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Thursday, November 28, 2019

How to talk to climate denier denier denier deniers this Thanksgiving

Some tips on how to avoid getting plastered with cranberry sauce

W hy is it that the further the theory of cataclysmic global warming gets out on thin ice, the more the global warmers scream that it's settled science and the Earth is doomed? The latest shtick is that we passed a tipping point, I think it was on last Thursday, and it's now impos­sible to do anything about it. Also, the oil companies knew decades ago that this would happen and deliberately concealed the knowledge from the public, so we can now sue their metonymical pants off.

I don't know the answer to that, but the UK paper The Guardian does have some helpful tips on how to nag your relatives about global warming at Thanksgiving dinner. Amazingly, a couple of them are good ideas: No. 3 is that you might want to avoid using the words ‘crisis,’ ‘emergency,’ ‘movement,’ and ‘revolution.’

Cardassian warship
Cardassian warship. Note the oversized aft section

Admittedly, not advocating revolution might make for some pretty dull conversation. And by No. 7 the Guardian snaps out of it, quoting a guy named Lori Brewer Collins as saying “People aren't really persuaded by facts, logic, and reason. [Most of us] are persuaded by emotion.” So if you can't scream at Uncle Bob for snickering when you mention the Green Nude Eel, screaming at the sky might be a perfectly good strategy.

Another article is by a guy named Eric Tien (I've decided to call them all guys from now on because there is, after all, only one sex. Men and women are identical in every way, so it doesn't matter, and women are men anyway). This Tien fella says he's on day ten of Extinction Rebellion's global climate hunger strike and he's starting to get dizzy. Here's his philosophy of life:

I am willing to starve to death, if that would help initiate real climate action, because I refuse to stand by and allow my nieces and nephews to live through a dark age of starvation, disease, and war. For the past week I've felt exhausted, dizzy, angry, and desperate. Now I mostly wake up sad that it has come to this. My parents tearfully urged me to stop, but how can I, when Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) models estimate temperatures that would make the planet unlivable?

Those models, as P.J. Michaels reminds us in his new book Scientocracy, are computer programs that environmentalists had to “tune” by putting in the correct answer before they would predict the correct answer. He says it more politely than that, of course.

Tien says he'll continue to fast until Nancy Pelosi agrees to a one-hour on-camera meeting with Extinction Rebellion. After all, he says, a two-degree warming means the tropics will have to be evacuated. The solution is simple: net-zero emissions by 2025.

This guy is NOT getting invited to my Thanksgiving dinner. Refeeding syndrome and all that.

But it raises the question: do people actually believe this? Calling it a type of religious fanaticism sounds too simple. I have to admit I used to believe the earth might be warming, even though, reaching back through my memory into the foggy mists of time, all I could remember was that nothing much has changed in, well, let's just say quite a while.

The Guardian often publishes articles by political extremists whose credibility is suspect. Is it conceivable that somebody could really try to starve themselves to death to protest global warming? It sounds incredible: we know from physics that doubling CO2 will only increase temperatures by 1.2 to 1.5 degrees. It goes without saying that this is not going to cause any mass extinctions, mass deaths, wars, or ecological collapses. Where are they getting all these false stories?

Maybe it comes from Collins's belief that people are only persuaded by emotion. If emotions are all that count, then the truth of a statement is determined by the amount of emotion it produces. Whoever screams the loudest must therefore be telling the truth.

The idea that a 1.2 degree change is enough to be scientifically interesting ended for me the day the warmers started using the term ‘denier.‘ The term is a red flag: It means the motivation of the speaker is not to find the truth, but to invent their own facts and use force to obtain compliance. It also means that any doubt or deviation from the received truth is apostasy, and it marks the day they ceased being warmers and became climate fanatics.

In science, we don't often call our colleagues deniers or fanatics. You don't hear, for example, that someone who doesn't agree that “highly enantioselective carbene insertion into N-H bonds of aliphatic amines” is an actual thing is an “enantioselective carbene insertion” denier. It's just hard to get that worked up over these things.

But out there in the <air quotes> real world </air quotes>, instead of putting food on their families as G.W. Bush recommended, people are throwing cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes at each other because of global warming.

Anyway, what else is there to talk about besides the global consensus of every single true scientist that we're all going to die in nine, ten, or twelve years? It makes us all feel happy to believe we're saving the world, regardless of whether the cause makes sense. Well, here are some suggestions.

  1. Harry Potter fans are now saying that Dumbledore is actually Death because he had all three of the Deathly Hallows in his possession, and because he guided Harry during the latter's near-death experience. If you disagree, you are a denier. If you have no idea what that even means, you are my enemy and I will use the Cruciatus Curse on you.
  2. Is it really just a coincidence that only a few years after Star Trek Next Generation was cancelled, the Kardashians appeared? The Cardassian warships, as we all know, are yellowish and have an inordinately large aft section. QED.
  3. Anybody who uses the expressions “clap back” or “y'all” should shut up and GET A JOB.
  4. And my favorite topic: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Bambi are the SAME GODDAMN STORY.

Oh, by the way: achiral copper and chiral thiourea catalysts DO work in tandem to form C-N bonds enantioselectively. If you don't agree, you're a denier, and you WILL get plastered this evening, right between the eyes.

Hope this helps.

nov 28 2019, 6:01 am. edited nov 29 2019 5:16 am

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