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2021 April 2 -- Operation Warp Speed for Climate

At about one third of the way through, Gibbon's Decline and Fall (see my "A Better Read" post a couple months ago) is beginning to resemble the turgidity of other books more than a hundred years old. Except for a handful of words no longer used by modern Americans, his vocabulary sounds modern -- until you hit a sentence where the modern sense of the word doesn't make any sense. My familiarity with the King's English helped a lot, but some of those words were already obsolete in Gibbon's day. One word he uses a lot is "insensible" (or as an adverb, "insensibly"). It doesn't mean "nonsense" but in context it most often seems to have a meaning something like "without noticing." The whole concept is largely gone from modern speech. If the person in the story doesn't notice something, the author simply doesn't mention it. Or maybe if it's important, the guy "didn't turn to look."

Last week I was searching my blog for previous references to Baldacci and came across a reference Asimov's Foundation trilogy, where I'd quoted some guy who claimed it was like Gibbon, except for Gibbon's hostility to religion. Asimov was certainly hostile to religion in Foundation, but I have not yet noticed much of it in Gibbon yet. Mostly Gibbon is hostile to incompetence and especially to cruelty and greed. Maybe the Christians got that way after Constantine gave them the keys to the kingdom -- from my own experience I can say many of them certainly are so today -- but at the end of Constantine's reign where I left off reading, (not yet) any worse than the pagans before him.

Anyway, so I set Gibbon aside to read last month's WIRED. Clive Thompson is a regular columnist there, and he certainly is a fit target for my father's criticism "Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach" where an opinion columnist in WIRED is even more incompetent than a teacher (the author bio gives him no other credential, except to mention what appears to be a book title). In his two pages he offers the opinion "that big government works" -- or at least it did in the case of rushing COVID vaccines out of the labs and onto the street. He probably didn't know about cases like (as I learned today) a family member who got the vaccine and is now deathly sick from it. OK, it's a probabilistic thing.

Thompson tries to make the case that the "Warp Speed" government pushing that worked so well for COVID could be applied to "the terrifying scale of the [climate change] problem." Don't you believe it.

First the "terrifying" part. Last time I looked, the chance of getting sick and/or dying from COVID is comparable to the chance of getting injured and/or dying from a motor vehicle accident, and only one tenth the scale of the flu pandemic a century ago. I personally know only one person who got the virus, and he got it from the vaccine. That's like knowing somebody who was injured when a car ran over him after he put on a bright orange jumpsuit before crossing a busy street against the light. It happens, but not often. Most people don't do things like that.

So how terrifying is climate change? I never heard of anybody dying from climate change, but then I never heard of anybody dying from getting hit by lightning. Maybe it happens, but orders of magnitude less often than COVID, which is no worse than getting run over by a truck. The alleged global sea rise is so microscopic, you can outrun it crawling on your hands and knees. I did the math a while back (see my essay "A Christian View of Climate Change") and nobody will be able to measure sea rise with a yardstick in this century or the next, even if rates double like since we startedf measuring. When you consider that half the American population hates the current sitting Pesident, and the other half hated his predecessor (a situation that hs not changed in over twenty years), as soon as Biden takes Thompson's advice and starts spending COVID-style money on climate change, his party will lose the mid-term Congressional elections (as happens to most Presidents any more: I think the American people prefer "gridlock") and he won't be able to do anything more.

Everybody I personally have talked to knows that climate change is political, not science. That's different from reading about thousands of people dying from COVID. So Biden cannot get the bipartisan political support to do a "Warp Speed" spending program to fight it, and he has better political sense than Trump did, so he won't even try. If he does, he won't last any longer than Trump did. I think he knows that.

Anyway, so I'm back to reading Gibbon again. At least it's fact.

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