American Elephants


Did you turn your lights off? Why? by The Elephant's Child

Last night at the appointed hour (8:00 pm local time, “Global Hour” — see “The NUPs Strike Again!” below) I turned on all the lights and looked out the window. I was appalled. The neighbors just below had their porch lights on, but across the valley it was a sea of darkness. Surely I couldn’t be living in such a sea of greenies. Then I realized that I wasn’t. It was snowing, and I couldn’t see across the valley.

The NUPs (naive urban people) had thought to make some important environmental point by turning off the world’s lights for one hour. I am unsure of what the point was. World Jump Day‘s purpose was a little clearer –if everyone in the world jumped at the same time, it would alter the orbit of the earth slightly and improve something or other. I’m not much on candlelight vigils or marches with big puppets either. I suspect that the time involved could be better spent reading up on the problem that is of such concern.

The problem is that if the concern is “global warming” or “global cooling” or even the revised formulation “climate change”, the implication is that there is some right temperature from which variation is a worrisome thing. Which is clearly nonsense. I’m personally in favor of something ranging from 70° to 78°, but I have skiers in the family.

It is worth noting that true believers, such as Al Gore, will not tolerate disagreement. In a preview clip from his coming appearance on 60Minutes this week, he refers to climate skeptics as “few” and “flat-earth people”. And this is typical. Just mention NASA’s Aqua satellite and note the blank stares or rude language that ensues. Bjorn Lomborg, author of the splendid The Skeptical Environmentalist, has been the recipient of attacks almost as violent as those visited upon the publication of the Danish cartoons. Lomborg, a professor of statistics, merely took official government statistics and explained clearly what they indicated.

It is very worth following up on the previous link, and reading the whole thing. This paragraph is especially worth remembering:

Well-meaning intellectual movements, from communism to post-structuralism, have a poor history of absorbing inconvenient fact or challenges to fundamental precepts. We should not ignore or suppress good indicators on the environment, though they have become extremely rare now. It is tempting to the layman to embrace with enthusiasm the latest bleak scenario because it fits the darkness of our soul, the prevailing cultural pessimism. The imagination, as Wallace Stevens once said, is always at the end of an era. But we should be asking, or expecting others to ask, for the provenance of the data, the assumptions fed into the computer model, the response of the peer review community, and so on. Pessimism is intellectually delicious, even thrilling, but the matter before us is too serious for mere self-pleasuring.




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