Monday, May 18, 2009

Mr. T's Birthday is in three days

Which means that if you'd like a detailed recap of the last year of my life, in three days I will be sending out my first annual (shut up) Mr. T's Birthday Letter. Email me and I'll put you on the mailing list.

I figure this email gives me a chance to reconnect with some of you. I tell you everything about my life, then you can say "I didn't know you like to ride bikes now" or something, and we can start up a conversation. Or even "I forgot you existed, but I like you. Hi!" Plus, if you've been kinda skimming but not really reading my blog (understandable... I talk a lot), this will be a nice summary.

Now I will continue to talk a lot.

I've had two very interesting visitors in a couple vivid dreams over the last couple days. First was an unknown girl; we were dancing, and very well. This was notable because I'm not known to dance well. Second was one of my high school theology teachers, Mr. Prokop. He was known for bluntness. I liked him. He was kind of a jerk, and he was very sure the Catholic church was always right, but he did also teach World Religions, maybe the only theology class I took that was worth it. In my dream he said "What's your religion of choice these days?" and I stammered something half-assed about "well I kinda like Buddhism but I'm not like an actual Buddhist but I kinda think they have some good ideas and ..." and he goes, all smugly, "Well, how's that going for you?"

Argh! I said something weak, again, like "it's okay, I guess", but I should have said "It's fine. What did you want to hear, that I was lost because I didn't have a crucified Jesus Christ on a rosary around my neck? Listen, I'm doing pretty well, and having issues too, but that's because that's the way the world works. I'm not sure of anything because the world isn't so black and white, and the more you see things in black and white, the more goddamn destructive you become. And no, the truth isn't objective. Or, it is, but it sure doesn't include a Jesus rising from the dead and ascending into the sky. I've trivially got more reason to believe against resurrection than you have to believe in it. But you don't hear me smugging at you about it, do you? No, because I realize that everyone's climbing the same hill, and all their routes will get them there exactly as fast as yours."

So! That's how my dreams have been going. Speaking of things in black and white, I think my environmental footprint in the last couple years has doubled, and here's why: I read "State of Fear" by Michael Crichton. It's a book about how we shouldn't believe all that the media tells us because they just try to fill us with fear all the time. (hello, swine flu!) However, it uses as an example global warming, and the story is about how global warming isn't actually happening.

I questioned this for a while, and then came back to the side of believing in global warming. First of all, it's not like the experts are split 50/50... it's like 90/10. (source: I don't know. Go ahead, prove me wrong.) Second, even if global warming isn't happening, we are screwing up the environment in a lot of other ways, so we should do whatever we can to stop it. Third, I read another book by a global warming denier who took the position of "yeah, it's happening, but it won't really be so bad", which was not encouraging. Fourth, "State of Fear" is a novel. Fifth... argh! Pascal's wager! Believing in it, acting, and being wrong is much better than not acting and being wrong. (That's weak, I know. I'll just take the first 4 arguments then.)

Anyway, so I mentioned this book in passing to my dad a couple years ago. Since then, he's taken up the global-warming-denier banner, slagged environmentalism any chance he gets, made fun of everyone who happens to admit he/she might not hate Al Gore, and started listening to books like this. (side note: oh my gourd.) Dad, if you're reading this, the point I liked in "State of Fear" was that the media/government/etc has become a fear machine, not that global warming doesn't exist!

So! As a pro-environmentalist dude, my total track record for positive environmentalism in this world is -1. Le sigh.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Pascal's wager argument also doesn't really apply since there are costs to acting on the basis that global warming is happening when it is not, namely that many developing countries would instead remain poor due to the necessities of CO2 abatement. Any honest assessment of the global warming issue needs to account for costs such as these, as well as any benefits that might occur due to global warming. I don't see this much in the media (because, as you say, alarmism sells).

Dan Tasse said...

Yeah, 's true. It's not really Pascal's wager, is it? It's just "a wager". Another thing is, after reading "Hot, Flat, and Crowded" by Thomas Friedman, I'm agreeing with him that becoming environmentally friendly doesn't have to be a cost. For example, if you make your home or factory more efficient, you save money on electric bills AND the environment wins. Sure, that's not always how it works, but it works like that in some cases, and with certain governmental subsidies in the right place, it could work like that in a lot more cases.