Thanks to airline points or credit card points or some type of accumulated points which were about to become obsolete, I now have a subscription to Time magazine.
Normally I would have let the points just go to “waste”, since I hate clutter (I think I may have mentioned this about a zillion times), and extraneous magazines definitely fall into that category. But as I have become increasingly house-bound, I have made some exceptions to what I have allowed into the house. So in has come Time magazine. Some of the stuff I read is interesting, and some is kind of crazy, but one article I read made me angry and incredulous and huffy and just itchy to blog.
The article, called The (Slow) Greening of America, by Michael Grunwald is a weird rambling rant about how Americans have failed to embrace the crisis of global warming, even though, according to Grunwald, “Really, the debate should be over.”
Grunwald is incredulous that “many Americans don’t believe it”. He talks about how this sets them apart from people in other countries (40% of Americans strongly agree the earth is getting warmer contrasted with 71% of Indians, for example). “On almost every question, Americans were the least likely to back the scientific consensus on climate…”
Now I should probably back up and tell you that this particular article appeared in the same issue of Time magazine whose cover story was that science has been wrong all these years when they have been telling people not to eat butter and other fats. Yes- holy science got things completely wrong and not only caused people to become fatter, but to become sicker as well. However, people who have been eating according not to the latest science fads but according to their traditional diets are healthy and fine. Hunh. That’s curious.
Other articles in the magazine similarly call into question whether science deserves to be put on quite the pedestal some would worship it on, or whether- just perhaps- science is lots of theory and guesswork and speculation and sometimes they get things right.
Whoa. Do I believe the Earth is flat? Do I not believe in GRAVITY???? Am I saying science is worthless??? What about MEDICINE, huh??????
Okay, calm down. Science has its place, as do taxes and board games and eating pizza. Everything in moderation. What I think is great is that Americans aren’t drinking the kool-aid as much as other people. To me, reading that other countries have higher rates of people who believe in man-made climate change tells me that they either have better propaganda, citizens who are more afraid to tell the truth about what they think, or a dumber populace.
Frankly, the debate about climate change is NOT over. The fact that it is now being referred to as “climate change” is proof of this- remember that is used to be “global warming” exclusively, until there was also a distinct lack of warming, and also some cooling, and also some unexplained weather phenomena- and voila!- now we discuss “climate change” as if that was always the issue at hand and we won’t remember that they have changed the playing field just so they can stay in the game…
There are credible scientists on both sides of the issue, and unless we allow for the possibility (I say there is often a probability) that science can be flat out wrong, then we are all just worshipping in a cult. Just because we call our cult by the name of “science” doesn’t make it any more unassailable or infallible than any other cult, and until we accept that science is sometimes not made up of the hard facts we think it is, and that it can be wrong at least as often as it is right, we are all just Michael Grunwalds flipping out because Americans dare to question the global climate change hysteria.
Any time you have a political issue, especially one where huge sums of money are involved, you will have people who are deeply invested in swaying your views about it. Is that a revelation? Is that subversive to say?
Do I think people should be responsible about how they live their lives on this planet? Sure I do. Do I feel a moral obligation to try not to trash the world I am leaving for my children and grandchildren? Of course. (This is one of those leading questions like when the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to your door and they ask you, “Do you want to protect the physical and mental health of your child?” Um, what are you gonna say- ‘No. Not so much…’?) The real question is, do I believe that by running my air conditioning that I am ruining the planet? Do I believe that if I use disposable diapers I have committed a grave atrocity? If I search my soul, do I truly believe that by using styrofoam once in a while, I am damaging ecosystems that won’t be able to recover?
And the honest answer, friends, is no.
I am someone who used to go through garbage to find those plastic rings that hold together 6-packs of soda and cut them apart so they wouldn’t trap wildlife scavenging in landfills (the only reason I don’t do this now is that I don’t buy soda in 6-packs). I recycled in Oak Park even though we didn’t have to, and even though we were allowed to have unlimited free garbage (but I had to pay extra for the extra recycling bins). I adopt animals rather than get them from breeders and reuse what I have whenever I can and I could list for you a gazillion ways that I do things to try to be a responsible citizen of the world.
But as far as man-made global warming i just don’t buy it. That’s not to say I don’t think you shouldn’t do what you think is right. If you want to make different decisions than I do go right ahead. That’s the beauty of living in a place where people are allowed to question things and decide for themselves. That’s why I’m proud of the 60% of Americans who didn’t strongly agree that the earth is getting warmer. To agree with a fact is to think it is correct. To strongly agree is to take something out of the realm of fact and put it into the realm of religious fervor, and that has no place in honest debate. This planet is in flux, no doubt. Depending on how you ask a survey question, you can get just about any answer you want. There have been natural cycles of heating and cooling and storming and weather things since forever.
When I was in middle school there was a popular button to wear (did I just date myself or what???) that said Question Authority. Back then it was more of a teenage rebellious attitude thing to wear it and be in the face of teachers and parents and sort of flip them off. But I think it’s time to bring that back. For some reason too many people have forgotten that it’s a good idea from time to time to revisit our younger selves and ask “Why?” and then ask “Why?” again. At a certain age we seem to have replaced curiosity with convenience, and I think we are all going to pay a very dear price for that shortcut…