Monday, June 25, 2007

Bring on the mockery, it is richly deserved

Oh good lord. They really are bringing out the d-string players here, everyone with three firing neurons having already retreated to lick their wounds and regroup, leaving the imbeciles standing sentry.

They are down to…Emily Yoffe – the “Human Guinea Pig” from Slate and “Day to Day” – whose claim to fame is humiliating herself for the amusement of others, and writing a book about a neurotic beagle. (So sure, I'll trust her expertise on matters of climate science...)


Why the fuck should I take this twit seriously on anything? Much less something so serious as Global Warming? What are her credentials that the Washington Post would give her a column to address a topic so serious as global climate change in the first damned place? (For the record, I don’t listen to Leonardo DiCaprio’s or Sheryl Crow's scientific pretensions either.)

She is just too precious. I fear I might have to spend a bit of time on this, so rich is the mock-worthy material. Let the fun commence!

It was a mild January evening, and people had filled the restaurant's outdoor patio. As our group walked past the tables, one of my friends said, "This terrifies me." I don't know if she was reassured later by the chilly April, but we are all supposed to be terrified of the weather now.

Hell, she shows her stupidity (ignorance can be helped, but stupidity is organic) when she doesn’t know the difference between climate and weather (hint: the former is an aggregate of the latter). It’s like expecting me to take a stem cell research opponent seriously when they can’t tell me what the hell a telomere is. I have already snorted.

In "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore tells us that unless drastic global changes are made, our cities will be inundated and those of us who haven't drowned will face a world wracked by cataclysmic weather and swarming with pestilence. One of his devotees, actor Leonardo DiCaprio, is coming out with his own environmental horror movie warning of human extinction if we continue living as we are. This would have a negative effect on the box office, but extinction might be preferable to the future Gore envisions.

See? What did I tell you! She is just precious! Let me explain this for you sweet-pea. When the sea ice started melting, it took on a snowball rolling down the mountain quality. Its simple physics – dark colors (water) absorb energy (heat) that white (ice) reflected back to space. This raises temperatures. This melts more ice, and raises the temperature further. Besides the fact that melting sea ice kinda totally jacks the polar and aquatic eco systems, the rising temperatures cause ice sheets and glaciers on land to increase their melt rate, and that raises sea levels. It all boils down to four little words: No Ice, No Us. Silly girl – she only needs to think about a glass of tea…when the ice melts, you still have roughly the same volume. But you can’t add more tea to a full glass. Ice melting on land has that effect. Frankly, anyone too stupid to get this by now should make sure they are wearing a helmet before they leave the house. What size are you Emily? About a 6 ¾? Or smaller? (The picture is of the arctic ice cap, the top shot taken in 1979 and the bottom one taken in 2003.)

I, however, refuse to see the apocalypse in every balmy day. And I think it's wrong to let our children believe they'll be swept away before they get a chance to fret about college admissions. An article in The Post this spring described children anxious, sleepless and tearful about the end; one 9-year-old said she worried about global warming "because I don't want to die."

Hmmm. Remember the Cold War? I do. People like me, who crawled under our desks at school on a regular basis grew up and worked for a nuclear freeze. I don’t know if there will be a correlation in ten years like there was with us, but I would be willing to bet the kids who are scared today do something tomorrow. God knows the Emily Yoffe’s are worthless in that regard.

Usually we want to protect our children from awful events, adjusting the message to suit their age. Certainly we tried to do that after Sept. 11. But an essential part of the global warming awareness movement is the belief that scaring us to death is the best way to spur massive change. Gore explicitly compares warming to the Nazis of the last century and terrorists of this one.

Again, air raid drills. Like wooden school desks would protect us from a nuclear blast. She acts like this is new. It isn’t. And while that was a possibility, or a potential, the probability of catastrophic damage because of climate change approaches 1.

That is worth getting excited about.

They sure seem to have a double standard for fear - if it can be used to whip up a military frenzy, they are all for it - but let it address something that can't have a gun pointed at it and it's just hysterical. I grew up in fear of nuclear holocaust. I grew up and did something about it, because my parents generation were not able to see the folly of their ways from their vantage point in history. And shutting up because it might upset the kiddies is a piss-poor excuse anyway.

And a recent New York Times profile of Gore tells that we are to be flooded with "An Inconvenient Truth." It is going to be shown in schools; book versions for children and young adults and a children's television show are planned. The global Live Earth concerts scheduled for July 7 are expected to raise millions, going to a three-year public relations effort, headed by Gore, to deluge us with bad news.

Maybe, just maybe, that is because it presents a message that is scientifically sound and presented in a format that is accessible and easily understood by anyone with an I.Q. above that of burnt toast.

Why the fuck did the Washington Post give this twit any ink on this matter? Says a lot about how Mrs. Graham's paper has lost it's way under Fred-the-Feckless Hiatt.

All this is not to say that it's not getting warmer and that curbing our profligate environmental ways is not a commendable and necessary goal. But perhaps this movement is sowing the seeds of its own destruction -- even as it believes the human species has sown its own. There must be a limit to how many calamitous films, books and television shows we, and our children, can absorb.

Objection. Assertion not in evidence. I seem to recall a couple of TV movies having a hell of an impact on the nuclear disarmament movement in the wake of Reagan scaring the shit out of everyone by saying something so patently absurd as “winnable nuclear war.” (Amiable dunce was too kind by half.) The Day After and Threads were broadcast in 1983 and 1984 respectively, and the Freeze movement moved into the mainstream. I lived on Davis-Monthan AFB at that time. I used to ride my bike around the plane graveyard, and I saw the crews taking the wings off the mothballed bombers for photographing by the Soviet satellites with my own eyes. I lived that part of recent history in the first person. Frankly, you get results when you reach ordinary people. Why are the deniers so fearful of education?

It doesn't seem sustainable to expect people to remain terrified by such a disinterested, often benign -- it was so nice eating out on the patio! -- and even unpredictable enemy. (I understand we're the enemy, but the executioner is the weather.) Recall that the experts told us last year would be a record-setting hurricane season, but the series of Katrinas never materialized.

It doesn’t have to be perpetually sustainable. It just has to get the attention of most for a while and keep the attention of enough. Been involved in any political movements ever? My question is, is she really this obtuse, or is she playing at it? and just because last year wasn't worse than 2005 for hurricanes brings on a shrug and a "So? Do you have a point?"

Since I hate the heat, even I was alarmed by the recent headline: "NASA Warns of 110-Degrees for Atlanta, Chicago, DC in Summer." But I regained my cool when I realized the forecast was for close to the end of the century. Thanks to all the heat-mongering, it's supposed to be a sign I'm in denial because I refuse to trust a weather prediction for August 2080, when no one can offer me one for August 2008 (or 2007 for that matter).

Well, pardon me, but she is quite literally a joke for a living, and I am more inclined to take the findings of this study by the National Research Council, or this heavily sourced article available at RealClimate, or anything posted at Gristmill, or any position espoused by my peers at the Union of Concerned Scientists - than her “hunch" and a pinch of wishful thinking.

There is so much hubris in the certainty about the models of the future that I'm oddly reassured. We've seen how hubristic predictions about complicated, unpredictable events have a way of bringing the predictors low.

What the hell is she talking about? Examples, please. And cite your sources. I’m not saying she wouldn’t be able find any, I am saying it is incumbent upon her to do so, having made the allegation and I am not doing her homework for her.

It's also hard to believe assertions that the science on the future of our climate is settled when climate scientists can't agree about the present -- or the past (there is contention about the dates, causes and even the existence of the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age that followed). Now, Gore and others say that Katrina was a product of global warming and that we can expect more and bigger storms. But there is actually brisk scientific debate over the role global warming plays -- if any -- in the creation of hurricanes.

Who asserts this controversy, what are the sources of this claim? What are the credentials of the sources she elides to (but does not reference) that I should take them seriously? Where does the funding come from to conduct the studies she doesn't cite?

A study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution last month, looking at 5,000 years of Atlantic hurricanes, found "large and dramatic fluctuations in hurricane activity, with long stretches of frequent strikes punctuated by lulls that lasted many centuries" -- with the stormier periods occurring during cooler ocean temperatures. But talking about Earth's constant, and still inexplicable, climate changes and cycles is not useful if you're trying to shock.

Does she have a point? Of course fluctuations have always happened. (El Niño ring any bells?) Thermodynamics, Darlin' - when we achieve equilibrium, it's over. The simple, inconvenient truth is that the pendulum has already swung farther than it has ever been known to go before, and it is showing no sign of reaching the breaking point and heading back.

Of the last twenty years, nineteen of them have set high temperature records.

In his new book, "The Assault on Reason," Gore denounces what he sees as today's politics of fear. Yet his own campaign of mass persuasion -- any such campaign -- is not amenable to contradiction and uncertainty. It's about fright and absolutes. But just because something can be plotted on an X and Y axis does not make it the whole truth.

WHAT??? You will have to pardon me for a moment while I collect myself. I am educated, and I am scientifically literate. That last sentence? I can not get my brain to dumb down to a level of stupid to even mock that absurdity of this idiot child in so far over her head. That little polar bear only thought he was out of his depth.

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