Close to Home: Denying expert opinion — when they feel like it

Is there scientific consensus on the truth and causes of global warming?

Yes, there is. Notwithstanding a small minority of outlier scientists who are speaking generally outside their areas of expertise and conservative groups whose political convictions or profit motive trump their reason and responsibility, there is wide scientific agreement that human activity is responsible for the alarming increase in global warming.

Like most communities that enjoy broad and deep educational opportunities, relative economic prosperity and sophistication, people in our community generally accede to the wisdom and historical contributions of science. This is evidenced by our community's acknowledgement that global warming is largely a function of human activity. In fact, there is frequent public ridicule and political insults aimed at "global warming deniers." This is not surprising since the failure to face the truths of global warming serves to inhibit systemic efforts to combat it. Thus deniers pose danger to our collective future. So, what paradoxical corollaries may be found in Sonoma County? At least two glaring examples come to mind: the anti-immunization movement and the efforts to prevent the fluoridation of public water supplies.

Clearly, there is consensus of expert opinion that immunizations and fluoridations are cost-effective medical interventions whose efficacy in preventing communicable disease and tooth decay is a matter of fact. These issues are beyond debate scientifically and medically. Witness that Hollywood celebrities champion anti-immunization while every relevant medical association and authoritative voice point out that such parochialism represents a clear and present danger to the public health.

Still, immunization deniers cling to a shopworn and fraudulent myth linking childhood autism with immunization. The "junk science" therein has been repeatedly de-bunked by the foremost epidemiologists and medical researchers in the world.

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