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The Breathtaking Childishness of the Self-Proclaimed Cassandra
by Michael Goodell
It still being too cold to Reoccupy Wall Street, tens of thousands of baristas and grad students descended upon the nation’s capital yesterday to protest the perpetually proposed Keystone XL pipeline. It was your typical anti global warming protest, “held in biting winds and near-freezing temperatures,” according to Jim Snyder of Bloomberg News. It was also a rare opportunity for protesters to slip into cute, cuddly Polar Bear costumes.
Even better than playing dress up was the chance to hear America’s favorite self-proclaimed Cassandra address the crowd. Bill McKibben, founder of www.350.org, and probably the most intensely serious and caring-about-the-earth guy in the world, took time off from his day job of urging people to reduce the size of their carbon footprints and flew to Washington to encourage the President to do the right thing. The President, of course, would have liked nothing more than to have been there to help save the earth, but he had taken advantage of the wife and kiddies’ Colorado ski trip and flown down to Florida for a golf outing.
Undaunted, McKibben, (who once said on an NPR program hosted by a woman so intensely earnest that she affected a stutter “I fly all over the country talking to people about reducing their carbon footprint”) helped the intensely caring, polar bear-clad protesters remember what’s really important.
“Twenty-five years from now, nobody is going to look back at our era and say, ‘Boy, I wonder how that fiscal cliff thing came out?’ Everyone is going to look back and say, ‘Well, the Arctic melted, and then what did you do?’”
His mission is so pathetically flawed, it’s hard to believe someone who pretends to be as smart as he does doesn’t realize it. Surely he knows that stopping the pipeline won’t stop the flow of Canadian Shale Oil. It will continue to flow, through a pipeline to Vancouver, where it will be loaded onto ships and sent to China. And we will continue to ship oil into the country from around the world. The oil will be processed, and the carbon from excess shipping will be greater than if the pipeline were approved. He’s got to know this, because you have to be smart to set up a scam like his.
Actually, the flawed logic and sixth-grade reasoning aside, Billy’s quote got the matter exactly backwards. Assuming he used the term fiscal cliff as shorthand for the looming fiscal crisis this country, and the rest of the industrialized world are confronting, twenty-five years from now everybody who’s left will look back at our era and say, “Boy, I can’t believe those bastards preferred to play gotcha politics rather than try to solve the defining issue of their generation.”
Or maybe they’ll say “I can’t believe those children preferred to dress up in polar bear costumes and listen to intellectual puff balls like Bill McKibben blather away in his self-indulgent way about something he barely understood.”
The good news for McKibben and his children’s crusade is, if AGW is in fact grounded in fact and not nursery rhyme infantasizing, then our failure to address the looming fiscal crisis will in fact save the earth. As economies grind to a halt, and turbines stop spinning, pumps stop pumping and drills fail to drill, as engines freeze and factories shutter, and ships, trains and planes remain ashore and grounded, unladed, unboarded; as money evaporates and markets vanish, as people starve by the millions and cities and houses are discarded, the only carbon we will produce will come from our rotting bodies.
The world will be saved, and Bill McKibben will reign as savior for the few hundred thousand survivors, because you know Bill will survive. He’s that kind of smart.