1.16.2006

Heatup Roundup: Interesting Times -- Interesting and Doomed! Edition

• Big article in The Independent about how James Lovelock, the man who gave us the Gaia hypothesis, thinks

...before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.
At last, you're thinking, a scientist who's giving me a good reason to take up smoking. But wait! William Connoley and James Annan cry "bullshit," or, in Annan's words, "alarmist nonsense." Connoley:
Obviously, billions of people *will* die before the end of the century; I will probably be one of them to die of old age. As long as I don't fall of a mountain or some other accident. Will I die of climate change? At the moment it seems unlikely to me.
Note, however, that both scientists are thinking a 2-3oC rise in temps during the century which will still be quite unpleasant.

• I also enjoyed this article in The Independent about how Michael Palin is in trouble with an environmental group he's involved with because he flies so much ("It is estimated that Palin's journeys have, between them, created more than 44 tons of carbon dioxide.")

Palin's reply is: "Yes, I obviously am generating a lot of carbon emissions, but with the programmes I make I am bringing the world closer to a lot of people." This seems like hooey, or at least hooeyesque. TV programmes, or "shows," as we call them, maybe brought the world closer to a lot of people in, like 1960. Nowadays, though, no one programmmmmme has any cause to feel so proud of itself. Yes, not even Amazing Race.

• Finally, in honor of MLK, this post from Brian Schmidt, which I'm going to post in full without regard to fair use, as if I were Brad DeLong:

I think that environmentalists have received a bad rap for the accusation of only having one rhetorical tool, the "I Have a Nightmare" argument, in contrast to Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" rhetoric. One thought I had that might prove the bad rap was to look at what King himself had said, because I suspected there was a fair amount of nightmares in King's speeches.

So I borrowed a library book with King's speeches and checked the dream to nightmare ratio, first in the original Dream speech, and then in a eulogy for the schoolgirls that were killed in a church bombing. It didn't back up what I thought I would find. His Dream speech had about twice as many hopeful lines as it had fearful lines. Even the eulogy for the murdered schoolgirls was about equal in the dream to nightmare ratio, talking about the girl's happiness in the afterlife and the hopes that their sacrifice would instill to work for a better future. Other speeches I skimmed were similar. King definitely emphasized hope over fear.

I still think the Nightmare rhetoric of activism is an essential one, pointing out the problems that will occur if things are not changed, but King's hopefulness is also something to remember.

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