NANFA-- Gloom, Dispair & Agony on me

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Wed, 08 May 2002 21:53:44 -0400

I kinda find the uproar this book has generated quite amusing. I grew up
in the 70s (how I remember Hee Haw) and for a while found myself caught
up in the gloom and doom of "Global Cooling" , Paul (Bug Specialist)
Erlich's exploding "Population Bomb" as well as the energy crisis,
Biblical prophets bantering about turmoil in the Middle East and the
nuclear arms race. Up until the early 80s I was starting to get worried
that Armageddon and the Day of Judgement were just around the corner.

The cyclical nature of Society's outlook on the future is so uncanny.
I'm sure the end of the high tech boom of the 90s and Sept 11th are
enough to shake up the psyche of the most prosperous and resiliant
civilization. I have concluded that the reasons people like the idea of
gloom and doom is because it makes their otherwise insignificant lives
SIGNIFICANT. To be able to say that you are the last generation of
humanity on Earth must be worth something.

Of course there are others out there with more "higher" motivations. The
prophets themselves out for profits always looking to cash in on a good
potboiler. Or to lend credence to a political ideology. Or getting
research grants - how can you say no to the federal government when they
wave millions of dollars in your face and ask "Would you like to study
global warming"?

No wonder these people are jumping ugly about Lomborg's book.
Makes you wonder how often scientific objectivity is compromised - just
as the objectivity of the main stream media is compromised ? Hey, might
as well bash Journalism while on the subject of gloom and doom since
news reporters also fit into that category of those who love bad news!
And if you make an honest effort to read between the lines the slant of
their stories is obvious to the point that it is occasionally sickening!

The late astronomer Carl Sagan who sometimes ran with the gloom and doom
crowd said something very profound that I have never forgotten and have
since found assuring ; "nowhere in the Cosmos is immune to change".

Guess change is the real boogy man here. We're not really destroying the
planet, we're just changing it. For better or worse ; which way is
relative to your culture and ideological beliefs. Overall , economic
growth has improved the lot of humanity and also environmental quality.
Those who keep screaming about how capitalism and technology are
destroying the planet keep turning a blind eye to the former Soviet bloc
and various Third World cesspools where centralized planning and antique
production modes have ruined ecosystems and wrecked lives. Authoritarian
governments that many leftward thinkers in the west claim are the only
hope for saving the planet are the ones that have wrought some of the
most appaling devastation. No property rights, no right to the redress
of greivences - the Sierra Club people would be sent to rot in a gulag
if they complained about the environmental impact of a 5 year plan or
protested the pollution from one of those State owned factories. If they
crossed Joseph Stalin they would have been shot and burried in mass

That's pretty much the verdict for command economies. They don't work -
unless you happen to be the one in command. Which may be another reason
people don't like Lomborg's book. Who wants to give up the reigns of
power and all the nice perks that go with them?

As for "Global Warming" the verdict is still out on that one. We don't
know for sure it it is going to be a sure future trend or if we are
really the cause of it. Consider that for much of it's history up until
a few million years ago Earth has enjoyed MUCH warmer conditions than we
have today. We just happen to be lucky enough to be living in the cusp
between ice ages- we've had three or four of them over the course of
time that humans have been on Earth. Between major glacial advances
there are lots of lesser fluctuations of climate of centuries or
millennia in duration. We've had several major shifts since the end of
the Wisconsin Ice Age some 15,000 years ago. A major episode of global
warming happened about 7,000 years ago - about the time of the dawn of
civilization. And it was enough to bring a tongue of Prairie across
Pennsylvania to the Mid-Atlantic. What little civilization there was on
the planet then was hardly enought to perturb the climate.

And what about the Climatic Optimum that occured in the Middle Ages? Or
the "Little Ice Age" that happened right around the time of European
expansion to the Americas- and up until the 1800s- the infamous "Year
Without a Summer" that set the dark and stormy atmosphere immortalized
in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein! These were changes radical enough to give
any modern day climatologist the hibby jibbies- and probably everyone
else too- but life went on and the planet and humanity endured.

The historical evidence suggests that global warming , if it is
happening may not be so bad. Common sense also suggests likewise. My own
gut feeling is that better warmer than colder. Colder means shorter
growing seasons and failed harvests, and glaciers encroaching on my
backyard. More sickness, because people are stressed and more prone to
huddle together in close confinement when it's cold. That was one of my
fears back during the 70s when climatologists were predicting global

Funny back then how the solution to Global Cooling was pretty much the
same as it is for Global Warming today : More government control of your
day to day life and less technology.

Now that last one really had me really baffled.

If another Ice Age were coming- would I want to give up modern
technology and live at a feudal subsistance level with a life expectancy
of less than 30 or fire up lots of nuclear reactors and beam power down
from space to keep those damned glaciers at bay?

No hard feelings anyone.

You can do the math if you want.
I'm just going to do what ever it takes to survive and maintain some
human dignity.

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