Saturday, February 03, 2007

Turning the Heat Up


"Stop global warming….start global cooling. Make the world a giant icebox!" – The Penguin (Danny DeVito), Batman Returns (1992)


Does anyone really think the last Ice Age would have ended if it weren't for climate change…if it weren't for global warming? We have the world we have, and not one full of wooly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers, because of global warming. Should we blame humanity for global warming? Only that portion of it which humanity is responsible for. For all the rest, blame the Earth – spinning on its axis, tens of millions of miles away from the Sun – and, if you're so inclined, thank God.

I would have been more satisfied if all of the recent talk about global warming paid a little more attention to the global warming of the past 10,000 years or so, instead of just the past six years of the Bush Administration. I mean really, though we hear scientists mentioning that their studies have been ongoing, one would think that – for all of the criticism – President Bush caused the death of the mammoths.

Most interesting to hear would be the opinion of the GEICO cavemen, those shaggy leftovers from a bygone era who aren't happy that signing up for GEICO is referred to as being "so easy, even a caveman can do it". Or, we could just pop in a tape of that perennial classic, "Encino Man", and muse over what Brendan Fraser's caveman character might think about a world much warmer than the one he knew before he froze solid and Pauley Shore defrosted him.

I think we should look at global warming and its potential effect on our lives the same way we look at technology. Who, today, can imagine a world without iPods or other MP3 players? If you, like me, ride the subway almost every day in New York City, it's difficult to find someone who doesn't have some sort of miniscule music-listening device. All too quickly, we've gone from reading or talking on our commute home to hiding behind the music. Didn't take too much of an adjustment.

If humanity can adapt that quickly to new technology, who is to say we couldn't do the same to a new environment? It isn't as if we're totally clueless when it comes to dealing with climate change. Anyone who has lived in a place where it is bitingly cold in January and oppressively hot and humid in July – or commuted between a mountain city and coastal city daily – learns to adjust, deal with it, or move someplace else.

And hello, human beings have managed to survive thousands of years of global warming already. If our species' ancestors had not managed to do so well in spite of global warming, our planet would likely look very different than it does today.

Yes, changes in the environment, wrought by human-caused and natural global warming (natural global warming, of course, having been around much longer than human industrial plants and waste-dumping into rivers), will affect many different aspects of our lives. It will probably require an adjustment to our dining habits, as fish or birds or whatever we like migrate someplace else or die out.

And yes, we should do something to curb those elements of global warming which are causing natural global warming to proceed faster than it normally would. I'm not arguing not to do something about global warming. I'm merely stating that it's not something to panic over. Sure, I'm skinny, and I like hiding that as much as possible under long-sleeved shirts.

When it gets warmer, though – when, not if – I will make necessary changes. I already like to think about working out, and building muscles, so I don't look so laughably, ah, slim in many t-shirts and polo shirts. Maybe global warming can help me to finally stop thinking, and start acting – I'm constantly making pledges to myself to do more push-ups than I already do, but living up to those not too often. If I must wear short-sleeves more often, I'll have no choice. Or, I'll just be really uncomfortable.

I'm not freaking out about global warming. Though Al Gore might be miffed to hear it, it's not such an inconvenient truth to me; at least, it's not any more inconvenient a truth than that represented by death. And it's important to remember we didn't start the warming. I do think it's irresponsible to deny that global warming is happening, but then again, that's hardly more irresponsible than the demagoguery we're being fed by the anti-global warming activists of "the end is nigh" variety.


Montie said...

Spot on, Jeremy. But way too rational for the vast majority of idiots out there. We have a hugh billboard on Speedway...all yellow background and to two checkboxes under the heading of Global Warming
Box one ---do nothing
Box two ---the website for countering global warming

I know it is socially irresponsible to do nothing but I don't think I will join the nutters either.

Thanks for the blog!

Anne & Grayson said...

It was -10 last night...yay global warming.