Convincing

Yesterday, while watching the documentary, entitled Before The Flood, about the changing climate and human influence on it, I was reminded of a response two priests gave me to a question I once asked. I had taken an archaeology course with them at the University of New Mexico in 1997, and wondering what they thought about the knowledge presented in the course, I simply asked what they thought. One looked at the other and replied, “The evidence is pretty convincing.” The other nodded his head in agreement.

There are many lessons in life. One lesson that is still with me today is that what seems new to me and perhaps to some around me, doesn’t necessarily make it new to everyone. The older I become, the more I realize new ideas are very rare artifacts. There may be new translations, someone may bring something out of the private realm and into a more popular public realm, or someone may even think of something in a different way, but to find something that is new has always been a rare find indeed.

So often what is perceived as knowledge is often biased towards what is currently known by the one thinking about it or discussing it. Causation can sometimes be predicted and witnessed but will always be relative, pending future evidence. This is a difficult view for anyone to hold, particularly one in an advisory position like a scientist, who sometimes in life must make the best in-the-moment decisions possible, based on the evidence at hand.

After watching the documentary, experiencing my recollections about the subject since at least the 1990s, and comparing them to what I have seen first hand, the evidence that we are negatively impacting our environment does seem pretty convincing. Time, however, will be the ultimate judge as to whether or not as individuals we will be around to witness the complete tragedy unfold or if measured interventions will prevent the catastrophe, assuming they can or ever could.