Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Losing the Plot

Some ideas are so stupid that they can prevent you from realizing how stupid they actually are.

Normally, I dismiss out of hand the idea of a multi-decade international socialist plot to convince people that a) CO2 is a greenhouse gas; and b) there's no magical force field that prevents local emissions from having a cumulative global effect. But perhaps it'd be worthwhile to assume, for a moment, that the conspiracy theory is true.

What has this enormous, well-regimented cabal accomplished since 1991, when an NAS panel claimed that "greenhouse warming poses a potential threat sufficient to merit prompt responses"?

Not much, I'm afraid. It scored a bit of a coup by getting Algore, the inventor of global warming, into the White House for eight years. But its hopes were dashed when the Clinton administration passed virtually no meaningful climate legislation. It didn't cap emissions, nor did it ratify the Kyoto Protocol. It had a perfect excuse for authoritarian overreaching delivered to its doorstep on a silver platter, and it couldn't even be bothered to issue an imperial edict banning wood stoves or gas-powered leaf blowers or SUVs.

More to the point, the Warming Cult hasn't even managed to impose an understanding of the basic facts on the American public. And I'm not talking about the "fact" of AGW, by any means; I'm talking about elementary matters like the difference between weather and climate, or the fact that North America's winter is Australia's summer, or any other grade-school knowledge that would give the average citizen a fighting chance of understanding the issue at hand.

If we had a really effective global conspiracy, the latest effort by conservative pundits to establish the proposition that it's winter in America would've been met with gales of laughter and a blizzard of pink slips. Instead, an untold number of Americans nodded sagely when presented with clear proof that seasons exist, and felt themselves superior to all the scientists whose blinders force them to overlook the really salient issues:

Echoing a Drudge Report headline from the previous day that read, " 'Largest public protest of global warming' ever in USA faces DC March snowstorm!" Fox News hosts Neil Cavuto, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity each suggested on March 2 that, in Cavuto's words, a "massive snowstorm," which recently hit the East Coast, calls into question the scientific consensus on "global warming."
Media Matters goes on to explain, dutifully, that weather is not climate. What they fail to mention is that local weather is not national weather; it was sunny and warm in many parts of the country on March 2, and severe to exceptional drought conditions continue in California, the South, and elsewhere. They also don't mention that national weather isn't global weather. (It's supposed to hit 91°F in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow...in winter, no less! Maybe Algore is on to something!)

Trillion of dollars are at stake in this conspiracy, as well as the right to rule the globe with an iron fist. And yet the entire well-laid plot is in danger of unraveling, because no one thought to remind the average American citizen that it can be cold in one place and hot in another at the very same time.

I'm being flippant, of course. But this is actually a real problem. There are plenty of people, on the left particularly, who simply expect everyone to kowtow to scientific authority whether they understand its simplest concepts or not. Honest confusion ends up getting ridiculed, with the result that people become resentful and dig in their heels. Never mind AGW for a moment; the fact that Beck and Hannity can spout peabrained gibberish like this and be applauded for it would be tragic even if there were nothing more serious at stake than people's rudimentary understanding of the world in which they live.

If the idea of AGW as an elitist plot is so appealing to so many Americans, maybe it's partially because so many people who actually do understand the issues enjoy feeling superior to those who don't. If so, that's kind of obnoxious, given that people on the left ought to be aware of the forces that have crippled our educational system, instead of simply blaming the victims.

Blaming Hannity and Beck would be acceptable, natch, as would launching them headlong into the sun. But I'm sorry to say that the Warming Cult has tended thusfar to coddle dissenters. Nonconforming scientists should be languishing in a new Gulag as we speak. Instead, they wax fat and sassy, secure in the knowledge that a single sentence from them outweighs the official position of every major scientific organization on earth. In essence, their oppression is of the type that a diner at Citronelle suffers when asked to extinguish his Gurkha Black Dragon.

Worse, even though the media is owned and operated by eco-socialist one-worlders who know that doomsday predictions sell papers, conservative politicians who deny AGW enjoy instant access to a respectful, if not fawning, MSM, while a conservative politician who calls Rush Limbaugh "incendiary" is obliged to issue an immediate self-criticism.

This amounts to doing things exactly backwards, in my view; it's no wonder our cardboard-grey dystopia is so many years behind schedule.

Meanwhile, power-drunk communist madmen control China, North Korea, and Venezuela, and all we got was this lousy increase in emissions. And the People's Republic of Canuckistan has decided that exploiting Alberta's tar sands is more exciting than destroying capitalism.

I could go on, but you get the idea. As diabolical socialist plots go, this whole thing is a bit of a washout, and we'll be lucky if we're reduced to shivering in moss-lined caves by 2050.

1 comment:

Jazzbumpa said...

I spent some time the other night reading the comments to this Discover critique of George Will's recent amazingly insightful expose of the ridiculous AWG fallacy; though I don't recall Will mentioning an actual conspiracy, possibly because I fell asleep midway through the second paragraph.

The commentors on the two sides (amazingly, there are two sides) of this issue talk past, through, and around each other; devolve quickly into ridicule; and only narrowly avoid actual name-calling.

This is one of those technical questions that ought to have a science-based answer. But, instead, almost everyone's position is firmly lodged in his location on the political spectrum.

Are global temperatures increasing? Is polar ice diminishing? Are there hundreds of new islands in the Arctic Ocean revealed by sea-ice recession? Has glaciation disappeared from the peaks of tropical mountains? Has the glacier in Glacier National Park lost 75% of its volume? I've heard the answers to all of these is yes. Maybe I'm a gullible chump.

I've also read that solar flare and sun spot activity, which the denialists claim is responsible for global warming observations, has actually been down the last decade or so. Maybe the sun is part of the conspiracy.