Here Thar Be Monsters!

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15.3.10

A Smidgen of Curmudgeon

H.L. Mencken had it right: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed – and hence clamorous to be led to safety – by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

Maybe you’ve heard of Climategate? In short, the University of East Anglia and the IPCC, the epicenters of Climate Change data and regulation, have been shown to be frauds. (see here for details: http://www.climate-gate.org/)

One of the safest bets I know is that, if everyone is rushing for the same exit, it’s better to look for another one. That personal philosophy has served me well, though it has brought repeated harassment and ridicule. "Little Big Man" has been one of my favorite movies for, among other things, a scene involving a "contrary" who bathes with dust and dries off with water, and rides his horse backwards. I like that guy!

In 1998, I began working with groups who wanted to separate Texas from the Union. The reasons for this movement are as diverse as the people involved, though they generally group around oppressive taxation, outrageous regulation and the general steaming pile of politics coming from Washington. I was called almost every derogatory name in Webster’s. Now the current governor of Texas has mentioned secession and a woman who ran for governor was riding a tide of sentiment based on her platform that was nearly identical to the independence groups.

In 1999, I sold all of my stocks and cashed out my 401(k), sold my house (and rented it back), bought gold and silver bullion, and advised everyone I knew to do the same. The howls of laughter ceased only long enough to throw a few barbed epithets, and then resumed again. At the time, gold was selling at $260 an ounce, silver was steady at $5 an ounce and the Dow was soaring at all-time highs. A year later, the Dow had crashed, gold and silver were climbing to new record prices. Gold is now at $1,100, silver at $15, the Dow is struggling to hold 10,000, and house prices have dived at historic rates.

I still have it in my sent box, too. It’s dated December 18, 1999.

The biggie was a subject which no one was allowed to question. I was literally yelled at, came close to blows a couple of times, and was soundly derided for holding my point of view. My position as contrarian was generally tolerated on most subjects, but I could never, EVER speak against the Holy Doctrine of Global Warming.

Incidentally, Global Warming, somewhere along the way, became Climate Change. I suppose that way one could argue that moving from Canada to Panama was proof of of Climate Change’s existence.

Anyway, my argument was reasoned and multi-faceted. First, carbon dioxide is a weak greenhouse gas. The only way to control warming is to ban water vapor on a planet that is 2/3 water. Next, I reasoned, a warmer climate and more carbon dioxide would benefit crops, thereby feeding more people. Two birds with one stone, I thought. Third, I believe it is the height of hubris for people to think they can affect global climate in roughly a hundred years. The system is far too large and complex for a little car exhaust to do that much damage. Fourth, the geologic record had already demonstrated that Earth had survived (nay, thrived) in periods far more extreme that anything the Gorevians were predicting. Fifth, scientists will say anything for grant money. And sixth, if everyone is running to the Global Warming side of the ship, then its safer to be on the other side.

I was released from a teaching job because I refused to teach Climate Change as gospel. Rather I chose to teach students critical thinking and healthy skepticism. One friend has refused to talk to me because I would not believe in Climate Change. He still won’t answer my email, only now I think he is just embarrassed. He argued that even if Global Warming doesn’t happen, the change in lifestyle enforced on people would be a good thing. I countered that if wrong, it would have the effect of the boy who cried wolf, it would discredit real science, and the result would be people increasing bad behaviors as a reaction to having been deceived.

One of the most curious arguments against my orneriness is that I don’t care about future generations. The people espousing this argument are of the generation which has completely, financially screwed at least the next three generations through greed, avarice and a profound self-centeredness. One almost has to wonder if they wanted Climate Change to happen to cover the tracks of their crimes. A scapegoat, as it were.

There are two aspects of human behavior that remain unchanged throughout all history: people will do anything to avoid being ridiculed, and people react badly to being forced to change. Therefore, humans become herd animals en masse to maintain the status quo. It’s a self-reinforcing circle of self-interest.

In my lifetime, I have been told that acid rain would destroy civilization, a new ice age was forming, and the world would end as a great desert surrounded by ocean. I was told that jogging down polluted city streets was healthy, led by a guru who died of a massive coronary at 55 while jogging. I was told that the cholesterol in eggs would kill me and a few years later I was told I needed that same cholesterol.

I have been told that Jesus is coming any minute now to finish His Work. In fact, He has been expected any minute for 2,000 years. My father once burned up 50 acres and a barn thinking the neighbor would be there any minute to plow a fire-break.

Basically, being a contrarian has served me extremely well, though I have had to endure a lot of crap because of it. The way I see it, the world won’t end, though it may become hostile to humans. If I read all the data correctly, if I exercise daily, eat only vegetables, avoid unnecessary risks, and live in a padded room, I can expect to live about 75 years. Or I can enjoy my life and get about the same quantity with a lot more quality.


Of course, we could get hit by an asteroid tomorrow.

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