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Hot Topic

THE HOT TOPIC

By Ruth Minshull

One blustery winter morning here in Michigan I was talking on the phone with my son in California.  He mentioned that he had just concluded a deep discussion with his ten-year-old son about global warming.

“Well,” he’d said to his boy, “I’m about to call your Grandma.  Why don’t you talk with her about it?”

“I can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Well, Dad, it’s OK if I argue with you, but you can’t argue with Grandma.  After all, she’s Grandma.”

Later, talking with my grandson, I broached the subject.  Then he asked, “Grandma, do you believe in global warming?”

I laughed, “Well, I certainly don’t today, honey.  It’s two degrees here and the wind chill factor is forty-seven below zero.”

Later, recalling our conversation, my attention was caught on his question, “Do you believe in…?”

How, I wondered, had this issue become a matter of belief?  That sounds more like religion than an observable condition.  Global warming should be a matter of scientific fact.

On the one hand we are told that the ice shelves are melting; forests are disappearing and we’re creating deadly gases that are destroying the ozone layer.  We must conserve our resources, recycle our paper cups and bounce to work on a pogo stick.  We’ve got to go green.

In fact, some months ago Sheryl Crow stated that the government should restrict the use of toilet paper—allowing only one square for each visit to the loo.  (Heck, why not put an old Sears catalog in there, as they once did in the outhouses?)

Meanwhile other pundits pooh-pooh the whole idea, calling it the “fraud of global warming.”  They tell us that the warming trend is simply part of a natural cycle and is neither caused by humans, nor can it be reversed by human efforts.  A number of scientists say that even if we go green to the utmost, the impact on the global climate will be almost infinitesimal.

Everyone seems to have an opinion.  I’ve read that the proponents consist of 15% who are scientists; the other 85% include politicians (Now, there’s a good source for truth), journalists (ditto), rock stars (!), Hollywood twinkies (What can I say?) and persons-on-the-street.

So when our leaders, the authorities and assorted “experts” can’t agree on the subject, how are we–mere laymen–supposed to discern the truth?

There’s no question in my mind that we are a wasteful society.  We’re even cluttering outer space.  We certainly should cut back on our throw-away tendencies–if only to build character.  And we can obviously benefit by reducing pollution and making more energy-efficient vehicles.  Furthermore, alternate energy sources are, no doubt, a wise idea.  Any computer user has learned the value of making backups.

But, just how green-friendly do we need to get?  How important is going green?  Could we maybe just do chartreuse?  Turquoise?

Also, in the midst of this raging controversy, we should ask the question first posed by Cicero:  “To whose benefit?”  (Well, he actually said, “Cui bono?” but most of us wouldn’t.)  Could it be that some people stand to make money or gain political power if we are all persuaded to green up?

One congressman said recently that a pending climate change bill would cost six trillion dollars.  Well, we all know who would pay for that–but who would get the money?

Having stumbled blindly through this blizzard of assertions, pseudoscientific facts, speculations and conflicting opinions, I have at least emerged with one absolute truth–one solid, irrefutable fact–which I offer for the benefit of all mankind:

You can’t argue with Grandma!

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©2010 by Ruth Minshull

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