They Don't Get It
Getting Their Message a Cross
Conservative religious leaders have launched a "We Get It!" campaign that just goes to prove that saying something doesn't make it so. The campaign aims to gather a million signatures on a petition opposing climate-change action, with the argument that tackling global warming will hurt the world's poor. "Our stewardship of creation must be based on Biblical principles and factual evidence," says the petition. "We face important environmental challenges, but must be cautious of claims that our planet is in peril from speculative dangers like man-made global warming."
So far the petition doesn’t have many takers, but the usual suspects have already signed, including Senator James Inhofe (who just visited Minnesota), and James Dobson. No surprise there.
I wonder if Ben Stein will sign on. Look for DaveScot, William Dembski, and the whole Intelligent Design gaggle to flock to it as well. Good for them.
How sad. But as I’ve said before, the Internet provides us, for the first time, with a virtual paper trail of creationist/pseudoscientific movements that will prove beneficial in the future in counteracting the influence of these groups. As we saw with “creation science” in the 1980s, these groups follow the same pattern.
On the other end of the woo scale, “Peak Oil” cultists are constructing “satellite communities” on the same old romantic “survivalist” silliness.
BUSKIRK, N.Y. - A few years ago, Kathleen Breault was just another suburban grandma, driving countless hours every week, stopping for lunch at McDonald's, buying clothes at the mall, watching TV in the evenings.
That was before Breault heard an author talk about the bleak future of the world's oil supply. Now, she's preparing for the world as we know it to disappear.
Breault cut her driving time in half. She switched to a diet of locally grown foods near her upstate New York home and lost 70 pounds. She sliced up her credit cards, banished her television and swore off plane travel. She began relying on a wood-burning stove."
I was panic-stricken," the 50-year-old recalled, her voice shaking. "Devastated. Depressed. Afraid. Vulnerable. Weak. Alone. Just terrible."
Convinced the planet's oil supply is dwindling and the world's economies are heading for a crash, some people around the country are moving onto homesteads, learning to live off their land, conserving fuel and, in some cases, stocking up on guns they expect to use to defend themselves and their supplies from desperate crowds of people who didn't prepare.
The exact number of people taking such steps is impossible to determine, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the movement has been gaining momentum in the last few years.
(See also “Imagine there No Oil: Scenes from a Liberal Apocalypse.” Subscription required.)
Now, I certainly approve of weaning oneself off of junk food and driving and malls, turning off the television, eating local food (and losing 70 pounds, congratulations!), and paying down (but not cutting up) one's credit cards. However, fear and panic is no way to respond to what is, yes, a serious crisis. Though I accept that we are at or near global “peak oil,” that only represents the top of a bell curve, projecting not (as Ben Stein would have it) of all the oil in the world, but the portion of the world’s oil that is easily accessible and exploitable by us. There is still plenty of oil in the world - and we’ll probably never reach it all. Nor should we.
I wonder what these naive, self-styled pioneers are going to do when they figure out that modern corn is (like most wheat, wild rice, etc.) a hybrid, unable to reseed itself beyond a few generations, if at all. They'll need factories to produce their seeds. (I also wonder where they're going to get a renewable supply of canning jar lids, since reusing them risks breeding botulism. And toilet paper? They'll use leaves? Well, read on.)
We cannot know what the sum total of the effects of global climate change will be. The earth is a complicated system and will not get uniformly “hotter.” (The earth is tilted on its axis, for one thing.) Heat in one area can produce cooling in another. One scenario that particularly alarms me is the possible shutting down of the Gulf Stream, which would likely produce advancing ice sheets. Oh, goodie. A frightening hypothetical, but not worth scaring people silly about.*
What we will see in the short term is greater spread of airborne and insect-carried diseases in developing nations, and the encroachment of antibiotic-resistant Tuberculosis into the developed countries. (TB is following in the wake of the HIV-AIDS devastation of Africa and India.) We will see ocean levels rise, and the disruption of seasonal ocean currents, which will affect local ecosystems and spawning patterns. We will see the die-off of certain trees that rely on regular cold winters to repel parasites, to be replaced by fir trees (and so much for natural toilet paper).
Frankly, I think people like Kathleen Breault are doing the right thing - except for buying guns and cutting themselves off. It sounds like people like her are scared mostly of other people - and no matter what you think of Al Gore, that's not a reaction he ever advocated.
*For the ultimate Ice Age, which allegedly happened in the Precambrian, check out “How the Earth was Made” (a bad title, and some hammy commercial break transitions, but fun and basically a good documentary).
Labels: global warming