Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sad and Frustrating

Like Sweet Alice, I weep with delight when Peggy Noonan gives me a smile, and tremble with fear at her frown. Today, my trembling is probably detectable by seismographs halfway around the world:

During the past week's heat wave--it hit 100 degrees in New York City Monday--I got thinking, again, of how sad and frustrating it is that the world's greatest scientists cannot gather, discuss the question of global warming, pore over all the data from every angle, study meteorological patterns and temperature histories, and come to a believable conclusion on these questions: Is global warming real or not?
Alright, then. The fate of the globe, it seems, hinges on making climate change sound plausible to Peggy Noonan. Given that Noonan believes God shattered her coffee cup one fine morning, in order to teach her some obscure lesson about the rosary, you might conclude that she’s pretty generous with her credulity. But apparently, the six impossible things that Noonan routinely believes before breakfast leave no room for the confirmed and reconfirmed findings of a supermajority of the world’s climate experts (including BushCo’s own Federal Climate Change Science Program).

And that’s not all:
If it is real, is it necessarily dangerous? What exactly are the dangers? Is global warming as dangerous as, say, global cooling would be? Are we better off with an Earth that is getting hotter or, what with the modern realities of heating homes and offices, and the world energy crisis, and the need to conserve, does global heating have, in fact, some potential side benefits, and can those benefits be broadened and deepened?
I’m hoping God Himself will deign once again to answer Noonan’s questions - preferably by smiting her with lobster-sized pubic lice - because no mere mortal is going to make any headway against ignorance as proud and giddy as hers.

These days, climate-change denialists love to remind us that being cold is uncomfortable and dangerous, while being warm is pleasant. Remember the awful sufferings of Captain Scott and his men? If the world had been only a few degrees warmer, none of it would’ve happened. They could’ve ridden motorcycles to the South Pole, played a few rounds of Canasta, had a nice lunch of breadfruit and mangoes, and been back at their base camp by nightfall.

Never mind that Europe’s recent heat wave killed 35,000 people. Who wouldn’t like to have fewer cold days per year, what with the high price of heating oil?

Of course, arguing over whether warming is “better” than cooling boils down to an admission that you don’t understand the first goddamn thing about climate change. That doesn’t stop Noonan from whimpering that the world’s scientists have failed to convince her, though…and not because she’s unwilling to meet them halfway by comprehending that heat is a form of energy, but because they’re “politicized” (and not in a good way, like her):
All too many of them could be expected to enter this work not as seekers for truth but agents for a point of view who are eager to use whatever data can be agreed upon to buttress their point of view.
Yep. It’s all a vast and terrible conspiracy to misrepresent data for personal gain, uncovered by an intrepid woman who used the datum of a shattered coffee cup to flatter herself with God’s attention and – just possibly – bolster her appalling self-conceit.

Here’s the punchline:
If global warming is real, and if it is new, and if it is caused not by nature and her cycles but man and his rapacity, and if it in fact endangers mankind, scientists will probably one day blame The People for doing nothing.

But I think The People will have a greater claim to blame the scientists, for refusing to be honest, for operating in cliques and holding to ideologies. For failing to be trustworthy.
On the contrary, I think scientists and “The People” will blame money-addled politicians and business leaders, along with invincibly ignorant toadies like Peggy Noonan.

Hell, a lot of us already do.


Anonymous said...

Oh, it needs to be believable. Because the seriously mentally ill Peggy Noonan doesn't believe in global warming, it isn't real? Right.

Engineer-Poet said...

Peggy Noonan is typical of many mouthpieces:  push the facts under the rug and give primacy to what you find personally (or financially) credible or desirable, regardless of your ignorance.

Sadly, she's far from alone.  This is the standard in this anti-intellectual USA, and the left engages with it ("other ways of knowing") as much as the right.

Phila said...

This is the standard in this anti-intellectual USA, and the left engages with it ("other ways of knowing") as much as the right.

No argument from me! That said, I'll worry more about the left's misconceptions when they're able to define and control the terms of debate (to say nothing of three branches of government, most of the media, and most American industry and business). Because right now, whether you're right or wrong doesn't much matter, in practical terms.