So, my sixteen-year-old is off doing “good deeds” to celebrate Earth Day. A Wall Street Journal editorial today concludes with one of those Churchill aphorisms:
So next time someone tells you that climate change is more dangerous than terrorism, bear in mind . . . Churchill once said: “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”
Since 1970, carbon monoxide emissions in the U.S. are down 55%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Particulate emissions are down nearly 80%, and sulfur dioxide emissions have been reduced by half. Lead emissions have declined more than 98%. All of this has been accomplished despite a doubling of the number of cars on the road and a near-tripling of the number of miles driven, according to Steven Hayward of the Pacific Research Institute.
Of course, these percentages are not unlike those the Green Revolution, headed by scientists like Borlaug, produced. As life gets better, we have more time to navel gaze.
Side note: I’m always struck by the despair & nihilism of 20th century lit as opposed to, say, 17th century. Then, well, things were a lot tougher – a mother could expect to see a real percentage of her children die before her, food shortages, great pain, fear were a part of life in ways we can not understand. Perhaps good times free our minds to think, but, being human, we spend those thoughts hypothesizing problems. Probably that’s a pretty good adaptation technique – if we didn’t worry we might lose our problem-solving skills. But perhaps we’ve gotten soft: it’s a lot easier to worry about the problems Gore hypothesizes than, well, the old big ones: like we are going to sin & die. And like why do some of us think our culture is worth neither defending nor reproducing? Or, even ones more specific & timely – we sense Gore’s comments are overblown; we are less sure those coming out of Iran are. Therefore, scaring ourselves with Gore’s predictions is more comfortable than meditating on Ahmadinejad’s.