Newmann: Of man and wolf
“Homo homini lupus.” Old Latin proverb: “Man is wolf to man.”
So, here we are, a couple of millennia after the writing of the above adage, with incredible advances that would totally boggle the minds of the ancients. Or, for that matter, many folks born earlier in the previous century. Science and technology have been at the forefront of our most recent push forward.
But has that push now started going backward?
We’ve been caught up in an intramural battle with ourselves over the validity of science. COVID-19 has been a catalyst in creating a very deep national division on both science and, subsequently, the virus.
Science is in the vaccine camp; a host of doubters, including those in the political and media arenas, are — or have been — trying to thwart that science. Understandably, many folks are confused, frustrated … and angry. Who do you believe? What’s most convenient to hear?
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Science has put out different messages over the course of this pandemic, especially regarding masks and gatherings. The messages have been fluid — but science is fluid, too, especially considering the mutations that the virus has undergone. So, it’s not illogical that the messages change given the changing nature of the virus. But one overall message has remained constant since the introduction of the vaccines: get the shot; stop — or at least now stem — the spread.
Meanwhile, the variant is firing ahead. With very severe consequences. And a segment of influential folks still fans the flames of skepticism and doubt.
Speaking of flames, the current fires here and abroad are all too real. They may just be the start of a trend. The latest UN study highlights a climate that is moving in the wrong direction. The report, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is over 3,000 pages and authored by 234 scientists. It’s not very pleasant.
The authors say the bulk of the change has been caused by humans and will only be exacerbated. The promising caveat is that we can still hold the line where it currently is if we start to take immediate action to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
As with the coronavirus, there are deep divisions. And lots of misinformation. Folks disagree on whether climate change actually exists. Politicians range from believers to deniers. And science is again subject to scrutiny by skeptics, even though the constant smoke from faraway fires — smoke that has now reached the North Pole for the first time in recorded history — may be a signal to even the most staunch deniers that something really is amiss.
So here we are, stuck with the two C’s: COVID-19 and climate.
Both topics spark a ton of controversy — with some rancor thrown in for good measure.
But both have solutions.
Do we actually try to unite to control these scourges? We’ve got the science and technology.
Or do we just wander off on our separate paths and deny the science — and hope for the best?
Maybe we can take a page from the behavior of wolves — who got a pretty bad rap in the Latin adage. They figured out long ago how to work together. For the good of the pack.
Tom Newmann splits his time between Edwards and Queenstown, New Zealand. He has been going winter-to-winter since 1986. He was also a journalist in Missoula, Montana, at the Missoulian for quite a few years. Email him at email@example.com.