Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba reads that a number of scientific societies have banded together, to write a letter to members of the United States Congress. In this letter, the societies state that human-driven climate change is a fact, that Congress needs to act to stop this climate change lest its consequences become too dire, and that the societies stand ready to assist Congress in taking this action.
YFNA expects that this letter might, at best, be the subject of a few polite congressional press releases before it is tabled and ignored. For reasons that, YFNA feigns, would be clearly stated in the response that many of Our representatives would write, if they could be troubled to do so.
Thank you for your letter of 28 June 2016. We have received many communications on this issue; nevertheless we are grateful for your input, and especially for your self-identification as the interest group that most stands to benefit, should the Congress act along the lines that you have suggested.
We note your willingness to assist us, in your capacity as experts, in our deliberations and, as you hope, actions on this subject. Please be advised that we receive such offers in case lots. Most of them get tabled and ignored, as yours will be. Please take a moment to consider our reasoning, before you launch into one or other of the ‘anti-science’, ‘anti-intellectual’ conspiracy theories to which your constituency, regretfully, frequently retreats.
Let us assume that the collective membership of the scientific societies that are signatory to your letter, and are eligible to vote in the United States of America, is on the order of 150,000 persons. A constituency of this size might just fit in the Rose Bowl. If it voted as a bloc, it might influence the outcome of an electoral contest for dog-catcher in a middling-sized Midwestern city.
Your membership, in moments that do not reflect well on your claims for intellectual mastery, is prone to accuse Congress and its representatives of bending to the will of small groups of influential people.
We hope you recognize that you yourselves represent a small group of people attempting to be influential, and bend Congress to your will.
We hope you recognize that, unlike yourselves, those influential people whom you accuse of tyranny over us represent the views of large, electorally significant constituencies. We could argue, if we chose, how these constituencies came to be. We could argue that no oligarch can command a large constituency unless that person recognizes and channels the views that the members of the constituency already hold.
But, we do not so choose. The point is moot. They have these large constituencies.
Moreover, we do not believe that your group has the capacity for assembling a large and electorally stable constituency. That is because, while your group is proclaiming the urgency of acting on climate change on your timetable (and your budget, which you, as a matter of course, would demand), others are advising us that this doing will be neither easy, nor cheap, nor popular.
We doubt that you welcome the recent findings of renowned (FRS) scientist Professor Kelly, or of your own government’s Energy Information Administration, any more than you welcomed the findings of renowned writer Michael Crichton a decade and more ago.
They nevertheless tell us that the path towards ‘fixing’ climate change will be long and arduous, far longer and more arduous than you care to represent to us. So arduous, in fact, that most of the members of your own constituency find it impossible to act in your own lives according to the strictures that you would place on others. So arduous, in fact, that any such attempt to ‘fix’ climate change would generate large constituencies of citizens – and, most to the point, voters – who will spare no pains to communicate their hatred for anyone responsible for inflicting these pains on them.
You will certainly not be sufficiently ignorant of recent events in the soon-to-be-former United Kingdom, and here in the US with the rage-driven Presidential candidacies of Mr Sanders and Mr Trump, to flippantly discount the electoral power of large constituencies who feel that they and their interests have been betrayed by ‘the experts’.
Let us argue again against the ‘exploitation’ model for this phenomenon. No demagogues, we say, can exploit the masses unless those demagogues recognize the underlying mood of the people, and express that mass mood successfully enough to navigate themselves to the head of the mass.
Again, though, the point is moot. These people have electorally-significant constituencies. You don’t. And, we understand that the scientific method – the principle and techniques of thought on which you base your claims – forbids you the propaganda tools that all others recognize as essential for the assembling of large constituencies. For, the moment you adopt a cause instead of diligently following data whither they lead, whether you like the answers they announce or not, whether they profit you or not, the mantle of ‘scientist’ automatically falls from your shoulders.
We argue that, if we were indeed to be swayed by your cause, regardless of its truth, accuracy, or justice, then the oligarchic rule that you accuse us of would in fact come true, on your behalf, and without an electorally-significant constituency to support it. Surely you will recognize that this is an egregious, if not fatal, violation of the principles of republican government, principles which you, no doubt, espouse in public.
We conclude that your arguments should not be directed at us. They need to be directed at your fellow citizens, the People of the United States of America. If you wish to achieve your goals, it is they whom you have to win over.
Best of luck.
The Elected Congressional Representatives of the People of the United States of America