Save the Earth? Bah, humbug!

Because I have an affection for all things political, especially politically scandalous, I throughly enjoyed the movie Frost/Nixon. And one of the best lines out of the movie, in my opinion, came at the end, where it is noted that one of Nixon’s biggest legacies is having the suffix “-gate” attached to any scandal. It’s so very very true. My very favorite was Nipplegate, the name given to that wardrobe malfunction involving Justin Timberlake, a boobie, the Superbowl and Janet (Miss Jackson if you’re nasty).

The newest of these -gates is a scandal involving the alleged manipulation of scientific data regarding global warming, aka, Climategate.

The insane people at the Fox Nation have dedicated thousands of posts to this subject, all declaring that global warming is a HOAX! A hoax I tell you!

The story, in short: Someone hacked into e-mail accounts at the University of East Anglia and stole a whole lotta e-mails containing information about global warming theory that indicate that numbers and information may have been faked, altered or thrown out all together in an effort to boost the credibility of the theory itself. Depending on who you pick as your news provider, the media is either saturated with this story, or it’s rarely mentioned. There is no in between.

I’m amazed at the insistence of people that global warming is a hoax. No it’s not. Even climate experts who think Al Gore is full of it don’t dispute global warming itself. The argument is not whether global warming exists, it s whether man is having an impact on it. But it’s real. It’s happening. Personally, when blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and GleN Beck and, well, Fox News, call it a hoax, they’re being misleading and neglecting some important distinctions. They’re leading people to believe that there is no such thing as global warming, when that’s not true. They never never NEVER make the distinction between global warming and man-made global warming. It’s shoddy journalism at best. You can side with the scientists who don’t think man is affecting global warming if you so choose, but when you have such a huge platform and you keep insisting that global warming does not exist, now you’re just being irresponsible.

But enough of that already. Fellow blogger Erin has a great site that is predominantly a food blog, but she also talks in detail about the environment and a process called “ethical eating,” where (correct me if I am wrong Erin) she deliberately makes carefully considered food choices that revolve on having as little a negative impact on the environment as she can, ie, shopping her local markets, buy meat from local farms, eating organic foods whenever possible, avoiding food from animals that have been treated with hormones or kept in cages and finding local food sources where the food itself was not transported long distances. Like that. I know Erin does a lot more to protect the environment than just how she eats, though I cannot speak for her and every choice she makes (go to her blog, she speaks for herself just fine!). My favorite part about Erin’s choices are that they are hers and she shares them, but she doesn’t force them on you or get all judgy if you disagree with her. But she makes really, really good points.

I deeply admire Erin’s committment, though I do not share her enthusiasm for one reason and one reason only: I AM LAZY. Dude, I have two little boys and a WalMart a mile away and a tight budget. I buy a lot of WalMart brand stuff, and frankly, I know nothing about where things like my clothes come from. My WalMart usually has signs in the produce section noting that they support local farmers, but we are in Illinois. I’m pretty sure the avocados and citrus fruit aren’t from around here, and while the zucchini is delicious, it’s not exactly in season right now. During the summer, I do make an effort to support my local farmers. Unfortunately, a trip to the farm is a good ten-mile hike. So I can either buy food that is locally grown, but have to drive far, or food that is not locally grown, but I can walk…. Dilemma! I think when you balance it out, the farm is still the better option, and their vegetables are thousands of times better than the grocery stores vegetable selection. But right now, it’s December. The farm is closed for the season.

I do make an effort to do something, most notably I use canvas bags at the store. I also recycle pretty vigilantly, and I donate old stuff rather than toss it.  I am really hoping that the garden that I intend to plant in the spring is not an enormous failure. I’ve tried once before and failed miserably, though, in my effort, I did toss a stone at a squirrel that was destroying my zucchinis and hit him. He squeaked and kept on eating.

So somewhere between those who balk at global warming all together, and those who are committed to the environment, there is a happy place where many of us fit in, where we try to do good things and not pollute and have a nice, clean earth… but we could probably try a little harder. But this brings me back to those who are excited about Climategate, and how they think it has dealt global warming a huge blow, and exposed it as a hoax! Let’s assume they are right. Let’s assume that Erin’s efforts are completely unnecessary, that she’s not having an impact at all, positive or negative. Let’s assume that there’s no difference between when I shop at the grocery store and when I shop at the farm. Let’s assume that smog just ain’t that bad. Don’t these people still want a clean earth?

I mean, think about it. Let’s assume that it doesn’t matter if there are piles of plastic in a landfill. Wouldn’t you still rather have a park than a dump? Let’s assume that there’s no negative impact from harvesting lumber for paper products. Wouldn’t you still rather have a big pretty national forest than empty, unusable land? Let’s assume that emissions from automobiles are not affecting the environment. Wouldn’t you still rather have a fuel-efficient car and save money on gas?

Green choices aren’t just about saving the earth. They’re common sense. Even if you wanted to argue that litter doesn’t impact the enviroment negatively, it’s still litter!

In our household, we’ll try to make better choices. Sometimes we will win, and other times we will fail miserably. But I wouldn’t allow my house to become a big trash bin. Why risk it with the entire world.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Save the Earth? Bah, humbug!

  1. Jon

    Hi Marney.

    Because I am majoring in Biology, the recent “Climate-gate” scandal has been a story of great interest to me. So, as a scientist in the making, I thought I’d add my two cents to your blog.
    First and foremost, with the exception of blowhards like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly (who aren’t scientists to begin with), the dissent in the scientific community is not about whether “Global Warming” is happening. We know that the Earth’s climate has constantly changed since the advent of this planet 4.5 billion years ago. Rather, I think, the excitement that “Climate-gate” has generated is because the recent revelation of the shenanigans at the University of East Anglia’s CRU exposes much of what we have been told about anthropogenic (man-made) climate change as bad science. The researchers at East Anglia’s CRU did a great disservice to science. Not only did they falsify their data, but they destroyed the raw data that they used to come to their conclusions. This means that Anthropogenic Global Warming could be TRUE, but we will not know for another decade or two because the researchers at East Anglia caught themselves up in their own political agendas. Where religion and other man made systems of thought can be tainted by emotion, science is supposed to be objective. What the ‘scientists’ at East Anglia did was break that system of objectivity. Their transgressions were against everything that science is supposed to be and stand for. So that is problem #1.
    Problem #2 lies in the public’s perception of science. There is already a massive amount of distrust levied against science by the public, namely against the Theory of Evolution for religiously motivated reasons. What the researcher’s at East Anglia have made way for is this: That sanctimonious, uneducated religious zealots can now look at science as a whole and say “Ah ha! Because of “Climate-gate” we should no longer trust science period!” And these idiots will go about their day with that much more confidence that everything they read in Jack Chick tracts about the “lie of Evolution” is true. This is not good. According to a recent Pew Research study, nearly 50% of Americans believe in special creation that took place somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-10 thousand years ago. Only roughly 17% of Americans accept Evolution as a valid scientific theory explaining the diversity of life on this planet. ‘Climate-gate’ has only enabled that 50% to further shy away from science, and that is a shame, given how uneducated Americans are in general about science.
    The East Anglia’s CRU also shows us how bad it can be when political agendas taint science. As I’m sure you and many of your readers know, President Obama has promoted alternative energy sources to meet our energy demands. While this is all well and good, the problem is that Washington is promoting the wrong sources of alternative energy. Take corn/soy ethanol for instance. One acre of corn can only produce 15 gallons of ethanol, and one acre of soy can produce 48 gallons of ethanol. On the other hand, certain species of microalgae emit biodiesel as a waste, such that one acre of land alotted to said species yeilds 1850 gallons of biodiesel per acre, with potential yeilds up to 5-10 thousand gallons/acre. But the government has expressed zero interest in this source of alternative energy. Not only is it cheaper to produce, easier to maintain, and entirely renewable on an industrial scale, but biodiesel requires zero transport and zero refining. There are farmers that currently use this technology, who no longer have to go to a gas pump to fill up their tractors and combines. Yet, the government ignores the potential of this source of alternative energy. The government also promotes sources like wind and solar, which also has major problems. Wind and solar energy are clean, but aren’t as practical on a large scale, due to problems with transport and construction, and the conditions required to make these sources viable are not constant. The government needs to do its job to promote practical forms of alternative energy, instead of stumbling around like a drunk grabbing whatever first catches its eye. Nuclear energy, both fission and fusion, is probably the most practical alternative to powering our electric grid, but archaic laws and the byzantine set of regulations and fees to install new nuclear plants often gets in the way (not to mention the ‘not in my backyard’ syndrome – though that tends to be more about aesthetics than anything else). The point of all this being that while ‘earth-friendly’ people like Al Gore, President Obama etc. etc. may have the best intentions in mind, they are… how do you say it… doing it completely wrong.
    I would also encourage you to read an article called ‘The Climate Science Isn’t Settled’ by Richard S. Lindzen, professor of Meteorology at MIT. He points out several major inconsistencies in the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming, and offers alternative explanations for some of the contentious issues. There are also other evidences that routinely get glossed over by the AGW promoters, namely, that other planets in our solar system are warming. Now, this means one of two things. Either all that nasty CO2 we have been releasing has somehow escaped to other planets, where it is laying waste to those environments, OR climate change is connected to the cyclical behavior of our nearest star, the Sun. But, of course, evidences like that and the ones pointed out by Richard Lindzen are routinely ignored because they are politically inconvenient.

    Before we accept massive climate legislation (Cap & Trade) from Washington, we should make sure we have all our bases covered. AGW promoters routinely make the mistake of assuming that the debate on climate change is akin in nature to the “debate” between Creationists and Biologists on the Theory of Evolution. I assure you, it is not. How this debate IS similar, however, is that one side HAS been tainted by bad science and emotional appeals, and that, regrettably, is the Anthropogenic Global Warming promoters. The shenanigans from the East Anglia CRU show that, with more, I’m told, coming from NASA.

  2. Chelle

    I just wanted to note that farms are not closed in December. I have a farmer’s market all winter long, and things like brussells sprouts and broccoli and all these root veggies are being sold. 🙂

  3. Marney

    Man, I wish I had a winter market! Our nearest farm closes on Oct. 31, I even checked an Illinois website ( http://www.illinoisfarmdirect.org/findmarkets.cfm ) for farmer’s markets, and only two are year round, and they are FAR from me. *pouts*

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