Saturday, December 15, 2012

Climate Change or the End Time?

     I have decided to hurry up and write this blog now, given that the infallible Mayans predicted ages ago that the world would end this December 21.  

    An amazing article appeared in Reuters reporting the result of an opinion poll.  Apparently 40% of you out there believe that recent weather has worsened, and that this is the sign of the "End Times."  In other words, you think that God is going to destroy the world, and one of the things he has incorporated in his formula is bad weather.  And you are also sure that those who do not agree with you are in league with the devil. 

   Equally amazing, another 60% of you think that we are having exceptionally bad weather (such as the superstorm that hit the East Coast last month) and that it is due to man-made climate change.   This should not be confused with global warming (i.e., the well documented rise in global average temperature by 1 C since about 1900), but refers to disastrous weather like floods, hurricanes, earthquakes etc.   
     In other words, you basically agree with the religious right that the world is coming to an end, and that it is due to evil actions by humanity,  but you believe that there is a scientific explanation for the whole thing.  Pollution and especially carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is the culprit.

     Jeez, if you add it up that seems to come up to 100% who apparently believe that the weather is worsening to such an extent that global destruction is at hand.  It might not actually be 100% if some of you are being double counted (you believe God is getting ready to destroy the world, and fossil fuels are helping him to do it).  But it is clear that a very high percentage of normal average Americans believe that the world is coming to an end due to bad weather.  22% believe that it is within the next 50 years or so, and a significant fraction are genuinely worried that the world will end next week, in the supposed Mayan prophecy (there is no such prophecy, but far be it for the Village Elliot to spoil your fun). 

    The right believes that the Apocalypse is coming, and the left believes that fossil fuel consumption is destroying the world for reasons that do not involve God, but almost everyone agrees that the world is coming to an end, at least according to the opinion polls. The right believes that the left is wacky, and the left believes that the right is wacky, despite the fact that both sides are in basic agreement that the world is coming to an end due to weather related phenomena. 

    Apparently, most people believe that the world is coming to an end soon, but we may the opportunity to live a normal lifespan.  But according to Reuters, 22% of Americans (and 15% of people worldwide) think that the world will end in their lifetime.

     The Village Elliot thinks you are all wacky, frankly.  I believe in God, and I also believe in the infrared absorption cross section of carbon dioxide, but I don't believe that the world is being destroyed by either one. 

    It may be that I am now in a tiny minority that does not believe in the imminent destruction of the earth due to weather (a more reasonable case can be made that humans will destroy the earth with nuclear weapons, but let's leave this possibility for a future blog).  

     It seems that there is simply a deep seated human need to believe in the end of the world. It used to be that Gaddaffi was the AntiChrist, or Saddam, or John Kennedy (not a Protestant, you see), or Hitler, or Kaiser Wilhelm or Napoleon.  My personal favorite was Ronald (6 letters) Wilson (6 letters) Reagan (6 letters).  Imagine the Antichrist posing as a Republican.  What a trickster he is!

    The Village Elliot thinks that before assuming that the world is being destroyed, we ought to let meteorologists  characterize current weather patterns and compare them to data from the past.  What a bland thought! I think they might say that the weather has in fact been worse in recent years, but overall the meteorlogical forecast is a little more optimistic than the death of the universe.

    Bad weather played a role in the last presidential election, as Mayor Bloomberg expressed his belief that President Obama would be more effective in changing the climate for the better than Mitt Romney.  Bloomberg believed that Hurricane Sandy was a consequence of bad environmental practices in the United States, although I'm not sure how he reached this conclusion.  I thought King Canute of England had already done this experiment when he commanded the sea to stop rising, and found that the sea would not listen.  But it is now a valid political perception, if not a scientific reality, that politicians are the key to saving the world from natural calamaties. 

 Reasonable people now believe that King Canute was actually right, and political action will improve the weather.  But the world will probably come to an end anyway, or so people say.  




  1. Nice creative use of statistics, and humorous too. I would expect no less. I, too, believe in the IR cross section of CO2. I also believe in the IR cross section of H2O, and there is alot more of it. how much more? Difficult to tell. Always changing is the humidity/rain/snow/clouds...

    1. Mr. Perry, you have the unfair advantage of having waited long enough to see that the Mayan prophecy did not come true. But, if our politically mandated solutions for improving the climate do not work, we can always trying throwing some young men and women into an active volcano, and seeing if that helps.