August 10, 2007

Thing I will not miss.

Militantly, stridently, ignorant coworker. My boss was having a conversation with me about a continuing ed seminar he went to yesterday on "green" building, and apparently half of it was devoted to a presentation about global warming.

As I've said ad nauseum, I am unconvinced that anthropogenic forces are the sole cause of any observed rise in global temperatures, or if they are even a significant influence. Yes, we obviously can have some effect on climate, and probably do to some extent, but that link is much less strong than I believe many proponents would have us believe, and there are many other natural factors that contribute to the global climate and any changes it undergoes.

Second, the Earth has always experienced great shifts in climate, even absent industrialized societies. This doesn't mean (again, obviously) that we don't, or can't, have an effect, but that it's worth remembering that extrapolating from a tiny set of data to explain something that operates on a geological timescale is not good science.

Having said that, as my boss continued, he noted the presenter's program included that thing about the drowning polar bears. And my militantly strident coworker had to chime in.

All the ice has melted, and they're all drowning!

Yes, that's a broad brush, but some people are unwilling to even brook any evidence to the contrary, or even to discuss if this could possibly be an anomolous condition. But those are Stridently Militant Coworker's exact sentiments. All melted, all drowned. ALL! And any that lived were probably hunted down by Halliburton and served raw to Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. Because that's just the way they are.

Yes, I'm sure some bears have drowned while searching for food. How many? I don't know. How many over the past forty years? I imagine that data is even harder to find--not that it's not there--but it doesn't seem to get published when we talk about all the poor cute bears a'dying. What I want to know is if there's been a statistically significant increase. I am willing to wager not. But that doesn't make compelling storytelling the way a pitiful bear on a chunk of ice does.

After that topic was shouted down, my boss talked about how building technology is going to have to adapt to a more sustainable model that incorporates all the neat things we can do in managing such things as water run-off, heat gain, energy consumption, etc.

Well, that's NOT gonna happen! No one is about to do anything any differently!

You know, I've gotten pretty sick and damned tired over the years of self-identified "progressive" people who do not hesitate to tell me how enlightened and intelligent and nuanced and rational they are, who turn right around and exhibit the sort of narrow-minded, stereotypical, petty, childish, ignorant, uninventive, and cynical mindset they constantly pin on others.

Yes, we will get better, because it makes sense. The free market works, and if there is a way to raise profit levels or household income through the introduction of improved building technologies, it will be done. Although there are always going to be individual businesses or players who will act irrationally or ignorantly, if there is free-flowing information and a lack of disincentives to progress, progress will occur, and the presence of some people who "don't get it" doesn't mean everyone is stupid. One big problem has been that mushy-headed government-as-savior sorts believe we must bail out the stupid people.

If there's any one reason for lack of substantial progress on any issue, you can usually rest assured it's because there is a government agent standing there trying to make things better by rewarding incompetence in the name of charity.

Let the market work, and it will.

Yes, as a society we do tend to be more wasteful, because there are few incentives to not be, and yes, it usually costs nothing (and in some cases, is financially beneficial) to be more frugal with natural resources. It does, however (at least on an industrial scale), require proof other than simply believing it so.

Yes, we do pump out a lot of pollution and garbage--more than any other country per capita. What seems to always go unsaid is that our economy is almost inconceivably large. We produce more things for more people than our own population, and yes that means we also produce more waste. Although our good progressives never want to miss an opportunity for the US to take more than its share of blame, the fact remains that China and India pump out far greater percentages of waste and pollution per unit produced than anyone else, the United States included, and they are much less able to effectively deal with the waste they produce. Which is why they have no interest in Kyoto except as a strategic way of hobbling US productivity.

Back to Militantly Strident Coworker. Lighten up, Francis. That world-weary cynicsm act reads as hopelessly fatuous when you live in the most wealthy, prosperous, powerful nation in the history of the world, of which you are just as much a beneficiary of that largesse as any other citizen.

Onward, as the "conversation" evolved from problems to "solutions," the name of The Lord High Al Gore was invoked, along with his fantabulously well-researched Book of Wisdom.

It's great--he has all these simple charts in the back, and he says if every house would change just one lightbulb to a fluorescent, we'd save just hundreds of billions of ozone.

Yes, that is almost an exact quote. Remember--smart, progressive.

Glenn Reynolds says it all the time--I'll believe there's a crisis when the people who keep saying there's a crisis act like there's a crisis.

If Al Gore lived like the rest of us have to, we'd save hundreds of billions of ozone, too. Whatever that means. But let me tell you, this thing where we let the environmental priestly caste lead us around preaching pious asceticsm for us while they loll around building bonfires to combat air pollution is going to have to stop.

Hypocrites give religion a bad name, no matter the type of religion it is. The bad thing is, such hypocrisy hides the fact that some of the basic ideas DO make sense, and SHOULD be encouraged. I intend to replace incandescents whenever I can, not because of Al or my Militantly Strident Coworker (who only has one bulb, in her foyer, and she doesn't like it, because it doesn't put out enough light), but because they last longer, use less energy to provide a given level of light, and less energy to dispense with waste heat. They don't work for everything, but for the things they DO work at, there's no reason not to change them out.

Then on to the next favored hobby-horse of Militantly Stridently Militant Coworker, evil SUVs. It might come as a surprise to you that all Republicans drive them. All. Every single brown-person-hating, baby-seal-killing, vote-stealing, one of them. ALL!

Love that nuance, and that precious unwillingness to deal in stereotypes that unfairly denigrate another person or group.

ANYway, it seems that all these perfect little Republican Trophy-Breeders are loading their perfect little Future Haters Club Members (i.e., spawn of Satan) in their SUVs and go spewing pollution everywhere to the point she can't even go outside to have a smoke break! Yes, seems that she suffers from some respiratory ailment, and one obviously caused not by her thirty year pack-a-day habit, but those filthy ozone killing Rethugs.

People can get away from my second-hand smoke, but that crap out there NO ONE can get away from!

Denial, river, Egypt, etc.

Anyway, seems we have a whole system to tell people when it's unsafe to go outside, and this bothers her, and the ambient air is obviously killing her lungs the way no cigarette ever could.

Makes no difference that Birmingham's air quality is infinitely better than when the steel mills were operating 24 hours a day. I remember--I live here and have all my life. Yes, we do have a ground-level ozone problem, but I dare say it's no worse now than it was before, it's just that we now know it's a problem, and that it needs to be monitored, and we don't need to do anything to produce more of it. (Of course, one reason is that we have more sunlight, because there's less particulate matter in the air from the now-shuttered mills, and more sunlight helps makes more ozone, but whatever.)

Also, it makes no difference that pollution from stationary sources is the predominant source of air pollution in this area, and not mobile sources. Or that an SUV-load of people puts out less pollution per person per mile than a single militant coworker in a Toyota Avalon. Or that a city with a higher proportion of lower income people tend to drive older, less efficient and more polluting vehicles (even if they aren't SUVs). Or that there are plenty of housing opportunities much closer to our workplace that would require much less fuel (and less pollution) to get here than her house in the suburban sprawl of northern Shelby County. Why, it's just the principal of the thing! ALL THOSE REPUBLICAN SUVs ARE KILLING HER LUNGS!

Anyway, I get tired of this garbage, and I'll not miss it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at August 10, 2007 10:09 AM

Hey Terry, tell us what you really think!

Posted by: BillW at August 10, 2007 10:29 AM

Nah, I'd rather hold back a bit.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 10, 2007 10:52 AM

Billions of ozones?!? Why has there not been a "Save the Ozones" awareness-raising concert? Oh, the radical gaseous compounds lost, and nobody to stand up for them! It's funny (sad) how she can complain about air quality in between drags from her cigarette.

I am surprised there has not been more "I told you so" stories in the MSM about global warming considering the heat wave most of the country is enduring this week. Maybe once they get back from the mountains or beach houses they'll be "inspired" to tell it like it is.

Posted by: Marc V at August 10, 2007 11:16 AM

It's like I always say, "People are something."

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 10, 2007 11:52 AM

If she's so concerned, why doesn't she drive a Toyota Prius!!??!!

You should hear how many college professors are on this bandwagon, and bring it up in class...

Posted by: Leah at August 11, 2007 09:43 AM

Because she's the type to want to regulate what everyone else can do, but wants complete freedom to do as she pleases. It seems to be a pretty common mindset amongst those of a certain political stripe.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at August 13, 2007 08:15 AM