Glenn K. Beaton: Aspen’s warnin’ warminites are chillin’
The Aspen Beat
Remember those predictions that polar bears and snow would soon be extinct?
Well, here in Aspen and throughout the Colorado mountains, snowpack this spring is nearly 500% of normal. That’s not a typo. It’s almost five times normal.
The ski mountain at Aspen has reopened for skiing every weekend in June, including this weekend. Even the locals — a pretty discerning bunch — say we had a season beyond epic.
None of the growing polar bear population has been sighted in Aspen, yet, but the black bears often seen in town must be getting nervous.
Does this mean that global warming, or whatever is the nom du jour, is a hoax?
No. It’s true that the earth has warmed a couple of degrees in the past few hundred years. It’s likely that some of that warming was caused by humans. If that warming continues or accelerates, we’ll see disruption.
Some of that disruption might be good, such as bigger crop yields, but some will be bad such as an inability of some species to adapt or migrate quickly enough.
But here’s what it does mean. It means that rhetoric predicting the end of the world is indeed a hoax. For example:
Al Gore, who earned a science degree from — oh wait, Gore’s degree is in government. He received C’s and D’s in the few science classes he took. And he avoided math classes altogether.
Anyway, Gore predicted in 2008 that the polar ice cap would be gone within five years. Eleven years later, it’s approximately where it was when Gore made his prediction.
Prince Charles said in 2009 that we have only “100 months” left to “avoid that living hell of the nightmare that for so many of us now looms on the horizon.” Four months later he doubled down in prophesizing that we had only 96 months left till the end days. At least he got the arithmetic right, if not the science or writing.
But by my own arithmetic, two years ago was the expiration of the Prince’s 100 months till that looming living hell of a nightmare came over the horizon.
One of the Prince’s court jesters at the time, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, duly warned everyone back in 2009 that they had only 50 days to avert “catastrophe.”
Maybe Gore, the Prince and the Prime Minister are right that the end is nigh, if not past, but it hasn’t persuaded them to give up their mega-mansions and palaces. Sacrifice is for little people.
Closer to home, Aspen’s warning warminites were sweating a few years back that “the fate of the ski industry was in jeopardy.” I can see the future headlines in our local newspapers: “World ends, ski industry suffers most.”
And if their predictions are right, they lamented, life would get much harder for eagles and hawks and “we humans could suffer a similar fate.”
Although they like eagles and hawks, and certainly skiing, these doomsdayers always seem to root against us humans. As between their gloomy predictions and our humanity, they’re rooting for their predictions.
Of course, as a matter of science, neither a dry winter nor a snowy one proves or disproves global warming. But the warminites’ refrain that heat is global warming while cold is just weather is getting tiresome, even to them. So they’re mostly quiet now.
Don’t get me wrong. We should take global warming seriously. We should stop wasting fossil fuels if for no reason other than they’re limited and waste is sinful. In America in particular, we should stop buying oversized, overpowered vehicles that serve our ego and insecurities more than our transportation needs and driving abilities.
One of the smartest things we could do is to build more nuclear power plants. They of course must be built safely, and they can be. France gets 75% of its electricity from nuclear power, while the U.S. gets only 20%.
What we don’t need is more alarmism to shake people from their quiescence. That’s not science; it’s marketing.
The problem with this marketing approach is that after a few false alarms, people stop listening. It’s like a furniture store that has a going-out-of-business sale for years on end. That’s why global warming ranks near the bottom of the list of issues on the minds of voters.
The way to change that is not to shout louder. The way to change that is to explain calmly the costs, risks and benefits.
And let’s be honest and humble about what we know and don’t know. Let’s respect the citizens enough to use sound science and rational economics, not misleading marketing and coercive government.
An acknowledgment by the warminites that many of their past predictions were wrong would be a good start.
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Vagneur: Today’s the big local’s day, even though the celebrating may need to be a bit different this year.