Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid. Or Not.

John Tierney continues his crusade to minimize global warming with a column titled In 2008, a 100 Percent Chance of Alarm :

I’d like to wish you a happy New Year, but I’m afraid I have a different sort of prediction.

You’re in for very bad weather. In 2008, your television will bring you image after frightening image of natural havoc linked to global warming. You will be told that such bizarre weather must be a sign of dangerous climate change — and that these images are a mere preview of what’s in store unless we act quickly to cool the planet....

Slow warming doesn’t make for memorable images on television or in people’s minds, so activists, journalists and scientists have looked to hurricanes, wild fires and starving polar bears instead. They have used these images to start an “availability cascade”....The availability cascade is a self-perpetuating process: the more attention a danger gets, the more worried people become, leading to more news coverage and more fear.
Naturally, this gets its share of links from the wingnuts. Blue Crab Boulevard castigates "global warming hysterics"; hysterics about Iran and IslamoLiberal Terra are perfectly okay. Newsbusters slams the Lieberal Em-Ess-Em for global warming "alarmism"...and for failing to be alarmist about Iran and terrists under our beds within our borders. A. J. Strata is dismayed at "another year of 'The Sky Is Falling'"...even as he warns of imminent sky-type descent from Iran and U.S.-based terrists.

Where Terra is concerned, we have nothing to fear but not enough fear itself. Catastrophic climate change--not so much.

Just to be clear, I'm not slamming Tierney for that. He's a hack, and aggressively stupid about some things (like global warming), but to his credit he has tried to put terrorism in perspective (and from today's article: "we overestimate the odds of dying in a terrorist attack or a plane crash because we’ve seen such dramatic deaths so often on television").

It's the reflexive wingnuts I'm talking about--the ones who judge truth or falsehood solely on the basis of party/ideological/tribal affiliation. Little things like the relative likelihood and magnitude of impact don't matter; what matters is that Al Gore warns of one peril (so it's just hysteria), and George Bush harps on the other (so it's the Ultimate X-Treem Clash Of Civilization-Type Armageddoniffic Danger! Danger! Danger!).

What a bunch of useless tools.