Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's Getting Hot in Here

I'm a big fan of English comedian Matt Kirshen.

He recently blogged about the futility of arguing with wingnuts.

"So no more. No more rational argument, facts or reasons. My new tactic is to fight conspiracy theories with even crazier counter-conspiracy theories of my own. I invite you to join me.
Conspiracy: Drugs companies are pushing dangerous vaccines on people to make money even though they know it causes autism/fevers/duck-like symptoms.
It's all very well showing carefully researched scientific documents proving they are relatively safe* and pointing out that these theories have resulted in certain illnesses making huge come-backs. No one likes facts. Facts are duller than hedgehogs, statistically the dullest animal (fact).

My new argument:

Counter conspiracy: The companies know this is a myth, but the second everyone has the vaccine, the disease becomes extinct. This is the last thing they want. No one makes any money from smallpox any more. What if Measles, TB, Whooping Cough etc all went the same way? At the moment they get money from the vaccines AND from treating the disease. The second the illness is wiped out, that's their profits through the floor.

The people behind the anti-vaccine message ARE the drugs companies themselves. If they keep uptake at about 60%, leaving 40% carrying and perpetuating the diseases, they can carry on selling them forever. Better still, the MMR scare makes parents buy three separate vaccines rather than the cheaper 3 in 1. Bonus! If you want to really stop the evil big-pharm, then buy their products and tell everyone to do the same. It's the last thing they want."

I'm reminded of Kirshen's suggestion every time I'm in a situation where someone remarks on a cool day and scoffs at the idea of global warming.

Like while my (science teacher) father-in-law and I were at the swimming pool a couple of weeks ago. My mother-in-law was hustling the girls off to the car while I packed things into our giant pool bag.

"Almost chilly today, isn't it?" a perfectly ordinary stranger asked, toweling off after her river walking exercise class.

"It's been so lovely this summer. We're really enjoying the weather!" I replied enthusiastically, stepping right into her trap.

"Some global warming, huh?"

This didn't really seem like the time to lecture a perfect stranger on the topic of global climate change, so I just grunted noncommittally while my father-in-law smiled politely and we prepared ourselves to leave.

"I mean, really, global warming!" she said. Perhaps she thought we had water in our ears.

She continued shaking her head. "Global warming," she muttered one more time as we scuttled away.

She was obviously expecting us to agree with her. Barring that, perhaps she hoped for some sort of confrontation.

But seriously. Great job, anti-environmental lobby, politicians, and Fox news. You've managed to convince normal-looking people that global climate change(see below) is a myth.

Now that there's irrefutable scientific evidence (and consensus) about global climate change - both its existence and the fact that we're the proximate cause - such parties have moved on to arguing that either a) it's not going to be so bad, really, or b) it would cripple our robust economy to attempt to fix the problem so we'd better not try. Or both. (Looking right at you, George Will.)

Somebody should explain that to Greenland, which is already losing about 52 cubic miles per year - and the rate is accelerating. (Climate-Change Calculus: Why it's even worse than we feared by Sharon Begley) And, also, everyone who lives near water. New Orleans is toast, but what's new? And who cares about those liberals in California? New York isn't "real America," am I right? Besides, we don't care about any stinking pyramids in Egypt or canals in Venice. Floridians can look forward to seeing the ocean from their front and back doors. Win-win situation! And flooding Hawaii will free us up to annex Iraq as the 50th state.

Global sea levels are currently expected to rise at least one meter this century! And that's not even touching on droughts, storms, agriculture, or mosquitoes.

Oh, wait. Mosquitoes! Now I'm paying attention. I sure do hate mosquitoes.

Counter conspiracy: Those stupid climate change scientists are always trying to tell us what to do. In the name of freedom, let's put a lock-down on carbon emissions! Let's limit unnecessary travel, which will hinder their ability to travel to stupid climate change summits. Let's shut down the all modern industry - including the internet - so that they can't spread their nasty climate horror stories. Booyah! That'll stop their little experiments.

It's hot here now!

(This is below) See above geology.com link for "global warming" vs. "global climate change."


RobMonroe said...

I have this conversation with co-workers at least twice a month, and with folks on Facebook from time to time as well. There was a hurricane headed for Hawaii last week - that is NOT supposed to happen. (Cue Lewis Black routine about the snow in Boston.)

grace said...

i loved this post! anybody questioning global warming should have lived in louisville this past year during which we endured a hurricane!!!! that caused epic numbers of power outages that lasted weeks, a debilitating ice/snow storm that crippled the state for another 2 weeks without power, and most recently a flood. Did i mention we had a hurricane in Kentucky????

Sarahlynn said...

CO-WORKERS, Rob? That's horrifying.

Seriously, the scientific evidence is irrefutable. (And it turns out that the "alarmist scientists" were actually underestimating the significance of global climate change.)

People who refuse to believe otherwise are as nutty as those who believe we never landed on the moon.

Grace, I couldn't believe it when Mom told me you went in to work to sandbag! And that you used all the sand from your play/sand tables, too! It would be funny if it weren't also so tragic.