03 May 2014

Global warming and George Will's war on progressives.

Dear Mr. George Will,

You are a brilliant person. Certainly more intellectually gifted than my marshmallow brain. There is no person alive that has a more historically accurate understanding of baseball, which shows you have the capability to bring this yesteryear acumen to so many subjects. Unfortunately, you regularly waste your genius creating fictional straw man that serve no purpose but to falsely prove your pet notion of the day. Your latest scarecrow yanked out of Oz is "global warming" which you have dressed as nothing but an excuse for radical agendas by the crazy "socialists". Normally I would ignore your misguided nonsense to defer to the brilliant excerpts from Wrigley Field. Pretending you do not participate in political posturing is often the best way to keep your curve-ball thinking from overshadowing your finer points, but it is time to address your falsehoods.

First, George, no matter how brilliant you may be, you should avoid inventing new definitions. The Democrats are not a socialist party any more than Republicans are a group of fascists. Both notions are ludicrous radical associations to demean the opposition. China, Vietnam and Cuba are socialist countries, though even China is adopting capitalism where it suits them. There is not a single Democrat in Washington (even our POTUS) that is proposing that all construction and major industry in this country should be wholly owned by the feds.

Most of us in "the middle" will happily admit that there is barely any difference between our political parties. If you want truly diverse parties then look at so-called "third world" countries that are in radical turmoil. Or perhaps point to Great Britain with their entertaining governmental goulash. Historically, both parties have added significant spending. In fact, depending on how you cut the numbers, you might see that Republicans have added more to the national debt than their socialist nemesis. Even the evil Barack Obama has kept nearly every program his Republican predecessor started - in some cases, drastically enhancing them. Yes, you hate "Obama Care", the act invented by the blessed conservatives during the Clinton years and later put in action by Mitt Romney.

Your feigned concern that Democrats are the only ones who want major government programs also strikes out in the face of history and common sense. Do you advocate ending all police and fire departments? Eliminating the national defense? Eliminating our prisons and stop funding our farms? Close all public schools and stop paying social security and Medicare benefits? Heck, let's start by firing everyone in Washington and see where that gets us. (Actually, that idea sounds pretty good.) Yes, I am walking your reductio ad absurdum yellow brick road to burn your straw people without brains, but my point is that you cannot with one hand call the bad people socialists while you secretly covet your own favorite governmental meddling.

If we look back at history you can easily see that Republicans are as adept at adding new limbs to our bubbling budgetary booyah as anyone else. Whether it is Nixon's Environmental Protection Agency or George W. Bush's Homeland Security, they love to shop for your most hated portions of our country. Yes, Democrats might want more of some, less of others and are absolutely equally to "blame", but both sides have been greasing the ball.

You have been making these nonsensical accusations for as long as I can remember and I could have happily moved on without saying a word until this interview. When you start putting your mystical shenanigans as a defense for those unwilling to conserve energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, you are giving them yet more inaccurate fuel to their polluting fires.

Let us start with terminology. A better term would be "climate change". Much of the world will get much warmer but other parts will get cooler - at least for a while. Some will get more rainfall and others may get a nice Sahara. As we all know, predicting the weather for the next day is difficult for climatologists and it is especially problematic to determine exactly what will happen in each spot on our blue rock, but we do know what the planet was like the last time we enjoyed a super-sized carbon atmosphere and need look no further than Venus to see how trapping heat can make for a toasty terrain.

Just because we commercially exhale more than the trees can consume does not mean the planet will die. Far from it. Mother Earth will be here until our sun becomes a red giant and, frankly, might benefit from the upheaval in homosapien societies. What we have created is the next major species extinction, currently named "the Holocene extinction". While there will surely be many extinction events to come in the next four billion star rotations, this one is at least 95% owned by the human population and has the potential to make as big of an impact on our lives as a new Chicxulub crater.

You dismiss this as political posturing since "we've been through this before" when Newsweek published a story about global cooling. Those reports were pure media hullabaloo, though on a much smaller scale than WMD's in Iraq. The scientific community in the 70's had no consensus for what was happening to our climate. That is not the case today.

Saying that we might "waste several billion dollars of global growth on new models that might be wrong" is the same as saying "there is no need to plant crops because summer might never come". Technically both statements are absolutely true. We cannot predict our climate with 100% certainty. However, scientists can reach a consensus that something will occur and what is causing it.

There is not a single national or international scientific body that does not support these conclusions:
  • Our planet is warming.
  • Humans are the primary cause of this change in our climate.
  • Certain ecosystems will be dramatically impacted by this over the next hundred years.
Not a single one, Mr. Will. These changes are already in progress and we can either sit idly by and let them drown Miami and New York, or we could start to mitigate the damage and prepare.

I honor dissenting opinions and, thanks to the political architecture around this issue, there has been no shortage of them over the past 20 years. We were told this is all Al Gore fiction. That the climate is not changing. That humans are not the cause. That this is a natural change. That this will really not have a big impact. That there is nothing we can do about it anyway. It is great to be skeptical, but the science is in.

If a planet destroying asteroid were headed our direction and astronomers predicted an impact with 95% certainty, would you want to do anything about it? What if stopping the asteroid would cost billions of dollars? I mean - they could be wrong, right? It is just those silly scientists. What do they know?

Our honey-badger of a world does not give a shit whether you are on the left or right side of the Washington rainbow since the damage will touch all of us. If we do not become more efficient energy consumers and find ways to create flowing electrons without putting exhaust in the air, we will see significant change to this planet that will disrupt the world economy in ways we simply cannot predict.

Over the next century the human civilization will witness one of the most rapid changes to our environment in the history of this planet. We can embrace efficiency and move toward energy systems that do not cause global warming (nuclear, wind, solar, hydro) to avoid the worst case scenarios, or we can ignore it. We are making this choice for our children and grandchildren - not us. They are the ones that will enjoy the fruits of our conclusions. Choose wisely.

If you determine that you have no interest in spending a few bucks more on energy to help future generations, so be it. You're old - I get it. You have a fixed income and cannot afford to give more to the power company. I honor your decision. But, please. Stop saying stupid shit, George. You are too smart for that.