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JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY REX MURPHY IN THE TORONTO GLOBE AND MAIL

“Truth may enter the world by many doors, but she is never escorted by force.”

Rex, your opening aphorism is excellent, but it seems to me you need to apply it more widely yourself.

It’s not very honest to write such lines and use them only for selected applications.

It applies, for example, in spades to Afghanistan, but you’d never know that from some of your past comments on events there.

And it applies again to a school-yard bully prime minister, and again you’d never know that from some of your reflections on him.

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I know the Cato Institute well and met many of its senior people some years back.

Their most important supporter at the time I spent a day at their offices in Washington was Koch Oil.

Believe me, this is a glorified propaganda mill disguised as a dispassionate think tank. Their ‘fellows’ are the intellectual equivalent of guys in white lab coats on television commercials holding clipboards posing as doctors to sell headache remedies.

The formula is a favorite one in the United States where outfits like Heritage Foundation function exactly the same way.

Not that some of them still can’t say a true thing once in a while, much like Rex himself, but the trend in all their work is in one direction only – towards an American libertarianism, really a rather far out variety of conservatism.

Anyone who quotes them as an authority on any issue, without appropriately qualifying their status, is either naive or dishonest.

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There is mud here on both sides.

The fact is that, to an overwhelming degree, the world’s scientists agree that a form of global warming is underway.

Of course there are other opinions, but the impressiveness of the ranks on the warming side is something amateurs dare go against at their peril.

The most fascinating confirmation comes from the Pentagon, where nothing but the best and most expensive and most practical science is listened to. They issued an important report, some while back, identifying global warming as one of the most important long-term threats to the security of the United States.

The real question, whether human activity is causing the warming, is not answered. There are many excellent minds who believe it, but the facts are not conclusive.

So what society faces – before we get conclusive evidence, if we ever do – is a very high-stakes gamble. Change our technologies and behaviors as though the proposition were true, or don’t change and risk possible catastrophic results.

I’m not sure of the answer myself, and my lack of faith in humanity’s capacity to behave rationally suggests we will risk the catastrophe.

In the end, perhaps it does not matter. When our planet of apes passes, eventually another species will arise to take our place. After all, the dinosaurs lasted on the order of a hundred million years. Our half million or so is less than a blink of the cosmic eye.

Perhaps by then our robots will have inherited our place in the universe, as they most certainly will do eventually. They’ll be better adapted to survive and thrive and even travel to the stars.

So maybe there isn’t so much to get hot and bothered about.

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