My friend Linda is a wealth of aphorisms and wisdom gleaned from the women in her family–her mother and her aunts. I keep a list of phrases passed down through the family tree. “It’s better to rust out than to rot out.” “She who hides can find.” And “We might as well be drunk as the way we are.”
But one of the funniest is: “People are dumber than anybody.”
This came to mind as I read about two developments in the last week.
First was the opinion piece published by the Wall Street Journal on January 27th titled No Need to Panic About Global Warming, submitted and signed by 16 scientists who say “that nothing should be done about CO2 for several decades.”
There has been enormous push-back from the larger scientific community over the egregiously misleading claims made in the WSJ piece. The Union of Concerned Scientists posted one of the best rebuttals. And the letters to the editor are too good to miss.
On the WSJ website, there is also a video interview with William Happer of Princeton, the lead author of the editorial. In it, the WSJ editorial page assistant editor, in an astonishingly goofy manner, evokes “global warming hysteria”, stumbles over the name of the United Nations IPCC–(clearly not to be taken seriously)–and can’t resist bringing “climategate” into the conversation.
Herding citizens toward cities
Second, is the reporting in Saturday’s New York Times titled Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot. The piece begins: ”Across the country, activists with ties to the Tea Party are railing against all sorts of local and state efforts to control sprawl and conserve energy. They brand government action for things like expanding public transportation and preserving open space as part of a United Nations-led conspiracy to deny property rights and herd citizens toward cities.”
In Some/Home, I have always been careful to maintain the distinction between a thoughtful piece and a rant. But these two items are pushing me toward the edge.
Specifically, I fear that irreparable damage has been done by the WSJ piece. In Washington, “climate change is already a four-letter word.” Is there any way in which President Obama or any other candidate for public office can cut through the morass of disinformation? The answer is pretty clear: in this climate, the issue would be a un-winnable drag on his or her campaign.
What do you know about Agenda 21?
In the NYT article, I learned for the first time about the 1992 United Nations resolution called Agenda 21: “a sweeping but non-binding resolution designed to encourage nations to use fewer resources and conserve open land by steering development to already dense areas.”
It has become a flash point for the paranoia-driven protests against sustainability. Tea Party activists cite the belief that man-made global warming is a hoax, and that the U.N. is imposing a one-world order.
But this is just the fringe that refuses to be told what kind of light bulb they can buy, right? Apparently not: ”In January, the Republican Party adopted its own resolution against what it called “the destructive and insidious nature” of Agenda 21.
Linda’s mother was right. People are dumber than anybody.