My friend believes that my thoughts on global warming, for example, are pure hysteria.
When I was in college, scientists began to point out a serious problem with population growth, that food resources might be outpaced by the world's population. The people bring this to the public's attention were called hysterical. Some scientists sprung into action, and we had the green revolution which without exaggeration saved the lives of billions of people.
During that time I followed Science Magazine as my way of being a scientist. In 1979 I started reading about a strange kind of cancer, Kaposi Sarcoma in gay men. After several articles over months, I began to realize that gay men needed to pay attention to this. The science was clear, something very bad was going to happen. Something had to happen fast. But gay men continued their usual social activities, including public baths. They didn't believe in the science. Two years later the cause, a virus, was discovered, and the outcome of catching the HIV virus, AIDS, was determined. But many people still refused to acknowledge the reality. Millions of people died.
I could see what was going to happen, but I could do nothing about it except write about it. The one gay man I knew (at that time) thought I was being hysterical. Hysterical maybe, but true. Millions of people were going to die because they ignored the science.
Later I began reading about the destruction of our planet's ozone layer which shields us from most of the UV radiation from the sun as a result of such chemicals as the freon in refrigerators and air conditioners, and by chemicals used in the computer chip process entering our atmosphere. The loss of the ozone layer would have been a severe environmental catastrophe. This was very hard for most people to understand. The science was clear but few people were paying attention.
Scientists were somehow able to convince the producers of these chemicals that they needed to find other ways to cool and to make computer chips. Despite the fact that few people were aware of this problem it was solved. Most people didn't understand what the problem was, but chemical manufacturers throughout the world sprung into action and produced alternatives even though they had to take losses. While the ozone hole in the Southern Hemisphere is still something we watch, the most damage it could have caused was avoided. And avoided without a negative reaction from the companies who had to absorb the losses.
What are the lesson's here? Scientists are again telling us of another catastrophic outcome. Again people are being called hysterical for talking about the science. We could spring into action as was done with the threat to the ozone layer. Or we could develop new scientific methods as was done with the "green revolution", that is, alternative energies. Or we could like people in the 1980's, pretend that AIDS isn't happening.
There are many people springing into action on climate change, developing alternative energy sources, for instance. But we must reduce the production of CO2 flowing into our atmosphere or that work will be for naught. People who point out the dire consequences of pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere are being called hysterical. But the people who were called hysterical for pointing out the consequences of HIV were right, and millions of people died.
And the climate scientists are being called hysterical for pointing out the dire consequences if we don't do something about CO2 immediately. But if they are ignored "because they are hysterical", hundreds of millions of people will die. It will dwarf the consequences of HIV.