Cassandra Windmill.jpg

You may have heard the different descriptions given of environmental scientists by the left and the right. The right prefers to describe the environmental scientists as Cassandras, mockingly pointing out that they spread a message of gloom and doom. The left prefers to paint them as Don Quixotes, misunderstood knight errants wandering the land in search of evil giants and damsels in distress. The preferred frame of reference you use in referring to this branch of science can immediately give away your political leanings.

So, readers of this site who might have begun to assume that I lean toward the left might be surprised to learn that I agree with the right on this one. What? You don’t accept the need to protect the environment? The hard-won science behind the advocacy? Sputter all you want, I stick with my answer – the environmental scientists are indeed Cassandras. To claim otherwise is to reveal your extreme ignorance of classical literature, and drive yet another stake into the heart of the idea that Americans receive a first class education.

I find it highly ironic that the left and right have chosen these particular designations. It is as if they are tacitly admitting that the other side is right. What? Yes, of course. If you stop to think about your dim dark past and the stories you were forced to read by high school teachers not much more enthusiastic about them than you were yourself, you will realize that I am correct. Cassandras, not Don Quixotes.

You see, Cassandra did give prophecy of gloom and doom, full of dire consequences for those who listened to her. No one listened to her. Unfortunately for them, she was right. She had been blessed by Apollo with the gift of foresight, but when that did not garner him the sexual favors he desired, he cursed her so that no one would listen to her prophecies. So the Greeks accepted the gift of the large wooden horse. The rest, as they say, is history. Failure to listen to the prophecy led to preventable disaster.

Don Quixote, on the other hand, had a peculiar habit of jousting with windmills, insisting that they were giants in disguise. His mental aberrations led him to see things as they were not, leading him into adventure, yes, but mostly, in the words of Sancho Panza, mostly misadventures. He turned the lives of his loved ones upside down in his pursuit of the elusive, the delusional, and the non-existent. To follow Quixote was to be unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy.

So, yes, I hold with the right. They are admitting that the environmental scientists are telling the truth about the dire consequences that face the planet if we refuse to listen and make changes. Why the left persists in arguing with that by claiming that science is delusional I cannot comprehend.