Don’t any of these people watch Doctor Who?


Are you sitting down?

(You probably should. Ready? Ok…)

Apparently, the solution for global warming is…

(Seriously. Go get yourself a cool washcloth. You’re going to need it. And then get comfortable in your chair. Make sure you are positioned in a way that won’t allow you to fall too easily. Ready? Ok…)

Apparently, the solution for global warming is…

…more air conditioning.

I shit you not.

(And I think the use of the swear in this case was amazingly appropriate and justified. I mean come on… more air conditioning? Yup. Here we go…)

See, global warming is out of control. You’ve heard that. And, as you have undoubtedly been told, that’s bad.

So, President Obama’s science advisor has acknowledged that one solution being looked at, falling under a broader category called geoengineering, is artificially cooling down the environment.

(And to give a more well known term to artificially cooling down we would say… you’ve got it now… air conditioning for all of the outdoors. Hey… don’t blame me… I told you to sit down. There is no word in the article I linked to about whether or not John Holdren also advised Obama not to trade his cupcake for the celery sticks during recess, but I kind of would like to think he got that one right.)

I guess I really shouldn’t be too surprised. The simple truth of the matter is… and I am being 100% serious about this… we don’t know what to do. No one does. All anyone can do is guess. And in all honesty, Holdren’s comments aren’t too hideous on the surface. He notes that the option is being considered, and that in his mind… and I would like to add, in his mind quite correctly at that… no thought should be casually tossed away.

But I have a problem with all of this stuff. And here’s why…

I think that as a whole people are often too quick to act. Someone spots a cause… everyone agrees that the cause matters… and so a group decides that something has to be done because we can’t just allow the night to fall while doing nothing. The problem is that while doing nothing overall is not the answer in virtually all of these crisis scenarios, momentarily doing nothing while looking over options and considering ramifications of actions usually does less damage than the initial something that was rushed into.

See… I don’t think alot of do-gooders look before they leap. They simply have good intentions… translate good intentions as the absolute equivalent of positive steps… and, well, then they jump. And years later we’re left with a mess to clean up. Often not the original mess… a different mess… but no less of a mess and often significantly more expensive and more dangerous.

Do any of you remember the artificial reef of tires off the coast of Florida? No? Ok…

Back in 1972, approximately two million… that’s 2,000,000… two MILLION… two million tires were dumped off the coast of Florida. Intentions were good. See… those used tires caused an amazing hassle, and potential environmental concern, when disposed of on land. Someone decided the fish would love them.

Thirty plus years later it turns out the fish have less use for used tires than we do. In fact, it seems that they hate them. And… go figure… the tires are actually bad for the water and marine life. And to top it all off… many tires have broken loose and floated away from the dump site, causing all sorts of other headaches.

And that isn’t it for tires folks. You’ve heard about the playgrounds… right?

Here’s a great quote from Jack Sobel I want you to keep in mind as we leave the tires but not the issue of looking and leaping. Seriously… awesome thought… “I believe that people who were behind the artificial tire reef promotions actually were well-intentioned and thought they were doing the right thing. In hindsight, we now realize that we made a mistake.”

Yup… good stuff there. And now… Bill Nye… fiberglass…

I was watching a show called Stuff Happens the other day. Bill Nye was on it. And basically, during an episode he shows how certain things can be associated with each other. How this leads to that… how one thing can cause another… and, long story short, that when you do one thing, other stuff happens.

On this particular day I was watching as he was taking a look at fiberglass.

While fiberglass has a long and diverse history, one of the chapters in the fiberglass book would have to be how fiberglass insulation was there when asbestos fears were realized and acted upon. My time line may be off… but asbestos out and fiberglass in works as a general train of thought.

And so why was fiberglass on Bill Nye’s show? Because… there is a danger involving fiberglass when it comes to fires and formaldehyde. You know… dangers beyond the general concerns about fiberglass and all the inhalation risks that exist to begin with when you are handling, and breathing near fine strands of shredded glass.

Originally a nightmare to work with, but a godsend compared to the alternative… yeah… fiberglass wasn’t so god sent after all.

(Now let’s see if I can bring all of this together.)

As Sobel so eloquently points out, even the best of intentions aren’t necessarily the best things to do. And as Nye shows, the solution to one problem quite often creates another problem.

Both simple concepts… and both ideas I have been preaching since before I began this web site.

As I’ve said before… over and over and over again, and will continue to say… I will never tell you we aren’t treating the planet horrendously. One look at the trash tossed from cars by the side of the road near my house is more than enough evidence of that for me.

And efforts to be more friendly to the environment will find me a sympathetic listener, and often an active participant in helping the cause. Car pooling… I like it. Recycling… sure. More efficient forms of energy production… I’m listening.

But as much as people want to jump all over the extinction of some species of wildlife and global warming with alarm bells and sirens and fast action… well… look…

We’ve had species face extinction for pretty much as long as the planet has been around. And, what a coincidence, we’ve had even more erratic climate changes on the planet over its history than those of the past dozen years (and then some).

It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do something to try prevent these losses. I just think we should give some consideration to the general notion that it wasn’t car fumes and all sorts of other horrible things that caused an extinction or thirty to occur three thousand years ago. To quote Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park: “The lack of humility before nature that’s being displayed here, uh... staggers me.” (And Goldblum fires off several other quotes that would work here in a similar fashion.)

Take a look at those tires again. Artificial reefs were made of them in several locations. All of them have failed, and failed miserably.

In recent years… mercury is back. It’s in those great light bulbs that take ten minutes to warm up. Are we 100% certain about the safety of that mercury? Because every time I see it asked, I see people waving off the claim saying things like (my words): “No… no… small, small, insignificant amounts… and as long as it’s handled properly…” And (I’m sure you’re stunned by this), I use those light bulbs. And you know what? In my research and experience handling them, limited thought it may be to a global scale of use, they seem to drop and fall and break way more often than regular light bulbs.

Let’s get back to John Holdren. Because the ending here is just that I want to know. Is the answer to the damage done to the environment with actions like air conditioning our homes really creating a giant artificial air conditioner? (And I ask that without making a joke about kids doing their part to save the planet by leaving the windows open in a house with the air conditioning on. Although a “windows open for the planet day” in August of 2011 or such would be almost as funny to hear about as duct tape to help fight off a chemical attack.)

We need to keep in mind that doing something is not necessarily better than doing nothing. In fact, some of the things being done may turn out to be things that need to be undone. Every action has a reaction… and I don’t hear enough people asking questions about how they plan to handle the reactions when nature decides to respond.

And if you don’t believe me… then quick… do you have those mercury-bulbs in your house? Ok… and how do you dispose of them? No… I mean it… what places accept them for disposal? You did know they needed to be disposed of in a special way… right?

If there’s one thing I do know for absolute certain, it’s that you can never underestimate incompetence. (Well… I mean, you can underestimate it, but you should never assume someone isn’t capable of it.) For every one of us that does actually give a damn and is willing to take the time to learn what they can do AND how to do it… there’s five or so people that didn’t know the mercury bulbs shouldn’t be placed in regular trash, or, just tossed them in the regular trash because they couldn’t be bothered to find out where to bring them in their local community.

It annoys me that people seem to think that the supposedly correct things to do today couldn’t possibly be the wrong things to do. And in the end, that’s why Holdren is 100% right…

Nothing should just be dismissed.

But… by not dismissing it, there is a responsibility involved to not just consider it, but to really think about it before doing it.


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