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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Earth to America

I recorded the comedy special Earth to America, and just actually watched it. I didn’t realize it was special themed after global warming when I recorded it. I just knew that Jack Black, Blue Man Group, Cedric the Entertainer, Tim McGraw, Tom Hanks, and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog were in it, so I recorded it and watched it.

Before I go off on my rant I want to make one thing very clear. It does not bother me at all that this huge batch of celebrities were trying to raise awareness of global warming. For one, I don’t expect celebrities to know science anyway, and for seconds, they are funny and talented artists that I enjoy in that capacity.

There are some who just ticked me off though.

Let’s start with Bill Maher, shall we? The most glaringly false thing this moron went off on was the oxygen content of the atmosphere. He said “once the atmosphere was made up of 19% oxygen, now it is only 9% oxygen.” He, of course, blamed humanity in general, and Republicans and President Bush specifically for this tragedy. Sounds bad too, don’t it? There’s just one problem. If this were actually true we would all be dead right now. Very few aerobic life forms can survive prolonged exposure to such a tiny level of oxygen. Man starts to experience distress at 16% oxygen, and dies before 9% is reached. The real fact is that the Oxygen levels are stable at 18%-20% just like they have been since the dinosaurs walked the Earth.

He went on to waste our depleted oxygen blabbing on about how it’s all the evil corporation’s faults and how evil Republicans don’t care enough to do anything about it. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

This being a show about global warming Bobby Kennedy Jr. just HAD to be featured so he could spout off on his brand of eco-lunacy. You may remember him as the guy who said Hurricane Katrina was President Bush’s fault because he pulled the US out of the Kyoto Protocol.

His bit was a fake interview with Martin Short playing a nervous, deceitful, and environmentally bigoted attorney for the oil industry. I shall summarize the gist of his whole argument for you thusly: YOU EVIL BASTARDS! YOU ARE SINGLE-HANDEDLY KILLING US ALL! As you can see, he is quite the communicator. He blames the oil industry for forcing the world to be dependent on them and stifling innovation that would make cars more fuel efficient. The end result in his estimation is a global warming trend that is sure to be the end of the world.

These people obviously have no paloegeography in their education portfolios. I do however, so allow me to insert some horribly evil science into all of this lunacy.

There are periods in the Earth’s history where there were no polar ice caps, the arctic tundra was warm enough for temperate plant species to grow, Antarctica was a temperate paradise, and the US was a fetid jungle. As you can imagine, the world was quite warm, and shockingly, all life was not wiped out, and the world didn’t come to an end. At the same time there have been periods when the polar ice caps extended as far south as Ohio, and as far north as Peru. Surprisingly enough, the world didn’t end then either.

Climate change is constant, as is proven by micro-paleontology and Antarctic ice cores. There are fluctuations in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, and fluctuations in temperature that do not always coincide with what the carbon dioxide levels said it should be. The only thing that is certain is that the climate is changing, and will continue to change no matter what we do to try and stop it.

Finally, not all change is bad. People are having this knee-jerk reaction to 6,000 year long global warming trend as if it were something new, and are scurrying around like rats trying to stop this natural process. It’s a futile battle, and they are scaring people and wasting money by fighting it.

This is not to say that better fuel economy isn’t something we should strive for. And it definitely isn’t to say that clean energy research should stop, or that cleaner manufacturing technologies shouldn’t be created. I’m all for them, but for the sake of conserving limited resources and keeping actual poisons out of the air and water as much as possible. I’m far more concerned about high mercury levels in the fish that I eat than I am about global warming.

This is to say that we need to toss out the junk science and propaganda lies that are being used to convince people we’re all gonna die if we don’t do something RIGHT NOW! This crap is doing us all a disservice.

21 Comments:

  • If you actually made it through the thing, my imaginary hat is off to you. I was bored to tears, and I think switched the thing off within the first half hour.

    By Blogger catastrophile, at 6:06 PM  

  • I was lucky. I didn't even know the show was on.

    Very well written RC. Any light that can illuminate the darkness of the global warming nonsense is a welcome beam. If the MSM had been honest in this and done some research, it would all have been dropped long before now. Of course headlines or leading news stories that say "Everything's pretty good" don't get ratings.

    By Blogger Fish, at 6:25 PM  

  • Excellent RC.. don't let the enviro wingnuts suck you guys in. It's just a socialist/marxist agenda for a wealth transfer. Didn't see the show either... thank god...

    By Blogger ABFreedom, at 6:43 PM  

  • I would have to say the possible deteriorating enviorment is way down on my list of priorities. I hear what their saying I'm just not sure if what I hear is what they mean to be saying. Cause it sounds to me like the BIGGEST problem with the enviorment is there are too many freaking people on this planet. I'm not sure that's something we can fix without some seriously dangerous ethical violations.
    No doubt global warming is a problem. As is our growing (instead of decreasing) dependence on oil. But, lets be realistic. Chances are we'll all kill each other off before planet earth gives up the ghost.

    By Blogger wanda, at 7:37 PM  

  • Man will never distroy the Earth.

    The Earth will just shake man off the a BAD cancer and recycle, it's called an eco-system.

    It's man we have to worry about distroying, not the Earth.

    Like George Carlin once said, "Long after all humans are gone, the Earth will take all the plastic and turn it into a plant".

    By Blogger Ranando, at 7:57 PM  

  • Like a BAD Cancer, sorry.

    By Blogger Ranando, at 7:59 PM  

  • This has to be the one issue where I really don't understand the conservative mindset. There is no downside to limiting or eliminating the use of fossil fuels. It gets us a cleaner environment, less dependency on Middle Eastern oil, expanding technology and industry, and so on. There is no upside to pretending that mankind has no effect on global warming. But even if it is all "eco-lunacy", why not err on the side of caution? Yes, some companies will have to spend some money to re-align to a new energy paradigm. However, shouldn't businesses have a little civic responsibility to go along with the massive tax advantages they receive? Who should be dictating public policy: the people or corporate interests?

    I think it's just resistance to change. Conservatives refuse to accept man's role in global warming because they might have to change their lifestyle a little if they did. Pathetic.

    By Blogger Samurai Sam, at 8:33 AM  

  • Sam,

    You are mistaken. The conservative view on global warming is to follow good science instead of junk science and misinformed hype. Europe has gone the opposite way and it it's economy is steadily degrading.

    Conservatives take more measures that actually work to preserve the envioronment than liberals do. The difference is we study first , then act, while the liberalls react in some kneee-jerk reaction to every possible environmental calamity out there and, rather than demanding clean-up and research into preservation, they demand the closure of whatever they imagine to be the culprit. Much of the time they place blame wrongly.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 9:03 AM  

  • How could global warming be blamed on the US economy, anyway (if there were such a thing, which I doubt!). look at HISTORY!! this happened long before there were people anywhere on earth...who did it then? dinosaur farts? and, isn't china using a lot more energy than ever? why isn't it their fault?
    LibbY!

    By Blogger Libby, at 9:16 AM  

  • Global warming is junk science and it is ridiculous that it is still being taken so seriously. I like a lot of comedians but I have never found Bill Maher funny.

    By Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox, at 9:17 AM  

  • I'm with Sam on this: There is no downside to weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels. And even if humanity's impact upon climatic change is questionable, it IS questionable. It is being studied seriously.

    Some of those studies may have reached dubious conclusions (I'm not science-oriented enough to know) and some may not, but it seems wise to study are effects. After all, I may not be a science wiz, but I can understand that, if I can't safely eat catfish out of the Ohio River, humanity IS having an effect on the eco-system.

    Aside from the environmental impact issues, there are the justice/personal responsibility issues.

    Why can I not throw my garbage in to my neighbor's yard? Because it is wrong and personally irresponsible to do so.

    How is throwing garbage in my neighbor's air different than his yard?

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 9:59 AM  

  • I quit worrying after Puffy said vote or die.
    Everyone made it!

    Global warmng is occuring on Mars, too.

    I'm not astrophysicist, but maybe global warming and cooling has something to do with THE SUN!

    Just a thought....

    Great post BTW, Daniel.

    By Blogger The Conservative UAW Guy, at 10:32 AM  

  • We know that global warming is happening. We know that human activity is contributing to it.

    What we don't know, and can never know for certain, is the precise degree to which we are contributing to the process, because we can never effectively gauge total CO2 emissions from all sources on the planet, divide them into natural and man-made, and then factor in the impact of the loss of plant life. It's a complex and massive equation.

    Polluters and other advocates of doing nothing like to insist that every unknown in that equation must be determined before we decide on a course of action -- which is just a politically-correct way of saying that we should do nothing. Advocates of acting on what we know are in favor of determining the amount of carbon we're spewing and finding ways to counteract it -- either by reducing emissions or by installing "carbon sinks" -- a.k.a. "trees." This is the relatively uncontroversial goal of the Kyoto Protocol, bemoaned by Reeps and polluters alike as the end of the freakin' world for some reason.

    They also grab onto certain fluctuations over the span of data collection -- some due to improvements in sensor accuracy, some due to the occasional counterintuitive consequence, such as an advancing glacier -- and use them to muddy the waters further.

    They then go on to advance lots of alternative theories, with little to back them up other than industry money. For example, the claim in Michael Crichton's State of Fear that much of global warming might simply be a consequence of increased heat retention in developed areas -- pavement gets hotter than grass in the sun -- seems compelling, until you realize that the claim is actually just conjecture that scientists might not have compensated enough for this phenomenon.

    On this issue, I'm not seeing a lot of conservative research. The goal seems to be to find or create holes in global warming research and use them to claim that there's no problem, and therefore no remedy is required.

    By Blogger catastrophile, at 12:05 PM  

  • [Libby] "isn't china using a lot more energy than ever? why isn't it their fault?"

    If you look at the economies of China and the US, Libby, you will find that even though China has a billion people more than the US, more than four times the population, it consumes far less in absolute terms than does the US. The US consumes 2.4 times the electricity, 4 times the oil and 22 times the natural gas that China does. If you look at this on a per capita basis, it's even worse. Every person in the US consumes 10 times the electricity, 17 times the oil and 95 times the natural gas that a person in China does. And don't think that this is because the US produces a lot more for the rest of the world than China does, it doesn't. The US only exports 36% more than China in dollar terms.

    Why are many US citizens such profligate consumers? As Sam says, it's because of their culture. They have a God-given, inalienable right—a freedom, if you like—to indulge their lifestyle, to consume as much as they wish, and Heaven help anyone who tries to abridge that right. I doubt that they will change this attitude until peak oil or some other rapid-onset crisis forces them to and it will be a rude awakening indeed when that time comes.

    By Anonymous cjb, at 1:34 PM  

  • Fact is carbon sink is malarky. When a tree (or any plant) dies and decays, the bacteria doing the decaying release the same carbon back into the air via c02. That is why burning wood is a net zero. The same amount of c02 is released into the atmosphere that the tree took. from it. Works the same way on fish, animal carcasses, plankton, etc.

    It's called entropy. Look into it.
    The planet goes through cyclical self regulation.

    By Blogger Uranttilly, at 12:33 AM  

  • I continue to await for a conservative response to the conservative notion of personal responsibility as it pertains to pollution.

    I believe the science. I think it is obvious humanity impacts the environment. To what degree is unclear but we inarguably impact the environment.

    BUT aside from that, pollution is a matter of personal responsibility and I would think conservatives of all people would be behind that idea, IF they were true to their ideals.

    Well?

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 6:02 AM  

  • Dan,

    The response is long. It will come as an individual post.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 8:41 AM  

  • "burning wood is a net zero."

    That's sort of like saying that dropping a bomb is a net zero, since all you're doing is reclaiming the kinetic energy you invested in elevating the thing, and then restoring its constituents to more stable states by combining them with oxygen. Therefore, nothing has actually happened, right?

    Sure, over the life of a tree it might measure out to zero, but the life of a tree can be a very. Long. Time.

    By Blogger catastrophile, at 1:19 PM  

  • The best "carbon sinks" are not reres. They are grasses and aquatic algae. Grasses build soils by leaving a tremendous amount of organic material (roots = 50% or more of total plant mass) in the soil. Aquatic algae is transfered into silt.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 2:34 PM  

  • *not trees*

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 2:34 PM  

  • [Blogula] That is why burning wood is a net zero. The same amount of c02 is released into the atmosphere that the tree took. from it. Works the same way on fish, animal carcasses, plankton, etc.

    Really? So, if this is true, then burning coal and oil is a net zero as well. After all, coal was once wood and oil was once tiny sea creatures.

    It may be a net zero in the time scale of the Earth’s entire existence, but that doesn’t mean the short-term consequences are neutral or benign.

    And, no, this isn’t entropy. Look further into it.

    By Anonymous cjb, at 2:39 PM  

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