Saturday, December 19, 2009

Garage Logic

I probably shouldn't have done it. I actually like Joe Soucheray, and I do enjoy his show. I don't even mind that he is a talking head. While, I'm at it, let me just also admit that I used to enjoy listening to Rush Limbaugh. I know, I know, talking heads and Fox news hosts are, for the most part, right wing whackos. But, way back in 1991, I didn't know Fox news existed. I tuned into Rush and I thought what I was hearing was hilarious. I thought it was all schtick. Only after about a year of listening to him did I realize that his listeners, the diddo-heads, were actually taking everything he said seriously.

I still think, deep down, Rush is doing schtick and he knows his listeners and followers have a below average IQ. The same with Joe, although I am even more convinced that Joe is doing schtick. GLers are the same as diddo-heads, not the brightest bulbs on the tree. I think Joe plays to them and realizes that that's his money-ticket. But somedays, I'm not so convinced and the way he goes on about global warming makes me think, perhaps, hes not doing schtick and actually believes the majority of things he is saying. So, this week, I went and sent an email to his show.

Dear Joe,

I am a long-time casual listener to your afternoon show. By casual listener, I mean I have 1500 programmed into my radio on my afternoon ride home from work. When I get into my car, my radio is tuned to 1500 after listening to Patrick in the morning on my way into work. I have been a fan of Patrick and your radio talents since the long gone days of Monday Night Sports Talk. I enjoy your program because I think you are a good storyteller and I think your mythic creation of Garage Logic is (you are going to hate this) *cute.* But, I also have the local sports station and MPR programmed into my radio and sometimes there are certain topics discussed on your show that I know won’t hold my interest and these stations are waiting when I inevitably lose interest. One such topic is global warming.

First, let me begin by saying I do not believe in Global warming. I will tell you later what it is I do believe in, but first I want to say that I assume that I am like most people and I refuse to be forced to choose between either believing global warming is real or that global warming is a hoax perpetrated upon us by anti-capitalistic thugs. Only fanatics from either side would force us to choose one side or the other and you, I am afraid, are one of the fanatics. The reality is that none of us really know. We don’t know. We take certain things on faith. I cannot test the atmosphere, so I am forced to either believe scientific reports or dismiss them. There is nothing wrong with this conundrum. We are forced to do this everyday. Our brains can only handle so much information and we have limited time. I don’t have the expertise to analyze H1N1 with electron microscopes (if this is really how they analyze H1N1 viruses), so I have to either choose to believe scientists and get vaccinated or choose not to believe that H1N1 is really a dire threat that requires vaccination.

So, let me explain what is appealing about global warming theories and why the majority of people do not dismiss the scientists that warn us of the dangers, even as we readily dismiss the anti-capitalistic thugs gathered in Copenhagen who use global warming as a means to rant against capitalism and imperialism. See, Joe, you still have to account for the scientists. And, listen, I share your skepticism. I admire those people who choose not to believe everything told to them that are supported by the words, “consensus in the scientific community,” or other words to that effect. Science has a track record of being wrong as many times as it has been right. In fact, that is the essence of science. Science is a continual striving to come up with better and better theories and the theories of today will be replaced with new theories tomorrow. So, taking on faith, certain truths, just because there is scientific consensus, is foolish. We have to admit, sometimes, that, sometimes science is wrong and also that scientists are humans with self-interest goals just like all the rest of us. They want the glory of publications and they will protect their theories from attack by others leading to hiding emails, and slandering opponents, etc. There is a history of this amongst every field in science.

Now, what do the scientist tell us about global warming? What is it that is appealing about global warming that is appealing to the majority of us? What strikes me is that there are certain things we take on faith that no one disputes. I cannot measure the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Nor, have I have made an analysis of the gases that result from burning fossil fuels. But, I haven’t heard anyone dispute that when you burn fossil fuel you use oxygen and create CO2. I also have not heard anyone dispute that CO2 levels have been increasing in the atmosphere over the past 50-100 years which coincides with increasing fossil fuel consumption around the world. The dispute seems to be around whether or not these increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have the ability to affect climate, which may in turn affect our way of life. I don’t know, but it seems plausible. Is it a certainty? Will it lead to disaster? Hell, if I know, but the underlying logic seems all right. And, yes, I still drive a car and live the typical American life with no remorse. I am just suggesting that the above logic seems sound.

What I believe is that there is a certain risk that man-made activities may eventually affect the climate on Earth enough that it may cause catastrophic effects in the future that could lead to the extinction of our species. I have no idea what that risk is. Nor, do I think this risk requires us to take immediate action. The risk might be incredibly small. Or it could be quite large. I have to take all of this information from both sides on faith, because I don’t know. Again, this is no different than knowing whether or not we should have made war in Iraq after 9/11 or whether we should increase the number of troops in Afghanistan today. There is a risk that terrorists are planning another attack on American soil, but I, personally, don’t know what that risk is. I don’t know whether immediate action was required back in 2003 in Iraq or if immediate action is required today in Afghanistan.

I know I don’t trust those who tell me to believe one way or another, because I know that those people do not know any better than I. Not George Bush, not Obama and not you. You all bore me. I am going to drive my slightly more ecologically friendly economy car, not because I want to save the world, but because it saves me money. I am going to be nice to everyone around me, whether a member of a Muslim, Christian, Jew or some other ethnic or religious community, because that is the only way I know to make peace in the world – by being nice to people around me. We are a “good” people as you said on your show yesterday. But, so are the Danish and the Iraqis and the Pakistanis and the Cubans and so on. These are all “good” people with brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, grandparents and children. Hugo Chavez does not speak for the majority of these good people, nor does anyone else in Copenhagen. Don’t give them more power than they deserve. I am not sure who the supposed “scientific community” is that believes in global warming, but I know they are not the people we see ranting against capitalism and imperialism in Copenhagen.

What I will say is that trading CO2 permits makes sense to me. It is a capitalistic idea and it will place limits on the growth of CO2 in the atmosphere. It can be balanced with economic growth and monitored in the coming years with climate and extinction rates, ocean levels and other things scientists like to study, make reports on and offer recommendations. Having CO2 permits available for trade will not drastically change our lifestyles in America if it will change it all. There is no more reason to believe it will than to believe that if we don’t do anything catastrophe will inevitably strike. Because, either way, WE JUST DON”T KNOW!

So, don’t tell me to take a side in the debate and don’t suggest I need psychological help if I don’t join you in claiming that global warming is a hoax. I don’t know and neither do you.