25. April 2007 · Comments Off on Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Media Matters Not, Politics, Rant, sarcasm, Science!, World

There are a good few reasons besides sheer contrariness that I am standing off to the side, pointing and snickering at the antics of the “global warming” warming crowd. One of them is that I have been to the “omigod-it-could-be-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it” rodeo before. Several times, actually; when I was in junior high school the panic-du-jour was about overpopulation. Eventually we would all wind up, standing shoulder to shoulder, running out of food and clean water. When I got to high school, it was global cooling; great honking ice sheets were going to advance across the earth, the sun would grow dim and we would all freeze to death. If we didn’t starve, first.

Before and during that was the oldie but goodie of global thermonuclear war; we were all going to be annihilated by the Russkies or a melting power plant. Or die of starvation afterwards. For a while in college we were supposed to be all freaked out by the scourge of “future shock” wherein things changed so fast and so suddenly that our poor little minds just couldn’t cope, and we would… oh, I forget what was supposed to happen to us with “future-shock”. Curl up in the fetal position, suck our thumbs and turn up the electric blanket up to high, I suppose.

So, I am a little resistant to someone jumping up and down and screaming “oooga-booga!” and demanding that I panic along with the rest of the lemmings about the latest panic-du-jour. Deal with it.

See, I know the climate of the world has changed, is changing and will go on changing. There were glaciers over the upper Mid-West, once. In Roman times, it was warm enough in England to grow grapes. Until about the 14th century (give or take) it was warm enough in southern Greenland for subsistence farming. A volcano eruption on the other side of the world resulted in a year without a summer early in the 19th century in the northern hemisphere. So it went. So it goes. How much global warming in the last umpty-ump years-decades-whatever is due to human activity? I don’t know, but I am not going to rush into taking a position on the say-so of the same sort of people who were banging on about global cooling, overpopulation, nuclear annihilation, future-shock or whatever in the days of yore.

Sorry. I’ll make jokes about them, though.

Which brings me down to the one over-hyped panic-du-jour that followed upon all the others listed, the one that commanded tabloid-style headlines all during the mid 1980s. That would be the “ritual-satanic-abuse-of-children-in-daycare-centers” scare. While it is not the same kind of issue, it seems to be meriting some of the same kind of popular press. Standing off to one side and looking on, I keep seeing the same sort of shrieking hysteria, the same light-speed jumping to conclusions, the same degree of absolute conviction, the same kind of ‘piling on’, and the same shouting-down of all the people who said “now just wait a darned minute”.

The global-warming trend might very be as real an issue, as much as the day-care ritual abuse wasn’t, but the degree of shrieking hysteria on display when the issue comes up doesn’t do it any favors. Or win me over as a convert, because I am pretty sure that in ten years, the usual suspects will be banging on about something else.

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