Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Earth Day Plus 1

The late Senator Eugene McCarthy liked to say that everything he knew about politics he'd learned on the farm, from taking care of the cows and pigs. You see, cows are by nature large, solitary, and stolid creatures, who don't like to move if they don't have to. Ergo the secret of getting cows to move is not to try to get the whole herd going at once, but rather to identify the dominant steer and get him moving. Once the dominant steer moves, especially if he seems to know where he's going, the rest of the herd quickly follows.

Pigs, on the other hand, are selfish and greedy creatures who could care less what the other pigs are doing, as long as they can root around in the muck and find what they want. Ergo the secret of getting pigs to move is to startle, panic, and stampede them, and get them up and running in the direction you want them to go before they have time to think about it. While stampeding pigs works well, though, you should never deliberately try to stampede the cows, as that can quickly turn unpredictable and very dangerous.

Therefore, according to Senator McCarthy, the entire secret to success in politics is to always remember that Senators are cows, and Congressmen are pigs.

As we discuss global warming, it's important to remember that the science is by no means as cut and dried and the scientific consensus nowhere near as unanimous as Mr. Gore makes it sound in his little agitprop filmstrip. I have spoken with scientists who feel that the case for human-caused global warming is completely proven. I have spoken with other scientists who feel the whole idea is a load of dingo's bollocks. And I have spoken with yet other scientists who agree with the first group that a climate shift may be in progress, but believe the cause is very much open to debate and we should tread very carefully before attributing this change solely to the actions of humans.

Which, after all, is what the whole debate is really about: that it is human activity that is causing global climate change, and therefore it is human activity that needs to be legislated, regulated, and otherwise removed from the sphere of free will and handed over to the control those same brilliant social engineering philosopher-kings who have given us so many of the other hideous atrocities of recent history.

History is key. I have read history, and spoken with historians, who point out that climate change is continuously intertwined with the history of our species. Ancient cities were forever being built and abandoned because of changes in weather patterns: consider Petra, or Mesa Verde. Two thousand years ago the Romans kept meticulous records of the quality and quantity of the wine grape harvests in England, although until recent decades it's been far too cold for viticulture in that land. One thousand years ago the Vikings named a certain glacier-covered island "Greenland," because it was green when they discovered it. In 1975, in his history, The Celts, Gerhard Herm wrote:
In the second half of the fifteenth century BC the whole world experienced a series of disasters such as has never since been recorded. It began with a fall in the water-table to seven metres, with the result that springs dried up, rivers became trickles, bogs stopped growing. This drought was preceded by a climatic optimum that went on for thousands of years with long summers and mild winters. This had also produced long periods of drought, as for instance just before the Kurgan people's withdrawal from the Caspian area. But in general it must have been warmer in Europe after about 5000 BC than at any time before or since in the past twelve thousand years. Vines grew in southern Norway, the whole of Scandanavia lived in the shadow of mixed and deciduous forest, there were glaciers only in the extreme north. These times are probably recalled in the Greek saga of Phaeton[...]

In his Metamorphoses, a history of the world from its beginnings until his own day, the Roman poet Ovid describes the same event in a less allegorical fashion. He maintains that not only the Rhine, Danube, and Rhone were dried up, but also the Nile, Euphrates, Don, and Ganges: in other words, it was a worldwide disaster. His remarks seem to be borne out by the fact that Libya, until then covered by savannah, became a desert. Herotodus relates that at that time there was a famine in Anatolia that forced the Lydian king Attys to send half of his people to the land of the 'Umbricians' (Umbrians), i.e., to Italy.

I've spoken with historians. I've spoken with scientists. I've spoken with journalists, who always know far less than they imagine they do, and politicians, who make the journalists look brilliant by comparison. Most disturbingly I've spoken with scientist-administrators, who are largely either ex-scientists who've been Peter Principled out of actual science or people with advanced degrees in public administration and no actual science education at all. The one consistent thing I've found among nearly all the most vocal proponents of human-caused global warming theory is that they don't actually believe in everything they're saying: they're perfectly willing to exaggerate the case and indulge in hyperbole if it helps them to stampede the pigs.

Because, after all, in a world where only Big Government can afford to fund Big Science, it's the pigs who control the collective purse. be continued...