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Opinion: Bill Walton, The Flat Earth Fable

It sure looks flat from here
20190202 turtle walton

Does it not seem incredible to you that there are still people around espousing that the world is flat, not round? 

Even if their education was sorely lacking, the exposure to modern media should have persuaded them that the world was somewhat round. However, they claim all that is fake news, fake science. There is no International Space Station – it is all Hollywood or akin to sales advertising for stuff that really doesn’t work as depicted. It is just not true.

If these flat-earth people were frequent flyers they would have observed the earth below them and seen that it appeared to be round. Of course, that could just be an optical illusion. Things are seldom what they seem, and this can be more so from 10,000 meters above the earth with the sun in your eyes or clouds obscuring the earth. Even frequent flyers can be confused whether things are on the level or not.

Fake science is an oxymoron of course. Science is based on facts, well observed, and recorded. We come up with a theory, verify it with mathematical formulae or deductive reasoning that supports the facts, and Bob’s your uncle. Pythagoras, Archimedes, Newton, and even Einstein all believed in science and most of their theories have withstood the test of time.

There were suspicions and rumours that the world was round and it took some brave sailors to sail over the horizon of what many thought was the edge of the flat world. Some exploring sailors never came back and that proved they had fallen off the earth. Magellan set out with 4 ships to find his way around the world – or at least to the Spice Islands - but in fact, he didn’t make it – he fell off the flat earth somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. One of his ships did finally return to Spain and the surviving crew was fairly certain that the earth was roundish.

We were taught that Magellan was the first to sail around the world but don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. Take climate change, for instance.  Don’t let the recorded facts (science) that the globe is warming, change your thinking that the outside weather this year disproves the science. The climatologists have the numbers and are doing the math. Just ask the polar bears.

The same thinking should apply to the Blanding turtles: they are at risk of disappearing as their habitat and the polluted environment overtakes them.  The science behind this – counting turtles, looking at lifespan and reproduction, loss of habitat, and the vagaries of climate - say we ought to be doing something to help this ancient species survive the onslaught of human expansion. That is if we really care about turtles. Or any other species that gets in our way during the onward rush to cover the (round) globe with homo sapiens.

Of course, there are people who see the need for more people and fewer turtles. One might say they are the modern generation of the Flat Earth tribe. They believe that having more people is the answer to our quest for more, more, more. Digging into the science of this, we might find that the people who want more people are the ones looking for cheap labour. Or at best, more customers for their products and produce.

I suppose it is a comparable to the Head Turtle telling his followers to lay more eggs, be more cautious crossing the road and move away from construction sites. Our new Budget Chief is asking us to dig deeper into the bottomless pit of our wallets (or is it our pitiless bottoms)  to grow the city and expand our habitat for more people, more taxpayers.  The Flat Earthers at City Hall seemingly cannot see over the horizon to the day when the pockets of the aging population are empty and we fall off the earth (or into it).

Maybe we should just drain the swamp, pick up the turtles, and move them to our adjacent townships. That way we would have more room for those 10,000 people to live in this cold, forsaken, snow-covered, northern wilderness we call home sweet home.