Full disclosure: I was born in 1981, and as far as I can recall I never masturbated to a picture of Jane Fonda.
Too much information, I know. But what else can I do? An eternity ago (September) the guys who brought you Freakonomics brought you this little gem, blaming Jane Fonda for America’s CO2 emissions. Seriously:
“The China Syndrome” opened on March 16, 1979. With the no-nukes protest movement in full swing, the movie was attacked by the nuclear industry as an irresponsible act of leftist fear-mongering. Twelve days later, an accident occurred at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in south-central Pennsylvania …
And so, instead of becoming a nation with clean and cheap nuclear energy, as once seemed inevitable, the United States kept building power plants that burned coal and other fossil fuels. Today such plants account for 40 percent of the country’s energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions.
That’s right, Jane Fonda’s acting skills are so powerful, an entire nation stopped building nuclear plants in the 1980s! Of course, they also stopped building coal plants in the 1980s, too. (Only six have been fully completed since 1990, according to the Department of Energy. But what would they know?)
Of course what happened was neither that the U.S. “stopped building nuclear power” or “stopped building coal,” but that the U.S. stopped building baseload generation capacity almost entirely. Why? Well, I’m not an economist, but it might have something to do with the fact that demand for new baseload power (the only power that nuclear can provide) stopped, while demand for new peak power (especially from natural gas plants) went through the ceiling.
I’m just saying, the market may have had more influence than Jane Fonda. Just maybe.
I was basically willing to ignore the crap being put out by Levitt and Dubner, except that yesterday I read this piece from Rick Perlstein, where he makes it pretty clear that the rage a certain generation of men feel at Jane Fonda has a lot to do with the subject of their adolescent lusts betraying them. In the Perlstein example, it’s over the Vietnam War. Above, it’s nuclear.
Still, the theme continues: let’s ignore objective reality — the insanity of Vietnam, the economic failure of nuclear energy — and blame Jane Fonda for betraying us. This, it’s worth saying, is totally insane, and stupid to boot. You know what I did when Pamela Anderson said things I disagreed with? Laughed. It’s Pamela Anderson, and I never confused my self-abuse for a relationship with her.
Apparently, this is harder to do for some people.