Monday, February 12, 2007

How many R-S-T-L-N-Es are there in "Pat Sajak is a moron?"

DS was forwarded this Pat Sajak-global warming blog by an ELQ member. Read it. DS won't copy the entire post here because it takes up too much space.

Sajak agrees with the majority of scientists that the earth is warming. But he points to Nancy Pelosi and her big-jet flying ways, as evidence that either (1) she must not think global warming is man-made because she is unwilling to change her behavior, and, thus, no one else should believe in global warming or (2) she's a hypocrite.

As to (1), Sajak doesn't really come out and say he doesn't have to believe in global warming because Pelosi doesn't either (if Pelosi did, she would clearly be doing everything she can to reduce her footprint). He follows the Bush Administration's tactic of forcing a conclusion without stating any facts. C.f. the way Americans confused a supposed link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda with a link between Iraq and 9/11. Take a look at the following passage:

Take the case of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Since 9/11, the Speaker (whoever he or she might be) has been provided with a private jet for security reasons. I happen to think that’s right and proper and prudent. However, she’s arguing for a larger jet which would accommodate family and others and would allow for non-stop travel to her California home. I think that’s probably reasonable, too. But wait a minute! How can a believer in man-made global warming be so utterly unconcerned about accelerating the coming catastrophe? . . . Shouldn’t she be arguing against a private jet and perhaps closing down one of her homes or moving her family within a few blocks of her office?

This is a great passage. It implies that Pelosi doesn't really believe in man-made global warming, because she cares more about getting to SF in one shot than she does about the environment. But that's not really true. First of all, there is no "coming catastrophe." The same scientists convinced the earth's warming is man-made predict temperature increases between 3 and 7 degrees Fahrenheit, and sea level rises between 7 and 23 inches by 2100. These are numbers are alarming, but not catastrophic. Sure, some of the many islands making up the Maldives may disappear, but that's about it. Humans and our settlements can withstand a sea level rise of 23 inches. We can also withstand a temperature rise of 7 degrees, though this will be more difficult.

More importantly, just because someone isn't doing everything in his/her power to reduce their footprint, doesn't mean they don't believe in man-made global warming, or that Sajak doesn't have to believe the science. He does. We do. It is real. Which brings DS to Sajak's second point -- that Pelosi, and others that aren't changing their behavior are hypocrites.

Here, DS couldn't agree more with Sajak. Although there is no, as Sajak says, "impending disaster" to avert, this is a real crisis. DS doesn't think man-made global warming is the same as the new nuclear arms race (as some scientists seem too -- see doomsday clock counts down), it still presents serious problems. Environmental refugees will be the norm in the coming century. This all forces the question: What are you willing to do? If you believe in man-made global warming, morally, you are required to reduce your footprint. How much, though?

This is where Sajak misses his mark. He wants believers to change their entire way of life.

Why are [believers] still driving that big car or living in that big house? In fact, why are they driving at all? Why haven’t they moved into a minimalist home within walking distance of their office? . . . Anyone who truly believes it and still uses anything more than the lowest-wattage single bulb or drives one mile more than absolutely necessary is nothing short of a monster!

DS doesn't really buy this. Like losing weight, the best way to make certain, lasting changes is to slowly alter your lifestyle. DS can't give up peanut M&Ms cold-turkey, he has to ween his way off them. Likewise, he can't entirely offset his carbon emissions (he is a student), he has to buy the "around-towner" terrapass now, and will upgrade to a more expensive option once he graduates.

You don't have to move to within walking distance of your job (or school). But, if you believe in man-made warming, you do have to do what you can. REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE. DS still can't believe how many Boalt students he sees throwing away recyclable material. There are simply steps you can take to reduce your footprint.

Buy Local. Reuse plastic grocery bags when you go to Safeway or Whole Foods. Walk when you can (don't drive on local errands unless necessary). Replace light bulbs with energy efficient varieties. Turn off lights and electronics when not in use. Hang your washed clothes instead of drying them. Many of these things are not only better for the environment, but much cheaper as well, which is great for students.

So, if you think global warming has a man-made component start helping now. Because, as the old saying goes, you're either with us, or you're against us. That, and you don't really want to be with Sajak on this, do you?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, did you just spend an hour of your life carefully considering and then passionately arguing against a public policy position as advanced by Pat Freaking Sajak?

2/12/2007 8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I'm waiting for the rebuttal argument from Alex Trebec.

I agree with 8:47, who cares what Pat Sajak thinks about global warming?

2/12/2007 10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As interesting as all of this is, which class at Boalt is the hottest? I think we can safely rule out the 2L class.

2/12/2007 10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a 2L, I'm offended by that comment. Oh wait, no I'm not. We're ugly. Some of the 1L guys are MAJOR hotties.

2/12/2007 11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could have sworn that earlier this year, this same question (which class is the hottest) arose and the consensus was that the 2Ls were. My what a difference a semester makes...

2/13/2007 2:08 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

OCIP takes its toll.

Going back to Sajak, I just want to express how much I hate Wheel of Fortune. Honestly, Deal or No Deal requires greater intellectual prowess. Any of the geeks from Teen Jeopardy can whoop some serious hair stylist or stay-at-home mom ass if they were on Wheel of Fortune. The Daily Cal crossword puzzle is harder than Wheel of Fortune.

More seriously, the fundamental attribution error has led to many experiments, among them the famous Quizmaster-Contestant experiment by Ross, Amabile, and Steinmetz (1977). The authors assigned a subject to play the role of a quizmaster or a contestant. All participants rated the quizmaster as possessing higher general knowledge than the contestant (regardless of the role they were assigned!!!). Pat Sajak is milking off this effect to yap about global warming.

2/13/2007 2:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the deal with that new Boalt blog/movement that claims Boalt is deteriorating? You know, that flyer you got in your locker? Is the effort a comprehensive reform movement to improve Boalt or is just a single-issue whimper about Prop 209?

2/13/2007 3:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DS, it appears that your post has been received not with a bang, but a whimper.

But I want to give you big props for raising this issue at all. #1, I love the new muckracking, progressive approach to blogging here on N&B. Keep it up, boys.

#2, it's really hard to start a meaningful discussion about global warming, partly because it's so monumental and people tend to fall either on the "oh my god we're all gonna die tomorrow" or the "i want my SUV and my hamburgers so shut up you smelly treehugger" side of the line. (See also: Armen's post about how the main campus has "royally fucked us" by accepting a $500 billion dollar grant to figure out how to save the planet.)

If global warming is true, it's almost too big to face. I think it's the same kind of psychology that caused us to take so long to get involved in WWII -- "it can't *really* be happening, can it? No, no way." So people tend to dismiss it instead of deal with it.

But thank you for trying.

2/13/2007 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disco Stu, I'm a liberal, I care about global warming...and I'm not going to do anything you suggest. Why? Because it's a classic collective action problem, and I don't need to sacrafice when no one else will follow.

There's an obvious solution to this, of course. It's a bit antiquated. It's a dirty word. It might offend some people on this blog. Are you ready for it? It's called G-O-V-E-R-N-M-E-N-T.

There, I said it. We have a government to solve (often imperfectly, occasionally not at all) our collective action problems. And I will happily vote for a higher gas tax, more recycling, incentives for fluroescent lighting, green buildings, etc. -- the whole package baby. I'll gladly suffer those inconveniences -- as long as I know everyone else is. Until then, I want my, I want my, I want my S-U-V.

(Is this the time for a tangent about how, even if tried to recycle at my apartment (which I have) I can't b/c my apartment has no recycling bins? Apparently, the City of Berkeley is too busy saving the world from nanotechnology to, you know, institute a basic recycling program. Go figure. One's faith in government only works if the government can actually do something. Our national government has, of course, failed us so far....but I sense a change coming.)

Actually, that points to a couple of reasons why Disco Stu's ascetic suggestions might nonetheless be a good idea. By doing those good things, you might not solve the collective action problem, but you can 1) signal to others the intensity of your feelings about global warming, which may hasten a political solution and 2) demonstrate your willingress to accept inconveniences, which would also hasten a political solution. I'm just not sure the payoff (the marginal change in the likelihood of a political solution) equals the cost in terms of self-sacrafic -- especially when compared to other ways of effecting that change, such as writing (on this blog or for the NYT), voting, contributing, working for candidates, etc.

But I can see that it might be a good call for some.

OK, you convinced me. Next time, I'll seperate my used panini napkins from my Diet Coke can when I'm exiting Zeb.

2/13/2007 10:45 AM  
Anonymous je ne sais rien said...

10:45, gimme a flippin' break.

government? as the SOLE solution to global warming? and because you've devised *that* creative solution, and because you have such singlehanded control over the government's environmental policy, you aren't going to do jack?

the global warming debate is way too polarized, but I think there are several fairly noncontroversial things we can all agree on:

Fact: humans are contributing to the environmental degradation of the planet.

Fact: our consumption of fossil fuels is part of the problem.

Fact: reducing individual consumption of fossil fuels is desirable.

Fact: reducing individual consumption of fossil fuels is very hard to do in a country where land use planning centers around cars and many of our most popular household products are produced with byproducts of fossil fuels.

Fact: every little bit helps.

Fact: those who actually do control our country's environmental policy are more like to make conservation a priority when they see their constituents doing so.

Fact: you don't need a recycling bin to recycle in the City of Berkeley.

Fact: all the information you need on recycling in Berkeley is available at O Google! you are so wise...

Fact: the ignorant and apathetic comments of people like 10:45 are not helping the problem.

grow up. take responsibility. and gimme a flippin' break.

2/13/2007 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:29, Maybe an easier solution is to simply power the world from your own limitless resevoir of self-righteousness.

2/13/2007 11:42 AM  
Anonymous je ne sais rien said...

sounds like a plan.
hearts and kisses this valentine's week,
je ne sais rien

2/13/2007 11:53 AM  
Blogger Max Power said...

I'm not going to attach any political commentary to this, but for what it's worth here are Congressional perspectives on global warming: Feel free to take it with or without grains of salt.

Thanks to Ben Allen for forwarding this to the Boalt Hall Dems a few weeks back.

2/13/2007 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:42, how is the information conveyed by je ne sais rien "self-righteous"?

2/13/2007 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was the info that je ne sais rien (if that's even her real name) posted, it's this stuff at the end:

"Fact: the ignorant and apathetic comments of people like 10:45 are not helping the problem.

grow up. take responsibility. and gimme a flippin' break."

That's the kind of thing that -- perhaps unfairly -- gives enviros a rep for being self-righteous.

2/13/2007 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm intrigued by the Boalt class hotness inquiry. I would like to weigh in:

2L girls: H-O-T
1L boys: H-O-T

That's my opinion.

2/13/2007 2:03 PM  
Blogger Callagy said...

I think the solution to our collective action problem is three words long: cap and trade.

Suddenly the carbon we emit gets priced into our nasty habits. Like the SUV? Ok, you can have it, but it's going to cost you that much more than driving the Pious, since you'll have to pay not only for the extra gasoline you will burn, but also the right to emit all the carbon. And bicycling or walking will look even more enticing. Same effect with the thousands of other decisions we make. Many small pricing effects will both change our long-term behavior and create incentives for low-emission products and devices.

Yes it requires big government, yes it will affect our lifestyles, but gradually. I think it's worth it. I just wish we would give it a try, rather than letting partisanship get in the way of a solution.

2/13/2007 2:23 PM  
Anonymous je ne sais rien said...

I couldn't agree more w/ Mr. Callagy. Let the market start to do the work, and yes, encourage consumers and government to roll up their collective sleeves, too. European cap and trade mechanisms are already working incredibly well.

And 1:45 p.m., okay, so I shot off at the mouth a little. But I'd argue that wasn't self-righteousness, but rather lippiness. AND for the record, I'm not an environmentalist, I just don't like irresponsibility on either side of this or any other debate. To shove a problem off to government is to ignore our own complicity and agency.

2/13/2007 4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2L girls: H-O-T


2/13/2007 11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could we have an entire bitch thread about how Boalt would be if it were properly administered. A recruitment thread if you will:

We could start with:
Toilets not working for years on end.

Administrators who act like they are doing you a huge favor by doing their job.

Grade distribution.

Clerkship support.

Being able to do things online.

Having websites that are actually updated on a regular basis with links that work.

What is sweet about Boalt Hall: 75% of the students, Dean Edley, the 3 professors who care about teaching and mentoring.

What is not: just about everything else. Broken down public school

2/14/2007 11:45 AM  
Blogger McWho said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/14/2007 1:32 PM  
Blogger McWho said...

Sorry, this is just an edit of what I said above in my deleted comment.

One other positive thing to say about Boalt is that we pay significantly less for a degree than other similar schools.

I can flush twice if it nets me a Boalt J.D. for $24,000 less.

2/14/2007 1:34 PM  
Blogger trentblase said...

I checked out the Terrapass site... interesting concept but something doesn't add up. They recommended I spend approximately $30/year to "completely offset" my car's carbon emissions. This was based on a 216 gallon estimate. The average American travels 12,000 miles per year at 20mpg, using 600 gallons. Which implies that the average American would need to spend about $80/year to offset their carbon cost, which is a little less than 5% of the fuel cost. This implies that a simple 5% fuel tax could be applied to completely offset all vehicular emissions in the US. Hell, that's what my credit card rebate is. It seems too cheap, too easy. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that there is only a limited number of farmers who need capital to install "digesters" on their farms.

2/14/2007 6:02 PM  
Blogger trentblase said...

Oh, forgot to include the fact that average fuel tax rates in the US are currently around 7%, but as high as 11% in some localities.

2/14/2007 6:05 PM  
Blogger McWho said...

That's a truly rockin' CC rebate.

2/14/2007 7:31 PM  

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