Ridiculing environmentalists risks demeaning the underlying science

Conservative commentator Des Houghton made yet another attack on environmentalists in his column in The Courier-Mail on Saturday 20 Sep. 2014.  See the President’s response published by The Courier-Mail on Wednesday 24 Sep.  Houghton responded on the following Saturday, 27 Sep., repeating a fallacious argument that runs something like this: some environmental campaigners are extremist, therefore all environmental warnings can be ignored.  Members are reassured that the Society does not intend to become an activist campaigner for environmental or any other causes.  Our role must remain as a learned society.  This requires us to uphold the value of science and allows us to advocate that scientific knowledge must be accommodated in policy and development decisions.  Many warnings made by campaigners about environmental deterioration are based upon solid, peer-reviewed science and it is the validity of that science that the Society defends.  We should not accept passively the allegations, sometimes implied, sometimes stated baldly, that warnings about damage to the planet’s life support systems are made only by anarchists bent on wrecking capitalist society.