BLOG BIT: Dennis Miller and his guests are stupid.
I listen to conservative radio sometimes. Sometimes I didn't get my coffee, and need a jolt of self-righteous falsehoods being triumphantly spewed from some guy whose reasoning ablitity has been mangled by cheese bits, oxycotin and anger induced mini-strokes. That is almost like coffee, though, much more bitter. There is no amount of sugar and creamer (even irish cream creamer) that offsets the kind of vitriol generated by radio Hannity, Beck, Savage or Limbaugh. Radio brings out the worst in these characters. Though I am unsure exactly why that is. Maybe it is the tendency of the listener of these shows to be dyed-in-the-wool acolytes? Call screeners creating a fairy land of agreement, and insuring that only the most brain-dead rerpresentative of a contrary point of view ever makes it on the air (Rush, I am looking directly at you)? Maybe all the skewed positive feedback simply makes the delusion of being correct more potent? Whatever the case, radio encourages these guys to say the dumbest things, and its not that they need much encouragement.
Dennis Miller though I always thought might be a little different. Don't think I didn't notice that slide into right-wing Randian thought Dennis. I certainly did. I was sad to see it happen but I hoped that you might, in all your pop referencing glory make a reasonable, and maybe even funny case for your ideas. Dennis, I am sorry to say, disappoints. And he does this spectacularly. On top of this, his radio show seems to have the least actual content, and consists mainly of he and his co-host exchanging pseudo-witty pop-culture references and laughing (kind an unfunny Bob and Tom if you can imagine it). Oh, and then there is Miller hawking the wares of various sponsors which also eats up oodles of his air time (his shtick for some outfit called Taxmasters is the most annoying).
None of these right-wing talking point parrots sounds more ignorant than when the topic involves an element of science. And in that area climate change seems to flummox the lot of them even more profoundly than "teaching the controversy."
Today the show took a nasty turn into ignorance early, and there it remained. Of course there was the review of some terrible healthcare plan that would indeed be something about which to be alarmed if Obama was proposing anything like it. However since Obama isn't proposing the plan that have Dennis and his cohost so scared, I'm not going to bother looking at that strange analysis. Instead I will look at Miller's grasp and that of his callers on climate change. An analogy may help prepare you. Let climate represent a massive cliff face, say one of the giant cliffs found in the Valles Marineris on Mars. Let climate change science represent a hand hold at the top of the cliff saving one from a seven kilometer fall. In this scenario Dennis Miller and his audience are doing a pirouette to the tune of gravity punctuated by a very sudden stop. Terrible analogy? Probably, but my point is illustrated don't you think?
Dennis read a report that stated Chicago may have its earliest recorded snowfall sometime next week. Feeling triumphant, he laughed and said something like, "So what about global warming now? Clearly it just isn't happening." Now I don't mind an error. Everyone makes them. But to make a statement like this is reveal a level of catastrophic ignorance, and to do it proudly, that is stunning in its scope. Clearly his grasp of statistics is somewhat limited. He also seems to be missing the meaning of the global. I know, I know me and specifics. Global mean temperatures are rising, and this is completely not in dispute. A hot spell or cold spell in a specific location taken by itself is not sufficient to confirm or nullify the the climate change hypothesis. It is the broad trend that is in question. Not local variation. It is also pretty funny that Miller trusts the climate modeling that predicts snow in Chicago sometime next week.
The second major blunder came when one of his callers piped up about ozone depletion. Specifically, the caller said, "You know what I wonder, is why we never hear about the ozone layer anymore? We were all going to die, there was all the worry about UV. Now we never hear about it."
Miller responded, "Yeah its all a joke. A money making scam. Just follow the money. Look, Al Gore is worth a hundred million now. I mean good for him, I just wish he would admit it and then I could pat him on the back and say 'Way to go ya' hack!'"
If you live an area where the hole in the ozone affects you it probably seems more real I guess. Try the southern hemisphere Dennis, but take your sunscreen.
One of the reasons we do not hear as much about ozone depletion in the press is because the problem was so obviously tractable. The science was just that obvious. That didn't stop conservatives in the Reagan administration from resisting regulating the use of CFCs (chloroflourocarbons-the major culpits in the ozone depletion). Magaret Thatcher, who was no friend to regulation, but who did possess an education steeped in chemistry, did see it as an unavoidable necessity in this instance. CFCs were the problem and their broad applicablity made them quite abundant. In the lower atmosphere they were chemically inert, but stratospherically CFCs are broken down by UV light, which frees the chlorine. Chlorine is then able to amble about the stratosphere and mangle ozone molecules by the hundreds and thousands (this is a complex story but the synopsis will do for our purposes). However, CFC use has been dramatically reduced world wide and so the damage to the ozone layer has been drastically reduced. While this is all very positive problems will remain for some time. However protocols adopted by at least a 190 nations will likely allow the ozone layer to return to natural levels around 2050 according to NASA.
In the mean time, processes release excesses of chlorine into the stratosphere, especially in the Antarctic, but elsewhere too, that (combined with human released chlorine) result in depletions world wide. These depletions can result in significant and risky exposures to UV. UV warnings are not infrequent in Australia and other Southern Hemisphere hotspots (the Antarctic hole is often large enough to encompase portions of Australia). However general ozone reduction can be a threat the world over.
The reason, Dennis, that the ozone hole is not the huge problem it could've been, is because the world took note, followed the evidence and took action. Sadly adopting ridgid ideological blinders has hindered your ability to look objectively at evidence. What is even more disappointing is that you and others like you have been given such a potent microphone as a radio show.