ORGANIZER: Uh...o.k., you're checked in. Here's your AIDS ribbon.
KRAMER: Uh, no thanks.
ORGANIZER: You don't want to wear an AIDS ribbon?
ORGANIZER: But you have to wear an AIDS ribbon.
KRAMER: I have to?
KRAMER: See, that's why I don't want to.
ORGANIZER: But everyone wears the ribbon. You must wear the ribbon!
KRAMER: You know what you are? You're a ribbon bully.
ORGANIZER: Hey you! Come back here! Come back here and put this on!
before michael richards recently became a stand-up pariah, he was just that goofy neighbor on seinfeld who got his laughs through a mixture of discombobulated physical comedy and his general insistence on marching to the beat of his own drummer. for instance, when kramer signs up for the aids walk he stays up the whole night before the walk playing poker and when he checks-in he refuses the AIDS ribbon he is given.
now, in the debate over global warming, i seem to have encountered my own aids ribbon. i believe that temperatures on average are warmer today than they were a hundred years ago. i believe that the release of greenhouse gasses traps heat in our atmosphere and exacerbates warming trends. i believe in, and practice, the three r’s – reduce, reuse and recycle- as a means of lessening our negative impact. i believe that the development of so-called “green” technologies presents an enormous opportunity for a cleaner and more energy-efficient world. all that being said, i’m not sure i believe in global warming; not in the sense of a catastrophic, man-made disaster that threatens to hit a tipping point in the next ten, or even fifty, years.
to me it’s a perfectly reasonable position. it’s not calculated to shock environmentalists and is only partially due to my contrarian nature. nonetheless, this view is often greeted with the sort of incredulous looks i had always assumed were being saved for biblical fundamentalists who say they don’t believe in dinosaurs or evolution. “what do you mean you don’t believe in global warming? it’s not debatable. all of those science types and al gore believe it. so, why don’t you?”.
so, why don’t i?
an environmentalist might tell you it’s because i’m a conservative right-winger with an anti-intellectual bent for dismissing scientific fact, or that i’m too addicted to my fossil fuel guzzling lifestyle to think objectively, or maybe i’m just an “exx-con”.
part of the reason that I don’t believe in global warming can be seen in the backlash against climate skepticism. case in point is this article. there is something quite unsavory about the belief that we’ve reached the end of all skepticism in any arena of human knowledge. it’s as if climatologists and green activists got together and decided, “... if we don’t make our case in the most alarmist and hyperbolic language possible, then nobody will take us seriously”. perhaps there is a grain of truth in that sentiment, but we don’t organize our beliefs and set policy around grains of truth.
i don’t question global warming so exxon can continue to make big profits or to justify america’s love of big cars or a personal desire to burn as much fossil fuel as i can. i question global warming because i worry about the economic impact of ill-conceived alarmist policies.