Johnnie B. Byrd quotes from a 1997 book on black holes, in order to argue scientifically that limiting greenhouse gases will send us spiraling into "the vortex of an economic black hole" from which, obviously, we'll never escape, since you can't escape from black holes. You have to admit it's a sobering thought.
One of his concerns is that American workers will need to learn new things if they're to succeed in the coming economy, which you'd think would be pretty obvious even if global warming were a hoax. It used to be called progress, and we used to flatter ourselves that we produced more of it than the rest of the world, thanks to our firm belief that we could accomplish just about anything we set our minds to.
To be fair, a faint echo of this optimism does persist on the Right. Whether you're clawing your way out of poverty or democratizing the Middle East, the only obstacle that really counts is not wanting badly enough to succeed. If you don't have enough rational self-interest to thrive in a system that rewards nothing else, you have no one but yourself to blame.
That said, any attempt to mitigate climate change will leave us shivering in caves, and reduce the average American's lifespan to 28 years. It's just common sense.
For the record, Byrd has an even more basic grievance with the Warming Cult:
As a middle class American I don’t remember ever being lumped together with “wildlife"....Indeed. What manner of "scientist" would insult the God-given majesty of our lungs, or our circulatory systems, by lumping them together with those of other mammals? Does a badger comprehend Personal Responsibility? Do antelopes brood over the Law of Unintended Consequences? What then have their entrails to do with ours?
You've gotta love his scrupulous use of "middle class American," too. It's one thing to animalize the poor who clutter our nation's park benches and emergency rooms, but that won't do for Byrd. He's read Hayek.
Whatever else you want to say about Charles Krauthammer, he is not a climate denialist. In fact, he "believes instinctively that it can't be very good to pump lots of CO2 into the atmosphere." You'd think this would lead him, instinctively, to seek advice from people who know more about the matter than he does.
And perhaps it did, at one point. But what he heard disturbed him. It was...well, negative. Gloomy, even. It was liable to plant the seeds of self-doubt or guilt in otherwise innocent souls. And it presented the worst-case scenario as something to be avoided through responsible action, instead of promoting the best-case scenario as something to wait for in a spirit of perfect complacency. In short, it was alarmist.
Which is why he rejected it, and came to the cheerier conclusion that the commies are trying to destroy our Freedom.
Just as the ash heap of history beckoned, the intellectual left was handed the ultimate salvation: environmentalism. Now the experts will regulate your life not in the name of the proletariat or Fabian socialism but -- even better -- in the name of Earth itself.Having found the real narrative right where he last saw it, Krauthammer can get back to what really matters: protecting Western Civilization from annihilation, by instinctively supporting torture, indefinite detention, and the wholesale invasion of privacy.
Edward John Craig has a brainteaser for you:
The Center for Biodiversity — the outfit that sued to get the polar bear listed as an endangered species — is now trying to get the Pacific walrus similarly listed. The biggest threat to the walrus population? According to the Center, it’s shrinking sea ice (ta da!).OK. I know that a lot of these claims are cynical. I know that the goal isn't to score legitimate logical points, but to get as many arguments out there as possible, so that every sort of intellect can find reassurance that's tailored to its own weak points. And I also know that there are some Americans who view virtually any reference to the demonstrable facts of existence as an ugly symptom of Elitism. I didn't fall off the cabbage truck yesterday, nor the day before.
But, as Michelle Malkin suggests, perhaps it has more to do with the explosion in population of their principal predator, the polar bear.
But how fucking hard is it to understand that predation takes place in a specific physical environment that affects both predator and prey? I mean, putting aside the absurdity of calling the polar bears' tentative rebound an "explosion," how could any remotely sane or intelligent person believe that loss of habitat has no real bearing on the ultimate survival of a given animal, simply because that animal continues to be eaten by the natural predators who share its habitat?
For once, I'll end this feature on a somewhat positive note. Mona Charen, who's not exactly a climate alarmist, notices that her fellow conservatives have a tendency to "adopt an unbecoming, sometimes juvenile truculence" about environmental issues, which is certainly one way of putting it. And she advises them to ease up a bit.
Since when did conservatives decide that they love waste? There are thousands of energy-saving ideas in circulation that conservatives as well as liberals can embrace. Smaller cars and more trains are just one answer.Unfortunately, she spoils the effect somewhat by claiming, in regards to ANWR, that "those pictures we've all seen of moose and caribou against a backdrop of verdant mountains are a fraud. The coastal plain, where drilling is proposed, is flat, barren, and characterized by unforgiving permafrost."
First, Death Valley is flat and barren too, but some people consider it to be worth preserving anyway. Second, Charen seems to think that permafrost makes verdancy impossible. But as the US Fish and Wildlife Service points out:
If the soil never warmed up, there would be no plants growing in the arctic. When the summer sun warms the tundra surface, however, the top few inches of soil thaw. This melted part is called the active layer. Plant roots grow within the active layer, and insects burrow here.Still, Charen's plea for common sense does represent progress, however timid. We may yet go further, and fare better.
(Illustration: "The Calaveras of the Newscarriers" by Jose Posada, circa 1890.)