A surprising new report announces that the well-established health standard that we should all drink at least eight glasses a day is a myth, with no data to support it. Moreover, the report says, drinking so much water may actually be harmful. Meanwhile, widespread acceptance of water and hydration as a health benefit has led directly to the explosion in the use of bottled water, wasting money and creating an environmental crisis with so many discarded plastic containers.
I would hope that such news, and we get these kind of sudden “never mind!” stories with fair regularity, might convince some of the more insulting critics of global warming skeptics to temper their contempt.
The ideologues and conspiracy theorists who refuse to accept that the world is warming—though nobody really knows how much or how long—and that the effect is likely caused by mankind—though nobody can say with certainty that mankind can reverse or stop it—are rightly derided, up to a point. But those who question the astonishing certainty with which some climate change scientists, Al Gore, and a passel of pundits, columnists and bloggers who barely passed high school chemistry claim to know what the effects of global warming will be, even though doing so requires extensive estimates, extrapolations and assumptions, are being no more than prudent, considering how frequently far simpler scientific conclusions have proven to be flawed, exaggerated, or as may be in the case of the eight glasses of water, just plain wrong. Prudence is especially appropriate when speculative science transmuted into doctrine calls for huge expenditures of scarce resources and the re-ordering of national priorities, effecting nations, commerce, businesses and lives.
Despite its obvious unfairness, I still hear and read the term “denier” applied to the skeptical and prudent by the climate change bullies, which produces in me the almost irresistible urge to conclude that such critics are as ignorant or more so than those they attack. The term “climate change denier,” with its obvious, intentional and offensive evocation of Holocaust denial, is either disgracefully unfair or astoundingly stupid. Denying that a major historical event occurred is madness inflamed by bias. Questioning whether scientific projections are sufficiently certain to justify massive expense and epic policy initiatives is not remotely the same or even similar, and insinuating otherwise is indefensible.
If researchers can be wrong about something as seemingly straightforward as the health effects of drinking water, it is neither unreasonable nor proof of an anti-scientific bent to withhold complete acceptance of projections in the infinitely more complex field of climate change. Scientists have been wrong before, and experience tells us that they will be again. Simply applying that fact to any policy deliberations based on research isn’t proof of foolishness and intellectual dishonesty.
Not doing so, however, is.