Hogan's Alley

Friday, March 30, 2007

Must Ecology Now Be Taken On Faith?

It would appear that the NY Times, along with many other publications, no longer has any intention of providing any data whatsoever to support the claims of scientists who report evidence of human interference and damage to the world's ecosystem. Now that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued its latest summary report, and all debate on the existence of global warming and that human behaviors are its primary cause has been declared irrational, the Times seems to see no need to trouble its readers with any more confusing facts.

The latest example is found in their report today of an article in Science, (brief summary only, full article available for a price), that asserts that overfishing of North Atlantic great shark populations has led to an overabundance of smaller fish, which in turn has led to the depletion of the bay scallop population on the East Coast of the US.

Not once in the Times' piece is any data at all provided to support these claims. Readers are left to ponder on their own such questions as: how much has shark fishing increased over the last several decades; how much has this population of sharks decreased; how many more smaller scallop predators are there now; and lastly, just how depleted is the bay scallop population. One assumes that such data is at the heart of the Science article, but that is only a guess for us nonsubscribers. Apparently the Times didn't what to bother our pretty little heads with such detail. The issue is now a matter of received truth, to be taken on faith.

While I understand that most scientists, especially ecologists, are only one notch below the Saints of the Catholic Church and the Pope himself in terms of their reliability and infallibility, I, for one, stubbornly cling to the quaint desire to have the available facts at hand when I am being asked to accept new information, even about ecology.

Shame on the Times.

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