It takes a spot of courage to stand up tall and a bit of derring-do to rise when you fall

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Long and Rambling, Boring Diatribe Regarding That Offensive Subject of Global Warming

I will likely regret bringing this up, and I'm disappointed in advance that it will be considered a "political" post because it's anything but that. This subject isn't important enough to raise anyone's ire, to make someone's head explode, etc. But this is merely, simply, an honest curiosity I have. I'm increasingly fascinated by a common thread of thought regarding global warming. Right now it's unusually cold in many places, it's snowing in strange and crazy places---New Orleans, Houston, etc.---and it's just COLD, right? So over and over I hear or read the comment, "Where's the global warming??" Often this is accompanied by a healthy dose of snickering. Which, like I said, I find fascinating. Also, in my initial ignorance, I didn't realize the bodies of thought are neatly split down political lines: Left believes; Right mocks. Those seem to be the two main players. I imagine there are plenty who trickle in somewhere in between on either side.

Here are some of the intriguing parts to me:

1) I don't remember anyone ever saying that global warming means we're all going to be dying of heat. As I understand it--correct me if I'm wrong--global warming refers to climate change. It increases extreme weather events: hot, cold, rain, snow, tornado, hurricane, etc. Global warming is about climate sensitivity and weather changes, etc.; not: "no one's ever going to need a coat again."

2) Why are some people so violently opposed to the idea of global warming? It's like a personal offense against them, as though the entire world is saying in a loud and ominous, booming voice: "It's YOUR fault that this is happening. YOU ALONE are responsible." Why does this evoke such a visceral reaction?

3) Why is it so hard to imagine that years and years of pollution could have had an adverse effect on our environment? Why is it so crazy to imagine that we as humans and inhabitants of this earth could possibly have contributed to a less-than-stellar environment? Is it so unreasonable to think, "Wow, hey, it looks like there's a possibility that some damage has been done to good ole Mother Earth and some of it can possibly be attributed to (*gasp*) humans, so hey---let's all pitch in a little and alter our routines slightly and see if we can maybe undo some of this, or at least not continue to make it worse"?? Is that really so far-out there? Is it really so Al Gore? Can't it just be we're-all-in-this-together?

4) And if there's absolutely no such thing, is it really so bad to try to be more environmentally-friendly anyway? I know that there are dollar signs involved, and that's what makes a lot of people mad. Especially if you don't believe there IS such a thing as global warming, it seems like throwing money away. But I guess I can't figure out how it's such a far-out idea that maybe pollution is bad and maybe we should try to breathe cleaner air. Just as one example.

So I'm a bit confused. I'm always somewhat taken aback by the complete derision I sometimes hear regarding global warming---and I understand now, I understand that it's mostly political. I guess I get it. But seriously. Isn't it a tiny bit like maybe burying our heads in the sand? Maybe? I mean, what if (a wee wee tiny possibility, I know), what if it's...........

true?

30 Comments:

Anonymous Grandma said...

well, maybe if we get a good hot argument going, we will warm up anyway!

10:50 PM, December 15, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

I suppose so...I feel no heat about it; only curiosity, I guess, and some bemusement.

10:54 PM, December 15, 2008

 
Blogger si said...

you, jay are, are one hecka smart and sensible person! i had refrained from posting politically on bryan's blog before the election but i had admired what you had posted, and agreed with you. and, i again totally agree with you on this "diatribe" (not a diatribe to me, of course!).

the only "heat" i feel is when there are comments that *it* is made up by the liberal left. there are some folks in my office that strongly believe this. and, you're right, it is apparently a political side. i don't get it either.

sorry, if this comment may have "fueled" any more *heat*!! :-)

1:02 PM, December 16, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

thanks, si....nice to not be alone :) and again, no offense intended by the post to those who don't agree (probably most of the people I know! ha!) Just one of those things that's interesting to hear where people are coming from.

2:37 PM, December 16, 2008

 
Blogger prrrof said...

Funny you should mention this--serendipitous, actually. I'm reading an interesting book: _True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society_. I'm not too far in, but the basic premise is that it's not only opinions or perspectives that are disagreed upon anymore, but *facts*.
Paraphrase from p.23: in 2004, a review of 928 studies related to climate change in peer reviewed scientific journals found that "not a single one disagreed with the consensus view about global warming" (ie, that it exists). However, only 41% of Americans "think there's solid evidence that humans are changing the Earth's climate" (23).

Great post here!

7:21 PM, December 16, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

That is so interesting, prof. What I find interesting is that there will be jumping up and down about the "facts" proving it DOESN'T exist. In fact, Michael Crichton---scientist that he is (was)---wrote a book or something debunking the whole MYTH of global warming, so...there ya go. At some point it just seems like common sense, but what do I know. That sounds like an interesting book...

8:32 PM, December 16, 2008

 
Anonymous Grandma said...

I have no doubt there is global warming but 'they' say we have records only for a mere few hundred years. Maybe this is cyclic; happens every few thousand years? Would God create this big world and then say "oops! I'm letting man destroy it." Nah. He will do that Himself when He is ready. (now watch the agnostics come on board.)

12:04 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

I don't have problem believing that God wouldn't let man destroy His creation. But I'm absolutely 100% positive that man can make his own existence an absolute misery and nightmare because of not taking care of the gift of this great creation, and that that would be just desserts.

12:30 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Anonymous grandma said...

I think most of us try to 'keep the rivers clean' and keep our car running 'clean' and recycle our trash. What else can we do?
The book Jay Are mentions is: "State of Fear" and very enlightening. Give it a read, if you can. It would behoove us to do all we can to keep our own environment healthy, but not let unnecessary angst burden us down, but that is just an opinion.

2:58 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

I think there are lots of things to do, lots of programs and activities out there available for people to get active in depending on their level of interest. Some will be interested, some won't be. Some people don't care because they're not going to be here in 50 years or 100 years, so why should they worry? I hear that response sometimes. Hmmm. For sure I don't think people should lie awake and worry about the sky falling--not any point in that. That wasn't the point of the post anyway---more my being intrigued at people having such derisive and mocking--even angry--reactions to the idea of global warming, and humans having, perhaps, a part in it. Also, this notion that it means we're all going to just get hotter and hotter. That's all. Wasn't a shout out for everyone to immediately go out and hug a tree.

3:29 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

and why is "State of Fear" enlightening? Just curious. I haven't read it; only heard about it.

3:31 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Anonymous grandma said...

well, you will have to read it. gives a perspective...: )
And I know that global warming would entail lots more than just clean rivers, clean cars and reclycled trash. Just seemed those are the everyday things the common 'Mary and John' could do. Programs? Well, okay. but....

3:36 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

yeah, programs and such would be a bit involved, more for those who enjoy that kind of thing and feel a real dedication. I can't say I fall into that category at all, but I'm glad that there are people who do.
As for the novel, I just remember that it received a lot of criticism from climate scientists and science journalists and the like for its misleading information and inaccuracies, so I'm not sure how much stock I'd put into it or how enlightening it would be, but who knows.

3:58 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Anonymous grandma said...

Well, of course it would receive criticism. But here is what SF Chronicle said: "Incendiary, revolutionary, fascinating, State of Fear is the first thriller in history whose goals are to convince you that there's really nothing to be afraid of, and then to scare you to death about it." It IS a work of fiction, 'however references to real people, institutions, and organizations that are documented in footnotes are accurate. Footnotes are real.'

4:33 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

"State of Fear, the new offering from novelist and master of disaster Michael Crichton, is more silly than scary. What is scary is when some media and policymakers take a work of science fiction and confuse it with science. That's what's happening with State of Fear, in which Crichton builds a fantasy world where global warming is not a real threat, but global warming scientists are."

and so on and so on....and so once again, like I said before, it's a political issue and people will apparently fall along those lines. To me it's akin somewhat to the whole argument regarding believing in God or not: if you do believe and He doesn't exist, what have you lost? If you don't believe and He DOES exist, then where are you? I guess for me that's kind of the same reasoning that rather makes sense for something as potentially important as global warming.

6:47 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Anonymous grandma said...

So we believe in it or we don't. What do we do about it, the common everyday man and woman? I believe it is out there, but don't know if I believe who caused it. ha.

9:29 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

hmm. well, it just seems funny to me that we can belt out pollution at every turn, spend decades not being careful, and then think that somehow there's no impact from that. There are cities in China where they never see the sun. It's just a tiny suggestion in the sky on the best of days, that's how bad the pollution is there. That's just one example. And yet man doesn't contribute to alterations in the environment? It just seems far-fetched somehow to think there's no impact from us, but anyway. It's an interesting topic for sure.

10:30 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Anonymous grandma said...

China's air is truly bad! Not safe to breathe they say.

10:42 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

I should find a picture of that city. It makes you sick almost to look at a picture of it. I can't imagine adults functioning in it, let alone young children and babies!! And so many of them ride bikes and walk, and they breathe it in constantly. Their lungs must all be black or something. Ugh.

10:59 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

go to google, go to images, and type "Linfen, China". Check out that first image. That's what it looks like!

11:02 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Anonymous grandma said...

Whew! Glad I live here!

11:18 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

yeah, no kidding!

11:38 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

(but I suspect that part of why our air doesn't look like theirs is because of all those crazy liberal environmentalists who make pests of themselves demanding that we have some sort of quality standards. They might have a point. I'll take our air any day over theirs).

11:39 PM, December 17, 2008

 
Anonymous grandma said...

I was surprised to find out though that the hottest recorded temperature was in the '30s. And here I thought it was this year.

9:56 AM, December 18, 2008

 
Anonymous grandma said...

I wonder who controls air in the European countries and S. America, etc. I've seen recent pictures our friends have taken in these places and their air is clear and beautiful. Maybe China is the only place that they just don't care?

10:45 AM, December 18, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

it is interesting that vast different between some countries. I suppose much is to do with how much pollution is being generated to begin with (factories, etc.) Not much is Made In Norway, etc.

11:05 AM, December 18, 2008

 
Blogger unca said...

Well, I have to say that when it's 20 degrees below zero and I'm waiting for the bus, I have more than once said something like, "Where's all this global warming we're supposed to be having." Yes, it's not very witty but my point is that I'm saying it in jest. It doesn't mean I don't believe there is global warming, I'm just trying for a little levity on a cold day. I'm sure others have done the same so don't judge us too harshly.

5:10 PM, December 18, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this global warming doesn't let up, we may freeze to death.

5:34 PM, December 18, 2008

 
Blogger jay are said...

that's totally true, unca...it's a good line for a cold moment for sure! And I'm glad I'm not there, I have to say! Tooooo cold for my wimpy bones.

And yes, rather than all burn up, it's looking a bit like we all might freeze!

6:13 PM, December 18, 2008

 
Blogger Michelle said...

Happy new Year! Funny, i just posted a short piece on global warming! I have no doubt humans are changing the earth, that i believe. Whati don't like is the scare tactics and false statements. 2008 is now the coldest on record for many years and Antarctica has 10% more ice than 2007. Australia was warned by scientists many of its capital cities would run out of fresh water by 2009.......our dams are fuller than they've been in a few years! Coral bleaching was supposed to have killed the great barrier reef too......not happened, looks fabulous! So, where are these scientists when the reverse occurs? These are just quick examples of some of the "diatribe" thats gone with regards to Australia over the last few years. I think global warming should be kept in perspective without the rash generalisations, scare mongering etc. Folks need to acknowledge it exists and they need to take action, but not cause a moral panic!

9:49 PM, December 31, 2008

 

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