“A Sucker Born Every Minute”
Vol: 71 Issue: 28 Tuesday, August 28, 2007
One of the most interesting historical figures America has ever produced was the showman, Phineas T. Barnum. Barnum began his career in 1835 when he began exhibiting a 160-year-old African slave woman whom Barnum claimed had been a nurse to George Washington.
He toured America from 1835 to 1839, although his “exhibit” — named Joice Heth, died in 1836. On her death, it was established that she was no older than about eighty, but that revelation didn’t slow down P T Barnum.
By 1842, his stable of exhibits included Tom Thumb, who stood three feet tall at his death, and the famous Siamese twins, Chang and Eng Bunker.
Had Barnum lived today, he would probably be doing twenty to life as a con artist, (or selling carbon offset credits) but in his lifetime, he was the most famous showman in the world.
At the end of the 19th century the number of copies printed of the autobiography was second only to the number of copies of the New Testament printed in North America. His most enduring legacy was his oft-repeated creed:
“There’s a sucker born every minute.”
If you live in Aspen, Colorado, for a mere twenty bucks, you can buy a “Canary Tag” you can proudly display to show you are doing your part to combat global warming.
Twenty bucks will buy you one ton of carbon offsets, meaning that you magically erase one ton of harmful carbon emissions that you are responsible for pumping into the atmosphere.
According to the Aspen Times, “Canary Tags are available for sale online at http://www.aspenzgreen.com and are specifically to offset greenhouse gas emissions from home energy use, driving and air travel. The purchase of one Canary Tag for $20 offsets one ton of greenhouse gases, according to a city press release.
The funds from each tag sold go toward renewable energy projects, energy efficiency improvements and/or projects that absorb greenhouse gases such as tree planting.”
Al Gore, whose “Inconvenient Truth” has become the Bible of the 1st Church of Global Warming buys so many carbon offsets that he can use ten times the energy of an average American family and still claim to live a ‘carbon neutral lifestyle’.
According to Gore, if everybody doesn’t either buy carbon offsets or park their cars and turn down their thermostats, in fifty years, melting glaciers will raise the sea levels and swamp the world’s coastlines.
That prediction has been echoed by NASA’s Global Warming guru James Hansen, who warns of sea level rises of as high as ten meters (that’s about thirty feet) and is repeated so often in the mainstream media that it has become an unexamined truism; “If global warming happens, the sea level will rise.”
Everybody says so, the only question remaining is how high? At the low end of the spectrum, the UN Panel on Climate Change predicts a couple of feet — at the high end of the spectrum are Al Gore and James Hansen, but it is a more or less undisputed ‘fact’ that global warming will raise global sea levels.
Like so many undisputed ‘facts’ about global warming, they are ‘undisputed’ because disputing them makes one a global warming “denier” — a heartless, cold, selfish individual who cares nothing about generations to come. Nobody wants that label.
So I won’t attempt to dispute that ‘fact’ — I don’t want people calling me heartless and uncaring. Instead, I’ll let you do it for me but conducting a simple experiment.
Get a tall drinking glass and fill it with ice cubes. Then fill the glass to the brim with your favorite beverage. Garnish with a lemon peel. Then go shopping or watch TV or something until all the ice in the drink has melted. Check the level of your beverage. Did the melting ice cause the drink to overflow?
Do the principles of displacement and fluid dynamics change if you are talking about bigger ice cubes and more water?
Is this hard?
How do we even know if global warming is real, let alone harmful? The data used to make the climate models has been repeatedly debunked, but its proponents simply shrug off the errors, claim they are statistically insignificant, and invent new horror stories about the dangers of global warming.
It sounds dangerous if you only look at one side. But every negative possibility has a positive counterpart: Though global warming will cause more heat deaths, it will also mean many fewer cold deaths.
Drought may increase in some areas, but warming also means both more rain and longer growing seasons.
Temperature changes will harm some wildlife in some places. But many species will benefit from a bit more warmth.
Does anyone know for certain that the net human and environmental losses from global warming will exceed overall gains? No.
Yet another new documentary called, “The 11th Hour,’ purports to “sound the alarm over global warming and offer insight into the causes and effects of global pollution.”
The documentary starts with news footage of hurricanes raging, floods taking homes, people drowning. Others, on their rooftops, are pleading for help.
Like “An Inconvenient Truth,” “The 11th Hour” deals with the human dynamics it claims contributed to these changes since the industrial revolution.
Of all the various greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, ninety-five percent of them are caused by the oceans and natural events like volcanic eruptions. Non-human life on earth, like decaying vegetation and animal life, gas emissions from livestock, etc., account for another two percent.
That leaves three percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions on Planet Earth that are caused by human activity. It is that three percent that humans can do something about.
If we reduced man-made emissions by half, (or 18th century levels — in the middle of the 300 year-long “Little Ice Age”) that would leave 97.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions intact. (And, evidently, a 2.5% hole somewhere in the equation, since it no longer adds up to 100%.)
Anyway, if you can’t reduce your carbon footprint, you can buy carbon offsets, which evidently, work just as well.
P.T. Barnum was right.