If there's one thing I hate, it's ignorance. Ignorance, in my opinion, is the only true stupidity because it not only requires an absence of knowledge, it requires someone to willfully turn their cheek against new information. One of the most prolific forms of ignorance that I see these days is the belief that common folk know waaaaay more than those nerdy, lab-bound scientists who are always telling us to change the way we do things. Take, for example, the caller to the CBC the other day.

The noon-hour show, BC Almanac was discussing the recent recommendation from the David Suzuki Foundation (backed up by a host of scientists in peer-review) that at least 50% of British Columbia be "conserved" in order to limit the impacts of global warming and provide a buffer for species that will need to adapt to a warming climate. I put "conserve" in quotation marks because they weren't actually advocating that we set aside half of the province in a giant no-touch zone.. rather, they were advocating a more science-based management scheme that would address the needs of whole ecosystems. Forestry would still be allowed, but it would be managed differently. Ditto with other forms of land use. Sustainability would be promoted, and more effort would be spent on replanting forests, salvaging already cut wood, collecting waste material for biofuels, etc..

And of course the first caller was someone who didn't believe a word of it.

"The government already set aside 12% of the province in parks and that's enough. We need jobs, so we need to cut down all the trees we can. Scientists sit around in their labs and offices and make these recommendations, but they don't know anything about where we live."

We sit around in our labs? We don't know what's going on out there? I'm sorry, but most of the scientists I know spend the vast majority of their lives constantly studying - in the lab, in the field, in the community - in order to make recommendations like this. And a sustainable economy will still have jobs - they just won't be the type that you're used to. You might now make as much, but the days when you could make $70-grand a year just for driving a truck are coming to close, and they're not coming back. We need to put more value into using the resources we have, and less into just cutting them down and sending them away.

Anyway, this type of willful ignorance of science and how's it's done drives me nuts. I'm a scientist, I'm from a small town, and I spend a lot of time out there looking at what is best for the environment. I don't take any recommendations like this lightly. But when a recommendation like this is made, there has to be some effort by the people out there to understand why it's recommended, what it will really mean for them, and what they can do to mitigate the effects on themselves and on the environment.


Jennoit said...

Egad...that's why I can't listen to call-in shows. Rex Murphy on the weekends just about does me in (not Rex, the callers).

narly said...

Unfortunately, these days people listen to the loudest voices, not the reasonable voices :(

kirsten said...

Indeed. Sadly, the loudest voices are usually the most ignorant :P I suppose I should start yelling more... :)