Letters to the Editor for April 9, 2014
The world does need alternative energy
In his April 3, 2014, op-ed in The Record-Courier opposing the Huntington windfarm, Mr. Bill Harvey did us a grave disservice by declaring that our need for renewable energy is “not based on fact or need.” He thus asserted his denial of the existence and impact of global warming, a belief he explicitly stated in his letter to the editor of the Baker City Herald of July 22, 2013.
In seeking to impose his misguided and unscientific beliefs on us, Mr. Harvey is flying in the face of almost all climate scientists, and he is sowing seeds of doubt and confusion around a profound environmental threat to our well-being.
On March 31, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) urged swift and decisive action to limit greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels (which generate about a quarter of the Pacific Northwest’s electricity). Otherwise, the world will almost surely face centuries of climbing temperatures, rising seas, species loss, and dwindling agricultural yields. Even now, said the IPCC, ice caps are melting; and droughts, floods, and wildfires are getting worse.
The report’s conclusions mirrored those of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific society. Two weeks ago, the association declared that the world is already feeling the effects of global warming, that the ultimate consequences could be catastrophic, and that the window for effective action is swiftly closing.
In stark contrast, the Skeptical Science website contains correction and refutation of 176 myths foisted on us by the fossil fuel industry and anti-government ideologists denying the existence and source of global warming. I don’t know where Mr. Harvey gets his information, but I do know that millions of Americans have been brainwashed by waves of disinformation coming from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and other right-wing media outlets.
In any event, we can no longer afford to be misled. Global warming is a real and present danger; we do need all the alternative energy sources we can get; and we do need government subsidies to get them off the drawing board and into the mainstream.
Reducing carbon footprint won’t save the planet
Radical environmentalists tell us that burning fossil fuels is causing the earth to warm, and that eventually the consequences of this are going to be catastrophic. Therefore, they go on, to save the planet, we must all reduce our carbon footprints. But if the first statement is true, then acting on the second one is futile. Even if we cut back on our use of fossil fuels, they still are being burned, and so the earth will continue to warm. We thus are not stopping global warming; we are merely delaying it ... a little. How little?
Consider: The government has decreed that the average fuel economy for all automobiles sold in the United States will be increased to 45 mpg. If this is achieved by the target date, it is estimated that by 2042, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere predicted for February will not occur … until March. Wow! Cram us all into four-wheeled motorcycles for 28 years, and the rising seas are held back for a whole month! Make a few more drastic changes like that, and apocalypse might be pushed back to June!
No, if you truly believe that the fate of mankind hangs in the balance, you will not just reduce your carbon footprint, you will eliminate it altogether, for as long as fossil fuels continue to be burned, the earth will continue to warm. You’ll trade your car for an oat-burner; horses don’t run on gasoline. You’ll raise all your own food, for farmers use tractors and their produce is hauled to market in trucks, both of which run on diesel. You won’t heat your home in winter with natural gas or oil. Electric heat is out as well; most electricity in this country is generated by burning some fossil fuel. And so on; you’ll basically have the standard of living which our 18th century ancestors enjoyed. Very few of us would voluntarily change our lives so drastically.
Reducing our carbon footprint doesn’t save the planet; it only allows us to feel good about ourselves, more enlightened than those ignorant catastrophic climate change critics.
Ostriches, lemmings and other urban legends
While perusing the stacks like a homeless bag-man in our most excellent public library recently, I came across some revisionist humor by the editors at Cracked magazine called “The De-Textbook: The Stuff You Didn’t Know About The Stuff You Thought You Knew.” As a voracious reader, I checked their references and saw they did their homework. Here’s what I learned:
In the 1st century A.D., Pliny the Elder mistook sleeping ostriches (who sleep with their necks flat on the ground) for cowardly birds who are so terrified by the concept of night that they, well ... you know. The truth: This bird has a 2,000-pounds-per-square-inch kick (2ﬁMike Tysons) with reversible knees and 4-inch talons. Imagine sneaking up on one of nature’s most efficient killing machines and you can see what makes this urban legend such a dangerous one.
Started in 1908 by author (“Children’s Encyclopedia”) Mee, the lemming myth shot to infamy in 1958 with Walt Disney’s Oscar-winning documentary, “White Wilderness.” Lemmings don’t commit suicide, so the crew decided to throw them off a cliff.
With Mother Nature currently poised above our heads like the hammer of God, it’s amusing to me that my species has a history of projecting its attributes to other beings that have nothing to do with its behavior. In AA parlance, we are barely snailing our way up the razor from the denial to the anger stage.
Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand at the first sign of danger. People do.
Lemmings don’t jump off cliffs together just because everyone else is doing it. People do.
If the human species lives to see the acceptance stage, the first letters of apology should go to ostriches and lemmings. It’s not their fault they were born noble and wise and we were born evolutionary dead-ends. Who knows, maybe they’ll live long enough to read them.
Meanwhile, I think I’ll join my fellow contemporaries in leaning back and popping another cold one.
Hey look, the mountains are still blue.