In May 2008, the US finally listed the polar bear as a threatened species (due to global warming). The move was a half-measure that was agreed to only after the Bush administration was sued by champions of the Arctic bears. Not one to be swayed by lovable, furry, iconic animals or mere moral correctness,
the right-wingnut columnist George F. Will found nothing to love about the listing of polar bears and vented his eco-contempt on the opinion page of
The Washington Post.
While it was no surprise that the Mr. Will, a prince of plutocratic punditry, would write a piece that basically boiled down to "stupid global warming idiots!" ... the following opening passage was still a bit remarkable:
The Interior Department, bound by the Endangered Species Act, has declared polar bears a "threatened" species because they might be endangered "in the foreseeable future," meaning 45 years. (Note: 45 years ago, the now-long-forgotten global cooling menace of 35 years ago was not yet foreseen.) The bears will be threatened if the current episode of warming, if there really is one....
So, here in 2008, less than a year after the world's premier group of climate scientists (the IPCC) released a voluminous set of reports detailing the unambiguous dangers of global warming, here is a person of supposed intellect and learning still questioning the existence of the problem by invoking the ol' "global cooling trick."
Now, to be fair, a few decades ago there were some scientists warning that global cooling might be a problem. But there were also scientists who were already discussing the potential threat of global warming (yes, even back then). And as climate science advanced over the years, a clear scientific consensus emerged: the threat to today's civilization is global warming, not global cooling. Long term—assuming we manage to survive the coming episode of catastrophic warming—global cooling could indeed be a problem. But if we keep ignoring the warming problem, we won't get a chance to worry about an approaching cooling problem a thousand or so years from now.
Anyway, it's frustrating that supposedly smart people like Mr. Will are still playing fast and loose with the science of the matter and casting doubt on whether global warming is even real. Will's Post piece inspired a response from the Grinning Planet editorial department, but rather than simply blasting away at his oh-so-dumb o-pin-yuns, we invoked the method used by Doug Piranha of Monty Python fame (see sidebar) and put a humorous spin on our letter to him. Here 'tis....
Mr. Will --
I am so pleased to find you still in the camp of global warming skeptics. Just because the vast majority of the world's climate-science experts think that global climate change is a serious problem that needs immediate attention, I feel there's no need to panic. Let's wait and see how it goes. Thank you for helping the world to realize that it's usually best to let global catastrophes just work themselves out.
And, you're right about the science. First it's global cooling, then it's global warming. Maybe soon it will be global cooling again. Scientists are idiots. It's just like hundreds of years ago: First it was "the sun goes around the earth"; now everyone is so sure it's "the earth goes around the sun." Well, we'll see.
And as for environmentalists, I don't like them either. Who are they to tell the rest of us we should protect the environment, just because it supposedly sustains us? It's just like three decades ago when my mother kept trying to tell me that all my smoking and drinking would one day put me in a world of hurt. Well, it turned out she was right, but I just don't like any smarty-pants people telling me what I should do.
Ah, we feel better now.
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