Random Earth Day Reflections


From The Ryskind Sketchbook

Steve Hayward (who's just updated his Inconvenient Truth film) thinks the global warming scare has reached its peak.
More than 30 years ago political scientist Anthony Downs discerned what he called the “issue-attention cycle,” a five-stage process by which the public and especially the news media grow alarmed over an issue, agitate for action, generate piles of scary headlines, and then begin to draw back as we come to recognize that the problem has been exaggerated or misconceived, and the price tag for action comes in. While Downs thought that the issue-attention cycle for the environment would last longer than most issues, it appears the mother-of-all-environmental scares -- global warming -- is following his model and is going to begin to fade like other environmental alarms of the past such as the population bomb and the “we’re running out of everything” scares.
Have to agree with him, since sitting in the doctor's office yesterday I found Time magazine's recently run a cover story questioning the use of bio-fuels in The Clean Energy Scam. Turns out most of them are more carbon-producing than oil. And they lead to destruction of the rain forest because American farmers are planting more corn for ethanol, but the world needs soybeans, so Brazilian farmers are clear-cutting to make soybean farms. That amuses me, since, as the article notes,
The Amazon was the chic eco-cause of the 1990s, revered as an incomparable storehouse of biodiversity. It's been overshadowed lately by global warming, but the Amazon rain forest happens also to be an incomparable storehouse of carbon, the very carbon that heats up the planet when it's released into the atmosphere.
The extreme environmentalists you have always with you, but they don't have a very long attention span.

To cite another example, yesterday I heard a PSA about not using plastic bags. I am old enough to recall, however, that plastic bags came in as a solution to "deforestation," which was the scare in the '80s (or at least were marketed as such --probably they were just cheaper for stores). I can recall getting dirty looks for preferring paper bags --didn't I care about the environment?

Also noted in the past few days:
  • Happened to tune into ABC news w/ Charlie Gibson last night for a story near the close about countries banning grain exports to try to prevent food prices rising (India, Russia, etc.) and the resultant world food shortages. For which, it was suggested in passing, the solution might simply be to plant more --because, Gibson noted, weather forecaster predict excellent growing conditions in the next few years. So global warming might stave off famine in the world at large?
  • Each year Christians from the Holy Land visit our parish to sell hand-carved olive wood goods. Someone always rises during announcements to make the pitch for supporting the few remaining Christians there. This year the pitchman felt it necessary to assure us that the wood is taken from branches during pruning, which helps the trees to grow. She wanted us to rest easy that no olive trees are harmed in the sustaining of their livelihood. What does it tell us that she felt that necessary to say?
  • And finally, Gaia's vote --or God's? Mustn't make too much of these things, but I can't help but smile at the fact the Holy Father's last day in NY was supposed to be rained out, but the weather cleared at the last minute. Whereas the Earth Day Festival was called on account of lightning.
  • Update: ninme has video of the most rational discussion of Global Warming I've ever heard -- an interview on New Zealand tv with Prof. Bob Carter of Queensland U. Watch it. He says most reputable scientists actually believe in global cooling.
  • Too yummy. As I heard on Rush earlier...
    On Friday, it was revealed by ABC News that one of the famous shots of supposed Antarctic ice shelves in the film [An Inconvient Truth] was actually a computer-generated image from the 2004 science fiction blockbuster "The Day After Tomorrow."
    Update 2: Curtsy to Brett McS for leaving this Card. Pell column on the topic in comments.