Saturday, January 03, 2009

Global Clowns

Sorry to keep picking on Keith Gessen of N+1 and global warming, but I'm struck by the absurdity of someone who clings to a disproven belief.

It's like believing in the existence of real clowns. You know: clowns who are that way permanently. Born clowns.

Now, I'm as gullible as the next person, and without much thinking about it I could've accepted the existence of real clowns, red noses, floppy feet and all, in the same way I accepted global warming without much thinking about it. But one day I saw Jellyboy the Clown putting on clown paint and realized there probably weren't real clowns. The truth was in front of me. "Okay. There aren't real clowns."

Gessen by contrast would not see this. He wouldn't acknowledge what he'd witnessed himself. Much rather would he believe what he'd read in clown textbooks, or seen in clown movies. He and his journal have made a huge psychological investment in the existence of real clowns. Unsmiling, he would insist, "Yes, there are real clowns even if there don't seem to be, even if they're not here now, and when they return there will be real clowns forever!"

(Did Gessen have a traumatic childhood? Issues about Santa Claus? From where this need to believe?)

It's the same way he treats global warming. I picture him stuck in Moscow, his Lada car buried under eight feet of snow, Gessen himself frozen worse than Omar Sharif in "Dr. Zhivago," and Gessen waves his arms and shouts through chattering teeth, "Flee north! The heat is unbearable!"

Given that half the planet is frozen in as severe a winter as there's ever been, it's difficult to argue the warming issue; as difficult as it is, once you've seen greasepaint, to argue for permanent clowns.

Then again, Gessen would say-- despite the evidence-- that the issue has NOT been disproven.

"After all, how do we know?" he tells you in a rational moment. "I've read very sophisticated arguments. How do we really KNOW there aren't real clowns?"

As he says this, he holds in his hand a copy of his journal, which makes the logic of his argument irrefutable.


Anonymous said...

Your dismissal of global warming says more about your contempt for the establishment than it does anything else. Climate change theories posit a trend of increasing global average temperatures--not a continuously increasingly temperature in every corner of the globe.

Is it "fact"? No, it's a theory. You may in fact be right about it, although not for the reasons that you keep mentioning. What happens in a given place in a given year does not disprove (nor does it prove) the theory. What is claimed is that current trends indicate a long-term increase in global temperatures, not that winter will end tomorrow.

However, you should bear in mind that you are definitely swimming against a tide made up of far more than Keith Gessen and his friends at n+1. The essential premise that a process of gradual global warming has occurred and will continue to occur as the result of the concentration of so-called greenhouse gases (a phenomenon that was first identified almost two hundred years ago) has been endorsed by the major scientific groups and academies in each of the industrialized countries of the world. Among the scientists who oppose the conclusions of such groups, most of them agree that global warming is occurring, but disagree as to its causes or as to its ultimate effects. There's precious little evidence to speak of that the concept of global warming is the result of a conspiracy, much less the manipulations of minor literary stars.

Thank you for your attention.

King Wenclas said...

Conspiracy? Not really. Hysteria more than conspiracy.
I'm dismissing not so much global warming as global warming hysteria-- the belief, for instance, that the polar ice caps will vanish in our lifetimes. Think of the egoism of this conceit-- we're here for a geological microsecond, yet the kind of geological change that happens once a billion years will happen now! Amazing.
The future isn't a fact, isn't a certainty. The last folks to believe that were Marxists. They were, um, mistaken-- but their attachment to their ideology was similar to those attached to the global warming ideology. (Which, as others have noted, is more akin to a religion.)
Al Gore and Company have treated the issue as if there was NO DOUBT about it. Which is ridiculous to start with.
Yes, there are periods of cooling and of warming. The weather is very variable. THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT. Why would anyone think a decade or so of warming would signify planetary catastrophe?
(What of the 1930's dustbowl? Why no hysteria then?)
The planet is in fact an amazing mechanism, self-correcting for the minor irritations we humans represent.
Carbon hysteria? We should remember that, we, um, are carbon life forms.
Re trends. I know a little about them. If you know my biography, you know I worked twenty years ago for a commodity trader, which included the futures market. I charted hundreds of contracts, most very dependent on weather issues. (I also studied climate cycles, to a very intense extent back then.) One realizes that you can't predict too far ahead, but also the usefulness of trends.
Whatever modest brief global warming trend existed for earth has been strongly broken with this recent cold spell-- which is why I feel free to mock pseudo-intellectuals like Mr. Gessen, who knows postmodern philosophy but really not much else, nice fellow that he is. In the language of the trade, the cold spell was not a correction-- it was a reversal.
Plot it out on a graph and see for yourself.
Odds are, based simply on this, that the hypothesis of extreme global warming is ridiculous. 99%. Which is how I've "bet" the issue with my recent comments.
Sinch N+1 implied we'll all be living at the poles by 2040, let's call that the wager's end date, and see where we stand then!