Grist hates Earth Day because it thinks every day should be Earth Day. Don’t let us have the luxury to pick up some litter one day a year and forget the 300 unnecessary trips to Home Depot the rest of the year. Fine, but kind of cranky. As an aging Italian male, I am working on cranky.
I’ve got a different grievance, however. There’s no @#$&ing enforcement with Earth Day. Anyone can claim anything on Earth Day.
Sure, there are other, similarly co-opted holidays. Thanksgiving marks the day before the country’s biggest shopping day. But hell, the Pilgrims never had any real power anyway, plus weird shoes and a boxy boat. How about President’s Day, with those stupid ads of Abe Lincoln selling Chevys? Those Presidents are dead, so we can’t expect them to enforce anything.
Think about it: On Christmas, Jews and Muslims don’t try to drive an agenda that the Christians picked the wrong guy. Nah, they let it slide. Leave the day alone. On Yom Kippur, non Jews don’t walk around claiming the whole “Ten Days of Repentance” is a waste of time. No way, non Jews give them their space. How about Muslims? Nobody makes fun of Ramadan, not even Jon Stewart.
Which brings me back to Earth Day. It could have been the day we get all mushy and reverent about our Earth Mother, she who gives us our very breath. But no, it’s the perfect time for a libertarian think tank to press its campaign against the scientific consensus that has proven global warming is happening and that human activities are causing it. That’s right, the Cato Institute has been led by climate skeptic (that means somebody who thinks the Earth is flat) Dr. Patrick Michaels into questioning every conclusion about global warming. Oh yeah, and taking a little backsheesh from the fossil fuel industry at the same time.
Pat Michaels has long used out-of-context data to try and confuse the public about global warming. He said global warming wasn’t happening, then he said it was good for us, then he said it was minimal. Now he is using his perch at the Cato Institute, founded on free-market principles, to question the consensus on global warming in newspaper ads. In the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, and Washington Times, CATO is running a full-page ad that starts with this line from President Obama — “Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear.” — and then screams in large font, “With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true.”
A long list of Ph.D. scientists have signed on to the ad, supposedly to add heft to the contrary opinion. Unfortunately for Cato, the list is wrought with professional global-warming naysayers and discredited academics.
Between the signer who espouses the view that chlorofluorocarbons are the cause of any warming trends, and the ones who dabble in known pseudoscience, to the one who attacks evolution, drawing frequent connections between evolution and Nazism, these so-called scientists are fringe, to say the least. In fact, Greenpeace research director Kert Davies — an expert on following the money of the fossil fuel industry to paid global warming skeptics — says that of the scientists listed in the ad, 29 of them show up in his database as discredited, perennial naysayers.
Michaels has pushed Cato to interpret libertarianism as inclusive of crackpot science. This I said in a letter to Ed Crane, founder and president of Cato.
It’s no wonder some of us have gotten sick of Earth Day.
So I found a way to deal. Earth Day is the day I litter. Throw the McDonald’s wrappers right out the window. Take unnecessary trips in my car, leave lights on, pretend that nuclear power is safe and that the waste magically goes away, that coal is clean and the tops of mountains are not blown off to mine it. I let the water run while I shave — ahhh, that stream of pure, hot water … endless.