in an NPR story.

The NPR story says that Kristen, who recognizes global warming but maintains that humans are not the cause, has accumulated “a mound of technical documents from the Internet” and that “Her Web site includes charts of temperature records, El Nino indexes, isotope measurements.”

This story made me think. After thinking, and consulting both Kristen’s information and other information on the Internet, I decided that you guys are right. I still think that global warming is most likely being caused by humans.

At the same time, I couldn’t help noticing a similarity between many of my peers at Whitman and Kristen’s friend, Chrissy, who was also interviewed for the NPR story. Chrissy disagreed with Kristen. “I don’t believe what you think,” she said. When asked why she believes this, she said bluntly, “I don’t know.”

To be fair, if you had a bright, detail-oriented teenager like Kristen debating against someone like her friend Chrissy on just about any issue, she’d win every time. And really, the only reason Kristen and her Web site got any attention in the first place is because she’s bright enough to make it halfway convincing.

Global warming is not really the issue here. The NPR story concluded, “It’s probably fair to say that most people: even those who have strong opinions about global warming: couldn’t make a strong scientific argument for why they believe what they believe.”

At Whitman, we’re in an extremely liberal environment where most people are politically like-minded. Because of this, we often don’t have to defend our opinions. When everyone agrees that global warming is humankind’s doing, and that it’s a huge problem that needs to be dealt with, we don’t think about why we believe those things, and in many cases, we forget.

In some ways, it’s really productive to have a group of politically like-minded people gathered together. That way, it’s possible to transcend basic arguments about the legitimacy of the discussion, and get on to the discussion itself.

But at the same time, we at Whitman can be careless, and we often adopt political beliefs without considering the issues thoroughly, simply because the position is established among our liberal peers.

What really bugs me is when students assume political beliefs superficially, more as a way of constructing a political self-image than anything else. This kind of belief is never going to be effective in any way.

So please, Whitman, let’s be a little more knowledgeable in our political opinions. Let’s gather sufficient information before we go as far as to formulate an opinion. And please, let’s be able to defend our opinions.

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  • C

    ConnorAug 25, 2008 at 1:24 am

  • C

    clausMay 1, 2008 at 3:13 am

    whats this all about?
    Do you realize that you spend all this time and alll these lines saying NOTHING?

    What”s wrong with you?

    why dont’t you write something interesting.

    cu claus