As scientists, we like to think that we are ruled by logic and reason rather than tribal instincts and factional rivalry. Robert Lattimer’s letter characterizing Rudy Baum’s review of Al Gore’s new book as “one liberal praising another” seems to refute that idea (C&EN, May 20, page 2).
Growing up, I was taught that conservatives were cautious about reckless change and careful with resources. After reading Gore’s book, I would label him a true conservative. He calls for the maintenance of our natural resources capital and warns against the reckless spending of it for short-term gain. These days, it’s impossible to separate science from politics and economics. But Gore makes a compelling case that all three must change—significantly and soon—if civilization is to survive. He suggests that the economics of capitalism must be modified to take into account natural resource destruction, that politics must divorce from big-money special interests to restore the U.S. as the world leader for positive change, and that science can help save us only if it is tempered by wisdom and common sense.
Characterizing the conversation as liberal versus conservative seems more anal-ogous to the names of sports teams. As scientists, we must elevate the conversation.
Mark W. Schauer