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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

When hell freezes over

I’ll just get it out in the open: I don’t care what happens in the climate change debate. Not even a made up word like “”fidoodling”” can describe what people have done to turn an environmental issue into a political one. As a consequence, I don’t care terribly much anymore.

Start with this week’s scandal, labeled by some as “”Climategate””: someone hacked and leaked e-mails among members from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. According to some, these e-mails expose unscientific climate change research. This research — “”bologna”” in delicatessen jargon — includes creepy collaboration in squelching dissent, corrupting the peer-review process, and manipulating or terminating data seen to be an inconvenient truth (everyone is using this poke at Gore and I won’t be the odd man out). Frankly, all of this is unsurprising, but apparently the correct response is to feign shock and awe.

Before we get into the specifics however, there are, of course, some issues with this story.

First, using the term “”Xgate,”” where X is a noun related to the subject of a recent scandal, is scandalous all on its own. If someone does it again, I swear that there’ll be a MyElbowInYourThroatGate, where I will inflict so much pain that the offender will die and come back to life in the form of a polar bear on a melting ice cube. Even worse, there will be no Coca-Cola bottle in sight, and thus the polar bear will not have its primary form of sustenance.

The second issue with the story is that many of global warming’s skeptics are similarly biased. Everyone needs money, and it only makes sense that the money used toward research comes from interested parties such as whacko environmental groups and oil and coal companies. Public money also comes, however, from politicians who don’t really know much about the topic except that if they support anti-global warming bills they can often get more votes because they’re saving the world. Gee, are those the Planeteers up on Capitol Hill?

Science, of course, is still trustworthy. Yet scientists can lose credibility. Forget the fact that just a few decades ago, many of the same climate change researchers were saying that we were heading into an ice age. Ignore the idea that the typical global warming warrior seems to have an inordinate hatred for America’s finer points. Really, it’s not that there’s no such thing as a climate trend towards warming, but rather that global warming folks always seem to take an extreme route.

The tendency is that advocates of anti-global warming initiatives leave out the notions of us emerging from a cool period, leave out any contradicting evidence, blame nearly everything on the carbon dioxide emissions of humans, and act like the world is on the verge of a catastrophe that can be averted if we would only drive Prius hybrids and cars that look like doorstops. It’s just like my middle school science textbook that predicted the annihilation of America by garbage would happen two years before I even read the book. Perhaps there are other reasons for this radicalism, but it seems that the overriding reason is the politicization of the issue.

Politicization enriches extremists, rewards politicians for launching poorly-conceived bills to attack the economic freedom of Americans and rewards the other politicians for claiming its all hogwash. In other words, the issue is more about politics and money than about the principle of providing reliable global prosperity.

If we were more focused on this principle, we would be spending far more of the time, attention, and resources on various other issues such as hunger, disease, poverty. Perhaps a consensus will eventually be reached, but as far as the current core facts are concerned, there’s no overwhelming crisis and there’s not necessarily that much the government can do about it.

So screw it all. The next time someone says “”global warming,”” my suggestion is to think for half a second if it’s even worth your time to listen.

— Daniel Greenberg is a Near Eastern studies senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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