Do you worry? You look like you do. Worrying is the way the responsible citizen of an advanced society demonstrates his virtue: He feels good by feeling bad.
But what to worry about? Iranian nukes? Nah, that’s just some racket cooked up by the Christian fundamentalist George W. Bush and his Zionist buddies to give Halliburton a pretext to take over the Persian carpet industry. Worrying about nukes is so Eighties. “They make me want to throw up…. They make me feel sick to my stomach,” wrote the British novelist Martin Amis, who couldn’t stop thinking about them 20 years ago. In the intro to a collection of short stories, he worried about the Big One and outlined his own plan for coping with a nuclear winter wonderland:
“Suppose I survive,” he fretted. “Suppose my eyes aren’t pouring down my face, suppose I am untouched by the hurricane of secondary missiles that all mortar, metal and glass has abruptly become: suppose all this. I shall be obliged (and it’s the last thing I feel like doing) to retrace that long mile home, through the firestorm, the remains of the thousands-of-miles-an-hour winds, the warped atoms, the groveling dead. Then — God willing, if I still have the strength, and, of course, if they are still alive — I must find my wife and children and I must kill them.”
But the Big One never fell. And instead of killing his wife Martin Amis had to make do with divorcing her. Back then it was just crazies like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher who had nukes, so you can understand why everyone was terrified. But now Kim Jong-Il and the Ayatollahs have them, so we’re all sophisticated and relaxed about it, like the French hearing that their president’s acquired a couple more mistresses. Martin Amis hasn’t thrown up a word about the subject in years. To the best of my knowledge, he has no plans to kill the present Mrs Amis.
So what should we worry about? How about — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — “climate change”? That’s the subject of Al Gore’s new movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Like the trailer says: “If you love your planet — if you love your children — you have to see this movie.” Even if you were planning to kill your children because you don’t want them to live in a nuclear wasteland, see this movie. The mullahs won’t get a chance to nuke us because, thanks to rising sea levels, Tehran will be under water. The editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, says the earth will “likely be an uninhabitable planet.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, in a desperate attempt to cut the Anglican Communion a slice of the Gaia-worship self-flagellation action, demands government “coercion” on everything from reduced speed limits to ending cheap air travel “if we want the global economy not to collapse and millions, billions of people to die.”
Environmentalism doesn’t need the support of the church, it’s a church in itself — and furthermore one explicitly at odds with Christianity: God sent His son to Earth as a man, not as a three-toed tree sloth or an Antarctic krill. An environmentalist can believe man is no more than a co-equal planet dweller with millions of other species, and that he’s taking up more than his fair share and needs to reduce both his profile and his numbers. But that’s profoundly hostile to Christianity.
Oh, and here’s my favorite — Dr. Sue Blackmore looking on the bright side in Britain’s Guardian:
“In all probability billions of people are going to die in the next few decades. Our poor, abused planet cannot take much more. … If we decide to put the planet first, then we ourselves are the pathogen. So we should let as many people die as possible, so that other species may live, and accept the destruction of civilization and of everything we have achieved.
“Finally, we might decide that civilization itself is worth preserving. In that case we have to work out what to save and which people would be needed in a drastically reduced population — weighing the value of scientists and musicians against that of politicians, for example.”
Hmm. On the one hand, Dr. Sue Blackmore and the bloke from Coldplay. On the other, Dick Cheney. I think we can all agree which people would be “needed” — Al Gore, the guy from The New Yorker, perhaps Scarlett Johansson in a fur-trimmed bikini paddling a dugout canoe through a waterlogged Manhattan, foraging for floating curly endives from once fashionable eateries.
Here’s an inconvenient truth for “An Inconvenient Truth”: Remember what they used to call “climate change”? “Global warming.” And what did they call it before that? “Global cooling.” That was the big worry in the ‘70s: the forthcoming ice age. Back then, Lowell Ponte had a huge bestseller called “The Cooling: Has the new ice age already begun? Can we survive?”
The answer to the first question was: Yes, it had begun. From 1940 to 1970, there was very slight global cooling. That’s why the doom-mongers decided the big bucks were in the new-ice-age blockbusters.
And yet, amazingly, we’ve survived. Why? Because in 1970 the planet stopped its very slight global cooling and began to undergo very slight global warming. So in the ‘80s, the doom-mongers cast off their thermal underwear, climbed into the leopardskin thongs, slathered themselves in sun cream and wired their publishers to change all references to “cooling” to “warming” for the paperback edition. That’s why, if you notice, the global-warming crowd begin their scare statistics with “since 1970,” an unlikely Year Zero that would not otherwise merit the significance the eco-crowd invests in it.
But then in 1998 the planet stopped its very slight global warming and began to resume very slight global cooling. And this time the doom-mongers said, “Look, do we really want to rewrite the bumper stickers every 30 years? Let’s just call it ‘climate change.’ That pretty much covers it.”
Why did the earth cool between 1940 and 1970?
Beats me. Hitler? Hiroshima? Maybe we need to nuke someone every couple of decades.
Meanwhile, Dr. Blackmore won’t have to worry about whether to cull Jacques Chirac in order to save Sting. Given the plummeting birth rates in Europe, Russia, Japan, etc., a large chunk of the world has evidently decided to take pre-emptive action on climate change and opt for self-extinction. Pace The New Yorker, much of the planet will be uninhabited long before it’s uninhabitable. The Belgian climate specialist will be on the endangered species list with the spotted owl. Blue-state eco-bores will be finding the international sustainable-development conferences a lot lonelier.
As for the merits of scientists and artists over politicians, those parts of the world still breeding are notable for their antipathy to music, haven’t done much in the way of science for over a millennium, and politics-wise, incline mostly to mullahs, nuclear or otherwise. Scrap Scarlet Johansson’s fur-trimmed bikini and stick her in a waterlogged burqa.
Mark Steyn is the senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc. Publications, senior North American columnist for Britain’s Telegraph Group, North American editor for the Spectator, and a nationally syndicated columnist.
Mark Steyn, 2005
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