Do you remember all those years when scientists argued that smoking would kill us but the doubters insisted that we didn't know for sure?
That the evidence was inconclusive, the science uncertain?
That the antismoking lobby was out to destroy our way of life and the government should stay out of the way?
Lots of Americans bought that nonsense, and over three decades, some 10 million smokers went to early graves.
There are upsetting parallels today, as scientists in one wave after another try to awaken us to the growing threat of global warming.
The latest was a panel from the National Academy of Sciences, enlisted by the White House, to tell us that the Earth's atmosphere is definitely warming and that the problem is largely man-made.
The clear message is that we should get moving to protect ourselves.
The president of the National Academy, Bruce Alberts, added this key point in the preface to the panel's report: “Science never has all the answers.
国家科学院院长 Bruce Alberts 在专家团报告的前言中加上了这一重要观点：“科学解答不了所有问题。
But science does provide us with the best available guide to the future,
and it is critical that our nation and the world base important policies on the best judgments that science can provide concerning the future consequences of present actions. ”
Just as on smoking, voices now come from many quarters insisting that the science about global warming is incomplete, that it's OK to keep pouring fumes into the air until we know for sure.
This is a dangerous game: by the time 100 percent of the evidence is in, it may be too late.
With the risks obvious and growing, a prudent people would take out an insurance policy now.
Fortunately, the White House is starting to pay attention.
But it's obvious that a majority of the president's advisers still don't take global warming seriously.
Instead of a plan of action, they continue to press for more research -- a classic case of “paralysis by analysis. ”
To serve as responsible stewards of the planet, we must press forward on deeper atmospheric and oceanic research.
But research alone is inadequate.
If the Administration won't take the legislative initiative, Congress should help to begin fashioning conservation measures.
A bill by Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, which would offer financial incentives for private industry, is a promising start.
弗吉尼亚的民主党议员 Robert Byrd 提出一项议案，从经济上激励私企，就是一个良好的开端。
Many see that the country is getting ready to build lots of new power plants to meet our energy needs.
If we are ever going to protect the atmosphere, it is crucial that those new plants be environmentally sound.