4.10.2009

Holdren Channels Mr. Burns


I first heard about John Holdren's "climate hacking" ideas on NPR a few days ago. The short bit on Morning Edition described Holdren as saying that "we're near a tipping point" of catastrophic climate change, and we might have to take radical action. The two things listed were fake trees to vacuum up carbon and store it somehow (I thought real trees did that?) and shooting sulfur particles into the atmosphere, emulating a volcano, to block the sun's rays. There are some risks, such as burning off the ozone layer, but it's still an option that we must look into. Makes sense, right? Sure, we can't predict the weather accurately, even a few days out, but we have enough certainty to know that global warming is like being "in a car with bad brakes driving toward a cliff in the fog."

A couple Objectivist bloggers have weighed in on this topic already. Brian at Reality Talk notes the absurdity of it all:
In light of recent evidence suggesting that some part of global warming has been caused by cleaner air, which allows more sunlight to hit the Earth’s surface and the oceans, it should come as no surprise that President Obama’s new science advisor, John Holdren, would seriously consider pumping the atmosphere full of pollution particles. [links dropped, bold added]
Yup, the air is now too clean and we need to pollute it, on purpose, to save the planet.

Doug Reich digs deeper and finds fascinating parallels between the unfathomably irrational programs of brutal dictators like Mao -- the "Kill a Sparrow Campaign," and handing out fly swatters? -- and Holdren's radical geoengineering ideas. Read his whole post.

And this morning, James Taranto of the Wall St. Journal captured the pure insanity of the whole situation in his "Best of the Web" column. Under the heading, "Life Imitates The Simpsons," he writes:
Smithers: "Well, sir, you've certainly vanquished all your enemies: the elementary school, the local tavern, the old age home. You must be very proud."

Burns: "No, not while my greatest nemesis still provides our customers with free light, heat and energy. I call this enemy the sun. Since the beginning of time man has yearned to destroy the sun. I will do the next best thing--block it out!" [bold added]
I can picture the crazed professor, John Holdren, cackling with spittle on his beard, as he cries, "Prepare to ignite the Holdren Volcano-izer! On my mark!... FIRE!"

Yes, this is a very serious issue, but sometimes gallows humor or a good quote from The Simpsons helps to retain sanity.

4 comments:

Doug Reich said...

Awesome post and thanks for the mention. The Mr. Burns connection is hilarious - I remember that episode well - he made a great connection - also, I had not heard that GW was being caused by "cleaner air" - that is a new one - let me know if you have any more references on that - thanks again!

C. August said...

I hadn't heard about the "cleaner air" connection either. Brian's blog has a link to an article about it, but that's all I've seen.

Have you read Bernstein's "Capitalist Manifesto"? That was the first time I had heard of Lysenko and his absurd and ruinous attempt to bend science to Marxist ideology. I shouldn't be surprised to see that Mao adopted them for his "Great Leap Forward."

Anonymous said...

I thought that Bastiat had had something to say on this...

Unfair Competition With The Sun
By Frederic Bastiat
[From Frederic Bastiat, “Petition of the Manufacturers of Candles, Wax-Lights, Lamps, Candlesticks, Street Lamps, Snuffers, Extinguishers, and of the Producers of Oil, Tallow, Resin, Alcohol, and Generally, of Everything Connected with Lighting.” To messieurs the members of the Chamber of Deputies.]
http://www.commonsenseeconomics.com/Readings/Bastiat.UnfairCompetitionSun.pdf

C. Andrew

C. August said...

Thanks for the Bastiat reference! What a great absurdist argument mockingly in favor of protectionism... from the sun.

Here's an active link: http://www.econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basSoph3.html