OR WHY YOU CAN'T TRUST THE MASS MEDIA
Quite an interesting May 29 Newsweek magazine cover story from Sharon Begley. It's called, "Are You Ready for More?" Its subtitle is, "Freak Storms Are the New Normal." Its thesis is that the recent floods and killer tornadoes represent drastic manmade climate change which will drastically alter how we live within a decade or two. The article is 5% science and 95% hysteria.
Here's a typical quote from the piece:
"--one lesson is sinking in with terrifying certainty. The stable climate of the last 12,000 years is gone. Which means you haven't seen anything yet. And we are not prepared."
Begley then asks us to imagine a drastically changed world, where, for instance, California's Pacific Highway will have to be rerouted inland, through the mountains!
The language and the scenarios presented aren't objective. ("Terrifying.") What they are is exaggerated propaganda. The tipoff is the line about the "stable climate of the last 12,000 years."
Does anyone believe this? Really? 12,000 years of a stable if fragile planet, which we little organisms have irrevocably overturned. Do people buy this? Are Newsweek readers truly that gullible?
Hmm. Killer tornadoes. Haven't seen them before. Yet a quick check on wikipedia reveals that in 1925 the Tri-State Tornado killed 695 people in the same general Missouri part of the country, at a time when the United States was much less populated than it is now. An anomaly, surely.
There were killer tornadoes as far back as in Sicily in 1851. Or in Malta in 1551.
A check of the worst recorded natural disasters in history shows the 1931 China floods which killed 1,000,000 to 2,500,000, and the 1887 Yellow River floods which killed 900,000 to 2,000,000. Also on the list is the 1839 India Cyclone which killed a mere 300,000 people. What would Sharon Begley say if that occurred now?
Well, there is the Missippippi flooding taking place right now. What about that?
We have to ask why the levees were built in the first place. Apparently there'd been flooding before. Like the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, which was the worst American flood during the microinstant of time that is American history.
As there are more people recording disasters now than ever before, and more people living on this planet, putting themselves in the way of such disasters, and since we have short lifespans during which anything that happens to us as individuals is very important, it's easy to see how a Sharon Begley could lose her head.
The underlying problem is that the "best" educated persons in America have been indoctrinated into a series of assumptions and myths, which have been so embedded into their fragile brains they're unable to question them. Global warming! And here comes a tornado. And it kills people! Ohmygod, the nightmare scenario is all coming true! Run to shelter! Before it's too late! Flee to the mountains!
The point for this blog is that the same sort of unquestioned unexamined assumptions underlie the behavior and opinions of the literary world.
Meanwhile, I wonder why Sharon Begley limited her period of climate stability to 12,000 years. Could it be that a few thousand years before that, drastic climate change wiped out the Neanderthals?-- when Europe changed from forests to grasslands within a single generation. Giving Neanderthals apparently no time to reroute their highways.
But after all, that's what they got for cooking over open fires and disturbing the climate!