Saturday, August 11, 2012

Casting The Big Problem into a New Light

I've been meaning to write about this for a while, but have been traveling and working and being lazy and stuff and, as such, have not been writing.  But I was struck by a recent interview Rachel Maddow  did with former climate change skeptic, Richard Muller.  He said something remarkable that I wanted to, uh, remark on.

But first, I learned recently on Facebook that Rachel Maddow is a hate monger who routinely sacrifices integrity and ethics at the altar of a grossly partisan agenda.  Although I am a routine watcher of her show and a fan from way back, I had been, prior to this context-less Facebook exchange, sadly unaware of her journalistic decrepitude.  But I have since removed the mote from my own eye, stripped off my liberal tinfoil hat (which makes me hear only the words coming out of her mouth instead of what she so totes means) and see, finally, the hateful, agenda-driven-y subtext.  I shall translate the first part of the interview:

Rachel: So, bitch, you heard what I had to say. You want to call me a liar, you corrupted Republican fucktard?
Muller: Well, now, Ms. Maddow, I don't want to call you a liar.  I would just like to point out that the Koch Brothers didn't make the funding of my research contingent upon coming up with a specific result set.
Rachel:  Oh, puh-leeze.  You think you're so smart, but you're not better than me.  I know the Koch Brothers hired hookers to blow you through million dollar bills.  Besides, everything is politics, man.  Open your eyes to your own foolish conservative fucktardedness.  And if you're going to stick to being an agenda-less pussy, at least explain why you broke ranks with those Koch bastards and did your damn science?

Which takes us to the part that I found revelatory.  Muller responded to the question (which was really why he thinks it's so important that we know that climate change is caused by humans), with:

If we are at cause, we can do something about it.  If we're not at cause, if it's the solar variation, which we ruled out in our current study, then it's hopeless.  We just have to wait for it to happen.  But if we're causing it, we can do something about it. 

This viewpoint blew my mind.  Granted, I have a long and storied history of thinking I've struck upon some truly radical way of seeing the world but when I, all goggle-eyed, present it to other people they often say, "Uh... ka DUH!"  (I like to hang around with people who articulate at the same lofty rhetorical standards to which I hold myself).  So, it might be that this is just obvious to people who are smarter than I am. But I think seeing the fact that global warming is caused by humans as a relief rather than an awesome burden is a radical reframing of the issue.

It's like you think your house is going to burn down at any minute and then suddenly realize, "Oh, what a relief!  It's not that a fireball is hurtling inexorably towards my front door.  I just have to turn the burners down on the stove!" It's not all doom and gloom. It's not God's judgment.  It's a problem that is within our control to fix.  Let's crack a beer and get to work.

I don't know, made me feel better anyway.  It enables us to cast global warming in a way that feeds our substantial egos (we can fix this!) rather than scolds us for our substantial over-consumption (god, turn down the AC, you fat lazy fuckers).

Do you think Barack Obama has thought of it this way?  I'd better send him a note. He'll be so relieved.