Put a qualified pilot at the controls

ESCANABA — The First Amendment gives all citizens a right to express an opinion. Not every opinion deserves the same weight.

Everyone has a Constitutional right to give an opinion on how to fly a 747 airliner, but we fly more comfortably knowing airlines put a qualified pilot at the controls. While a qualified pilot does not guarantee a perfect flight, a qualified pilot makes it likely that the plane will land safely and in the proper place. Someone randomly selected from the gate area would not have the same outcome.

The Weather Underground reported that there is strong consensus among climate scientists that climate change is occurring and that humans are a significant factor. President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, by which countries worldwide agreed to reduce green house gases to slow climate change.

A one or two degree temperature change on the 4th of July or on Valentine’s Day is not noticeable or crucial to our survival. However warming the earth by one degree melts glaciers and cause droughts. Melting glaciers raise oceans and droughts cause fires and famine. Melting glaciers submerged five islands in the Solomons and swamped six other islands, destroying villages.

At a May town hall meeting, downstate Congressman Tim Walberg told his constituents “…Well, as a Christian, I believe that there is a creator in God who is much bigger than us. And I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, he can take care of it.”

Mr. Walberg is more like the random guy in the gate area then a qualified pilot.

For example, the Defense Department is concerned. In a news release last July, the Defense Department wrote that it sent Congress a letter stating, “Global climate change will aggravate problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions that threaten stability in a number of countries.”

President Trump’s Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, told Congress “I agree that the effects of a changing climate — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation.”

Mr. Walberg used the ultimate argument — God — but others more qualified than Mr. Walberg have disagreed. The Roman Catholic Church has been around a long time and had its conflict with science.

In the 17th Century Galileo Galilei said that the earth orbited around the sun. To reach the conclusion Galileo used the scientific method. Churchmen objected to Galileo’s opinion based on its view of God’s word, the Bible. They cited biblical references that, “the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved,” and “the Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved” and “And the sun rises and sets and returns to its place.” Galileo was accused of heresy.

400 years later the Catholic Church recognized its injustice towards Galileo. Modern popes have expressly embraced science.

In 1988 Saint John Paul II called for unity and cooperation between science and theology. Science is the “what” of the universe and theology the “why.”

In December 2016 Pope Francis met with astrophysicist Stephen Hawkings. At that meeting the Pope said,“The Big Bang theory, which is proposed today as the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of a divine creator but depends on it. Evolution in nature does not conflict with the notion of Creation, because evolution presupposes the creation of beings who evolve…”

Two years ago Pope Francis released his encyclical on climate change and its effect on people and the earth. The Pope wrote that climate change was real, that humans were major contributors, and that climate change disproportionally effects the poor. He wrote failing to act on climate change individually and nationally is rejecting God. He relied on science to conclude that humans caused climate change. He used scripture as support for the moral imperative to act to correct climate change.

Mr. Walberg has a right to express his opinion on 747s and climate change but we wouldn’t want him to be our pilot in either case.

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Richard Clark practiced law for 41 years in Escanaba.