In what is fast turning into one of the most bizarre national debates of recent times, yet another chapter has been added to the Big Meat Debacle. This addition comes courtesy of the other half of the Healy Raes, Michael Healy-Rae, the Ying to Danny Healy-Rae's Ying - for they are one and the same.
Two days ago, Danny Healy-Rae, made his feelings known on Leo Varadkar's decision to cut back on his consumption of red meat for health and environmental reasons. Those feelings that he made known were largely in keeping with how one imagines a 19th century witch doctor might also view the Taoiseach's decision - namely that it was baffling and foolish. Danny Healy-Rae thought it the height of metropolitan narcissism for Leo Varadkar to be so egotistical as to assume that what he had for dinner could have any impact on the weather. He thus exhibited an inability and unwillingness to investigate causal relationships that is frankly baffling for an elected official.
Naturally, it was surely inevitable that we would soon also be treated to Michael Heally-Rae's thoughts on the issue of eating meat. Speaking today on RTÉ Radio One during a debate on veganism and climate change on LiveLine, Michael Healy-Rae weighed in with a nuanced, well-rounded and well-researched and grounded suite of opinions and insights on both subjects...
"You're telling people so that if we don't all stop eating meat, the world is going to end as we know it. I think that's a load of absolute rubbish. I don't mean that in a dismissive way, it's my honest opinion," he began, exhibiting a balanced understanding of the issues of industrial-scale pastoral farming and greenhouse gas emissions.
"The world has continued up until now with people eating what they wanted to eat, and this seems to be a new fad at the moment, telling people well, it's really all our fault because we're eating too much meat... I think that's crazy," he continued.
It was then put to him by the host, Philip Boucher Hayes, that while it was all well and good to say that, his arguments were little more than opinion, which he was trying to pit against the consensus of scientific thinking. Michael Healy-Rae's riposte to this was an astounding exhibition of wilful ignorance and the type of skepticism that is so parochially minded as to be dangerous. He declared that "Well I'll tell you now about science, if you go back on history, there are different people holding different views on facts all throughout the history pages. I'm just telling you that I don't agree with it, I'm not going to buy into it."
While it is obvious that yes, ideas and attitudes change in science and have done over the years, 'science' is not a cohesive set of beliefs that one must buy into. Science is a systematic approach of processing and interpreting data which adopts, adapts and, if necessary, sheds theories based on the best possible evidence. The more evidence there is, the more sound a theory's grounding. Anthropogenic climate change is near universally accepted in the scientific community. Opinion is therefore irrelevant in the face of evidence.
Indeed, Philip Boucher Hayes expounded on this idea saying that "We've [RTÉ] done this balanced programme nonsense when it comes to climate change for years .... not when it comes to accepted, proven measured fact. There is no case to be made for presenting the other side any longer. Now we have to deal with what are we going to do in the future, and you're saying you're going to do nothing."