Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Great Essay from a Great Man

After reading an excerpt from the Joy Behar Show tucked away in the umpteenth comment on a recent RSOL post (during which a guest apparently tried to draw a connection between climate change and earthquakes and tsunamis) and fighting (or embracing?) some insomnia with some Internet reading, I found this Michael Crichton essay/speech titled "Environmentalism as Religion."

It was important that I post, because I've noticed there are three things I tend to keep doing almost reflexively:

1. Harrumph and yell when the subject of modern wireless technology etiquette comes up. I most recently did this yesterday on Gerry Nutter's blog. The big cultural change I wish to see is that people stop freaking out when others don't immediately respond to calls and texts. The 'selling point' I make in doing so is that I believe there's a connection here to Texting While Driving and Yapping While Driving, which are both causes of Accidents While Driving.

2. Harrumph and yell whenever the word 'humbled' is butchered. I know langauge evolves, and I know words like 'anxious,' 'notorious,' and 'peruse' are more often honored in the breach than the observance. Still, there's a curmudgeonly William Safire-wannabe somewhere in me whose skin crawls every time someone talks about how 'humbling' it is to win an Oscar, to hit a 500th home run, earn a major party's Presidential nomination, etc. Hizzoner, Mayor Milinazzo, even did this during his January inaugural speech. 'Humbled' is what life makes you when you don't get what you want, when your best isn't good enough, or when you had your Oscar acceptance speech ready to go but "Howard's End" eked you out for the honors.

3. Harrumph and yell about Michael Crichton's 'State of Fear' every time the issue of global warming/climate change comes up. I know I've done this a time or two on RSOL and on CAS. I do this because even though the novel was forgettable, the bigger point Crichton was making in writing it has stayed with me ever since -- the human race would be better served by an environmental movement that leads with its head, not its heart. In doing so, the book hit me square in the head and the heart; if I dare say it, it humbled me because I realized I had sort of plodded along buying the company line on climate change for so many years without ever really questioning why I thought what I did, and what authority I based that on.

Anyway, I excitedly post that now because if you've got some time today to read the essay linked above, you can spare yourself all the trouble of reading State of Fear (though you'll miss out on all those cool charts in the Epilogue). The essay spells out the gist of what Crichton was saying.

Caveat lector -- if you are a religious or environmental fundamentalist, you might be offended.


kad barma said...

Speaking of head-based environmentalism, I was fascinated to read the recent LA Times article that point out that there are four separate research tracks at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and not all of them are guilty of the egregious flaws in scientific method currently stoking the fires of the people who desperately want to deny the overall science for whatever reason.,0,6596262.story

("No errors have surfaced in the first and most well-known of the reports, which said that the physics of a warming atmosphere and rising seas are man-made and incontrovertible").

As I've mentioned before, there are glaciers everywhere in the world a person can walk upon, and every one that I've personally walked upon has been receding at a most impressive (i.e. alarming) rate, and I'm further personally satisfied that it requires further study, and anyone arguing that it does not require further study is not only stupid, but also dangerous.

What we all conclude from these studies does, however, resemble the reactions in a religious controversy, and that's perhaps the most alarming observation of all.

The New Englander said...

Thanks for mentioning the LA Times piece. I couldn't get the link to work when I copied and pasted but will Google it and give it a read.

Megadittoes about the distinction between the total deniers and the total alarmists in your post today. For my part, I will start by admitting I don't know enough about the science behind global warming to fall into either camp.