The accounts in the last three chapters of the safety of alternative methods of energy generation, global warming and other environmental effects show once again a very familiar pattern. First there is the detection of some unexpected effect by a scientist. If this effect poses a threat to a well-established industry the industry tries to discredit the scientist's work, aided by other scientists who obtain different results. The journalists pay little attention, apart from writing articles about the general unreliability of scientists and The Scare that Never Was. Then another scientist obtains result that confirms the effect beyond any doubt, and shows that it could have seriously damaging effects. Immediately the journalists spring into action, blasting the wicked capitalists who are callously endangering the public and exaggerating the harmful effects. The scientist who made the original discovery may at this stage try to bring about a more balanced assessment of the situation, but he is completely ignored. Alarmed by all this, the Government or the United Nations sets up a high-level commission to investigate the matter. Meanwhile the industry that has its profitability threatened by the discovery redoubles its efforts to show that its products are quite harmless, and the journalists step up their campaign. At some stage the public become alarmed by the exaggerated accounts of the journalists and over-reacts by changing their lifestyle, even if the result is that they adopt an even more dangerous life-style. They also demand immediate Government action. The Government responds by assuring everyone that there is no immediate danger, and that nothing can be done until the Commission has reported its findings. The journalists, having stirred up the emotional storm, have now lost interest and are off chasing another scare story. The Government suddenly becomes convinced of the correctness of the discovery and realises that it must take action, whether or not that action is really effective, and whether or not there are much more useful ways of spending the money required. It knows that it will lose votes if it does not follow the mood of the public, even if by now it realises that it forces it to act in a way that are against the long-term interests of the people.
In such a situation, the leaders of the Church have an opportunity and a duty, namely to proclaim the truth, and to emphasise that action must be taken in accord with the long-term needs of humanity. Church leaders are not constrained by short-term political pressures or by the need to court popularity and they do not have to seek votes in order to remain in office. Speaking the truth may and probably will be unpopular, but this is not surprising. Indeed, their vocation as followers of Christ is not to be popular but to speak the truth.
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