Saturday, March 29, 2008

The dying of the light, Earth Hour, And Why Google Has Gone Black

The dying of the light is the best posting I've read about Earth Hour, where we are supposed to shut off the lights for an hour to help save the planet.
Here's Google's smarmy explanation of why they've turned their search screen black for the day. (It does nothing, it means nothing, but they want to stop the weather from changing.)

Here's Thaddeus Tremayne, writing for Samizdata:

With each passing day I become more convinced that the 'green' movement is actually a millenarian psychosis; a mental and spiritual sickness borne, perhaps, from some degree of civilisational exhaustion. Not just a belief that the end of the world is nigh, but an active desire to bring it about. And soon. Ours is not the first age to witness such pandemics of madness but, in the Middle Ages at least, there was the excuse of a near-universal poverty. In such a state of interminable plight, despair may not be the wisest response but it is at least an understandable one.

And here is one of Samizdata's serial commenters, IanB, disagreeing with the terminology, but agreeing with Tremayne:

I'm not sure what "civilisational exhaustion" is. It seems an unnecessarily convoluted explanation whatever it may be. Greenism is just the usual old crap that has always driven religious extremists- an intense desire for spiritual purity, a belief that mundane comforts distract from and obstruct that quest, a belief in a past golden age, and a profound hatred for the lesser mortals outside the cult.

(Addition from March 30th....) Just for grins, here's the Gospel of John, chapter 3, verse 19 and 20:

"This is the verdict. Light has come into the world. But men love darkness rather than light, for their deeds are evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."


Steve said...

I recognized the "Whited Sepulchre" name in a comment on another blog and realize that you've commented on my blog, but I hadn't visited yours.

Upon seeing this post, I linked over to the post that your referred to and saw the map. That's the same map that I keep as my desktop. A NASA map showing the illumination fo the world.

However, one thing the author said caused me pause: "But now we live in an age of near-universal prosperity and progress." Look at the map and tell me that's the case. Look at some of the most densely populated areas of the world (Africa, Amazonia, China, etc) and you see no lights.

This is nothing near "near-universal prosperity and progress". The world has a terrible shortage of essentials like water an food, which makes his statement look foolish.

As far as the lights-out deal, I wouldn't shut mine off, TXU does that often enough to great discomfort.

As a statistician, it's impossible to infer anything definite given the short timeframes and previous fluctuations in temperature. But the cause and effect evidence of hydrocarbons in the air is quite compelling.

I do think there are a lot of people that are making political hay out of specious conclusions. But the same can be said of the other extreme.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Thanks for the comment, sir....
Everyone else, Steve has the excellent Fort Worth Blogorrhea site to your right.

Regarding the "near universal prosperity and progress", I think we have to hold the world's prosperity to the same standard that you hold the weather....all the data's not in yet. But if you look at, say, one of the nations that you mentioned, China, which as soon as they got their government out of their way (relative to the previous 4,000 years) they started to prosper. Not relative to Fort Worth's Mira Vista neighborhood, but relative to their previous condition. Prosperity to the tune of 1 million people per month leaving poverty.
Look at Africa. It's a great place to grow cotton. Some areas could start thriving within a year if WE would let them. But our government won't allow their cotton into our country without tacking on ridiculous tariffs and quotas until the price of African cotton is equal to the stuff produced by some of our millionaire farmers.
I hope you'll save a link to the Samizdata site. Read it for a couple of months, and you might start believing that the earth usually provides us with plenty of food and water. Some people and organizations just need to get out of the way. (But I admit, I fall into the TRUE BELIEVER category on these issues.)

If I could put in one more plug for the Fort Worth Blogorrhea site...Steve's March 14th post, which questions America's collective IQ regarding our fear of's one of the most succinct things I've read on the subject. Nobody remembers the Osama Bin Laden video that conveniently surfaced a week before the last presidential election, but I think it was a factor in the results of that election. (Once again, I'm a TRUE BELIEVER on that subject.)

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think the Whited Sepulchre goes over the edge. I agree with so much on the blog. And I do agree with the use of terrorism for political advantage. Perhaps affluent people have just too much time on their hands. The devil finds work for idle minds.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

You don't get your Sepulchre painted Safety Warning White by staying in the center.

Oh, and by the way Zbeth, you are filthy rich ! Like Steve says, you have to look at the standard for comparison.


Steve said...

I believe, sir, that you cherry-picked China, which was my fault for including it in the list. My focus was on the potentially pitchfork wielding agrarian interior of China which is being forced off farms and into city slums. After the Tibetan riots, and more sure to come in the runup to the Olympics, I don't know that the government is truly "out of the way." Here's an in depth article into the serious water shortage problem in China and around the world.

There are serious "fair playing field" issues with China that should be part of an ongoing discussion.

I would ask you, sir, to describe your adherence to strict Ricardian economics theory with totalitarianism and suppression of freedom. While the Dutch may make cheese better than the Germans, should we still import it if the cheese is made by child labor?

It's an interesting question. Wal-Mart has put numerous American companies out of business because they refused to relocate to China. But they do this in the interest of low prices to American consumers. It becomes chicken-or-the-egg. What are your thoughts?

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I am 100% in agreement with you that the Chinese government is not out of the way. Not even close. They're still one of the most oppresive regimes around. But when they opened the four "Enterprise Zones" in the early 80's, in one tiny little humane gesture, people flocked into them from all over. Almost instantly, those regions became mini-Taiwans and mini-Hong Kongs. (I regularly go to one of them....Xiamen.)
And while some people are being forced into the cities, far more are abandoning the farms and countryside by choice. In fact, many are breaking the law to do so. (Which the govt. winks at....look up their "Houkou" policies. Very much like the Jim Crow laws in the American Deep South.)

As a Free Market Libertarian kinda guy, I love the ironic possibility of Communism being overthrown by the pitchfork wielding agrarians instead of the semi-capitalists (who have to cozy up to the bureaucrats to accomplish anything). In my opinion, that's how it's most likely to happen.

Am writing this in a hurry....will get to your water link later tonight or sometime tomorrow.

r.e. - the child labor/prison labor issue.... I wish there was some way to ban any products made by prison labor. Including licence plates. (Hence the term "Free" Market).

Please allow me to make a carefully nuanced distinction on the chld labor issue.... I don't see this as a good/bad, but as a continuum. No one in their right mind wants to see their 12-year old go to work in a factory. Except, of course, parents who desperately need for their 12-year old to get a job in a factory. It's not like their other option is to save up money for sorority rush at TCU. Who does more for a hungry child, the factory owner who provides a job in exchange for labor, or the activist on the other side of the world who shuts down the factory? (These people are off the wall on some racial issues, but cut to the chase on Free Markets.)

r.e. - David Ricardo's theory of competitive advantage - I can't think of any nations that have protected themselves to prosperity. Esp. by protecting weak industries. See "Globalization" by Don Boudreaux....The Cafe Hayek link to your right.

Will try to do a better job finessing this in the future....I've got more parenthetical asides in this comment than anything I've ever done.

Please keep commenting. You keep it honest around here. All of this was supposed to be about water, right?