If you want to start an argument at a Christmas party this week, be sure to bring up the Copenhagen climate deal.
It’s certain to prove divisive as there is no consensus among Canadians about the threat posed by global warming.
Some people will tell you that life as we know it is pretty much doomed simply because a bunch of people in Denmark couldn’t agree to take strong enough action on the environment.
Other people will tell you that concerns about global warming are about as valid as worries about Y2K were a few years ago. (Remember when anyone who suggested that the threat of Y2K might be exaggerated was dismissed as a fool?)
Only time will tell how serious the threat of global warming is or isn’t, but one thing is certain: global warming is the new religion.
It’s the topic of conversation most likely to inflame emotions and least likely to provoke rational dialogue.
Some people are so dogmatic about their point of view that they simply don’t think people holding opposing views should be permitted to share them, even though we live in a democracy.
While people on both sides of the issue are guilty of this, it’s the global warming alarmists who appear to have taken dogmatism to the extreme.
As most people know, Al Gore and David Suzuki insist the science is settled when it comes to global warming, and that anyone holding a contrary view is out to lunch.
That’s not exactly an intelligent, scientific approach.
A more reasonable approach is to consider all the available information and be prepared to change one’s mind if new empirical data demonstrates that global warming is either a bigger or smaller problem than previously believed.
That’s the scientific way. That’s the democratic way.
The religious way is to dig in one’s heels and insist that everyone else is wrong, and that there is only one path to heaven.
The Christian is right, but the Buddhist is wrong. The Buddhist is right, but the Muslim is wrong. The Muslim is right, but the Jew is wrong. The Jew is right, but the Scientologist is wrong, etc.
If this global warming debate teaches us anything, it should teach us to respect a variety of viewpoints.
That doesn’t mean as individuals that we have to believe in climate change or disbelieve climate change.
Instead, it’s probably more important for all of us to recognize that everyone has a right to their own beliefs concerning global warming, politics, religion, etc.
We all also have a right to express those views.
We should be suspicious whenever anyone tells us to stop seeking out new information, shut down our brains and believe in whatever cause is being peddled.
Human beings were once burned at the stake for questioning Christianity.
Let’s not criticize anyone for asking questions. It’s the people who never ask questions or challenge the status quo who you really have to worry about.
Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.