Published on: March 6, 2014
Well, let's get right to it…
Yesterday, MNB took note of a CBS News
story saying that Chipotle Mexican Grill, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), is saying that "global climate change" is creating volatile weather conditions that could affect crops and product availability, leading to the possibility that it could have to temporarily suspend certain menu items. (Such as guacamole, for example, if lousy weather affected avocado crops.) And, the story said that the company's citing of global climate change within such a context was raising some eyebrows in some circles.
Now, my comment on this story annoyed some MNB readers (and that may be understating it). But just so we're all on the same page here, and nobody accuses me of trying to weasel out of my comments, this is what I wrote:Give Chipotle credit for not worrying about how climate change deniers are going to respond to what most Americans believe is actually happening. (Sixty-three percent, according to the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. But I don't particularly worry about the other 37 percent. After all, there is a Pew study saying that 18 percent of Americans think that the sun revolves around the Earth, and more Americans can name two of the Seven Dwarves and the Three Stooges than can name two Supreme Court Justices and the three branches of government.) Let's not use the terms "global warming" or "manmade," because those tend to create real debate. (People seem to think that if it snows a lot in the US, that means that global warming cannot be a reality … which means, I think, that they believe that the rest of the natural world revolves around the US.) I think it is only responsible - and not at all extraordinary - for companies to be thinking about how things like the polar vortex and a drought in California might affect them long-term. It says something that some people think that this is somehow a profile in courage.
MNB reader Tom Herman responded:Keep worshiping at the altar of “global warming” and you might lose some readers. Has the earth warmed in the last 100 years, yes. Does man have anything to do with it, probably. Does man have anything to do with the cold weather lately, NO! With the drought in CA, NO. With the decreases in hurricanes and tornados, NO. Do the democrats want to make it an issue so they can control energy along with heathcare, YES. Is the solution to increased CO2 to spend trillions of dollars and lower everyone’s standard of living, NO!
From another reader:You cut right to the heart of the argument we "deniers" assert when it comes to climate change, global warming, meteorological transformation, or whatever it's being called this month. You steered around the use of certain words to avoid creating "real debate," Real debate is the cornerstone of the scientific method. By avoiding debate (as Al Gore—who has a bigger "carbon footprint" than ten average people combined--has done all along, by the way), and by declaring the cased closed because science has a consensus and anybody who doesn't buy in is simply an ignorant Flat Earther who should be ridiculed and silenced, the Chicken Littles display their concern that the other side of this argument might just have some merit.
As the late Michael Crichton said, "Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had..... Consensus is the business of politics. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period."
I'm surprised you can't see the difference between a crisis and a political money grab by people who stand to profit hugely from "saving the planet."
And another:First let me say I’m a skeptic. I guess mainly because I studied Geology and the origins of the earth that included plate tectonics, and the Ice Ages.
For me there are too many unanswered questions surrounding historical climate change to believe that this is nothing more than a normal cycle. There have been times in our history that were they to happen today would certainly lead to immediate passage of legislation. The Dust Bowl of the 1930’s comes to mind where Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas experienced almost 10 years of drought. It was a natural occurrence in a relatively unindustrialized world where our human actions likely had no impact on that event, yet it happened. Any study of the 3 cyclical Ice Ages will show that we are coming off of a period of Icing and that we are actually supposed to be getting warmer. Then there was the temperature study that was done after 911 when all the planes got grounded. Turns out that airplanes create condensation trails that are the beginnings of clouds that then grow causing shade and global cooling. We got measurably warmer during the grounding. Which got me to thinking about volcanic activity. Could it be that we are in a period of reduced volcanic activity? Fewer eruptions would have fewer emissions hence fewer clouds and less global cooling?
I recently watched a story about the 4000 year old Bog Men found in Ireland in a peat bog and how they took core samples and found periods of extreme drought. Droughts happen and the people of the Bronze age in Ireland chose human sacrifice as their answer.
I get especially suspicious when I see politicians investing in the very green energy companies that directly benefit from the legislation they are pushing and supported by this “science”, when more likely it is only a scheme to line their own greedy pockets. Ethanol comes to mind as both my Senators from Missouri were heavily invested. Was it coincidental that Ethanol standards were created, I think not. It all stinks of corruption to me.
So until I hear a reasonable explanation for historical climate change, then all I hear is a bunch of chicken littles running around trying to make a buck off our own innocence. To me this whole debate is as silly as sitting in a boat trying to stop the waves.
And finally, MNB reader John Kopecky responded:I happen to be one of the 37 % who reads your newsletter (not much longer) and think global warming is a hoax. I’m not an expert on global warming but I do know the three branches of government, Obama, Holder and Reid, and that there were actually more than Three stooges. If you look back to the time where there were glaciers over most of North America and now there aren’t, then there is global warming. However, this wasn’t man made. If you are trying to get a Government grant to study the effects of global warming, you better agree there is global warming or you won’t get the grant. How can you chart climate change by the weather records that only go back around 100 years on a planet that is a 100+ million years old. Or, do you chart climate change by the size of Al Gore’s bank account? Clean up the air, water and ground but stop fabricating something that just makes certain people wealthy. And, you might want to start worrying about the 37% of your readership or it could drop 37%. My dad always told me that a 10% drop in business is enough to run you out of business. Your viewpoints are making it increasingly more clear that I must not be intelligent enough to continue reading your column.
Let me see if I can address some of the issues raised in these emails.
First of all, regarding the possibility that I might lose readers and am putting my business at risk because of my opinions….
I work on the premise that at least 50 percent of the MNB readership is going to disagree with me at least half the time. In fact, I'm sort of proud of it.
If I worried that my opinions might cost me readers, I'd probably have to find another line of work. That's sort of the premise behind MNB. I state my opinions, and people get to disagree with me, and I do my best to be be fair by posting those responses. As I've done here. I've always believed that MNB is a dialog, not a monolog … though, I must concede that I do get the last word. As I will here.
I was not steering around the use of certain words to avoid debate. (If that was my intention, I failed. Miserably.) Rather, I believe that we should talk about "global climate change" rather than "global warming" and "manmade" because I recognize that the latter two terms tend to limit the debate in a way that I don't think is helpful, in part because they politicize the discussion.
And by the way, I would be the first one to concede that Al Gore is a lousy spokesman for the whole climate change issue, in part because he adds to the politicization, and in part because he just seems like a fairly humorless stuffed shirt. I'm not sure I agree that he's promoting the issue just to make a buck, but this strikes me as a fairly unproductive debate in which to engage.
I'm no scientist. I read a bit, and try to get a sense of things, and then try to reach reasonable conclusions. It seems to me that just by paying attention to changing weather patterns around the world, it seems reasonable to conclude that something is happening, that changes seem to be taking place at a faster and more dramatic rate than in the recent past. I have absolutely no idea the extent to which man has contributed to these changes, but again, it seems reasonable to conclude that since our increasingly industrialized society probably sent more crap into the atmosphere in the past 150 years than in thousand of previous years, it would be arrogant to suggest that we haven't had any impact at all. And, it seems reasonable to me that it is good public policy and both ethical and moral to try to figure out how we can take steps to be good stewards of the earth, to try to minimize any future damage we may do. In a phrase, it couldn't hurt.
Maybe this is like sitting in a boat trying to stop the waves. But if you are worried about the boat being swamped and sinking, you try to do something. Because doing nothing gets you nowhere. Besides, to use a phrase from the movies, you has to be careful that you don't find yourself in a position where you look at your fellow passengers and say, "We're going to need a bigger boat."
Now, I recognize that not everybody feels the same way. I do happen to think it is facile to suggest that the people promoting an aggressive response to what they perceive as a climate change problem only have an economic motivation, when it also could be argued that anyone opposing said aggressive responses also have an economic motivation. Again, if all we do is question each other's motives, it quickly becomes an unproductive debate.
I cheerfully concede that I am not as smart nor as accomplished as Michael Crichton. Hell, he's been dead for more than five years and he's still smarter than me, and will probably sell more books today than I've sold in my entire career. But I have to admit that I am gobsmacked by the quote, "Consensus is the business of politics. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period."
I'll betcha I could get a consensus of scientists to say that the earth revolves around the sun, that gravity exists, that the moon is not made of green cheese, that obesity issues can cause a wide variety of health issues, or even that smoking cigarettes can lead to cancer and death. Because I could get a consensus of scientists to agree to those things, does that mean that they'd be wrong? Or being purely political?
Are we now at the point where "consensus" has become as dirty a word in our culture as "compromise"?
Crichton, who was a doctor, must've been in situations where a group of physicians were discussing how to treat a difficult, hard-to-diagnose case …. and it seems likely that in most cases, they would come to a consensus about how to proceed. Isn't that what we want from our scientists? Aren't we better off most of the time if we trust a consensus of opinion in such cases?
Of course, if you are skeptical about climate change, and/or about whether industrialized man has had any role in it, you are not going to accept the consensus opinion. That's okay. That's your right. But at some point, it seems to me, one of the rules of a civilized society is that you act on consensus. (Everybody ought to accept that notion, because at some point the people who are anti-consensus are going to find themselves holding the majority opinion, and they're going to want the minority to accept their consensus.)
Now, I'm trying to reasonable and civilized here. But, of course, if I'm honest I'll admit that I love the debate. I state my opinion, you state yours. It's fun.
And, if I'm honest, I'll admit that I knew that by quoting the Pew Study - the one that said 18 percent of Americans think that the sun revolves around the Earth, and more Americans can name two of the Seven Dwarves and the Three Stooges than can name two Supreme Court Justices and the three branches of government - I'd probably rile some people up. I also was trying to make a point, while having a little fun.
One final point, and I'm going to make this as gently and affectionately as I can.
One of my readers said, "I’m not an expert on global warming but I do know the three branches of government, Obama, Holder and Reid, and that there were actually more than Three stooges."
I also knew that there were more than three Three Stooges … there were six or seven: Moe, Larry and Curly, and then a bunch of guys who replaced Curly as the years passed. But … the three branches of government are not personified by Obama, Holder and Reid … because Eric Holder is Attorney General, and as such is head of the Justice Department, which is part of the Executive Branch of government, which is headed by Obama. Senator Reid is a member of the Legislative Branch, and the third branch is the Judicial Branch, headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
I'm not sure, but I'm reasonably sure we can get a consensus on this.
Got the following email from MNB reader Joshua Herzig-Marx about the other reader who objected to Sunday deliveries of Amazon products, on the premise that Sunday ought to be a time for family and worship:My wife and I do understand the importance of having a day off for worship, family, and spiritual thought. It's just that our day is on Saturday. Having things delivered on Sunday only makes our lives (and our Sabbath!) easier.
Regarding RadioShack's announcement about store closings, one MNB reader wrote:Shocker…. Radio Shack has decided to close 20% of their stores and renovate the rest – in 2014.
If they made this announcement in 2008 it would have been more appropriate, and smart.
To make it now is….. like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic – 1 hour after hitting the iceberg.
Responding to Kate McMahon's column about the CVS decision to stop selling tobacco products, one MNB user wrote:I'm sure someone's said it, regarding the "detractors" argument about CVS continuing to sell alcohol/candy/chips, but not cigarettes. The thing is, there is just no way, other than jamming them under a short table leg, to use a pack of cigarettes "responsibly".
On another, familiar subject, one MNB user wrote:While everyone is piling on with their tales of woe regarding the Titanic disaster that is waiting to happen with Sears, I might as well get my 2 cents in too. My wife and I built a home in the last 2 years and we purchased our appliances thru Sears. After about 6 months, we started to have issues with the dishwasher. After 3 service calls and having the technician replace every electronic piece in the dishwasher, we still had issues.
After these issues, you would think that Sears would throw in the towel and just give us a new dishwasher. Heck, after seeing the receipts for the electronic parts they sent to us, the replacement parts cost more than the dishwasher originally cost us. But, Sears said that they had to come out three consecutive times for the same issue (one time it was standing water in the basin, the other two times was for a water drain error) before a replacement dishwasher would be provided to us.
On the fourth (and last) visit by Sears, a different technician came and actually took the dishwasher apart to see what the issue was. Come to find out, it was a plastic screw cover that was lodged in the drain line. It probably had been lodged there since the beginning! The other techs did not take the time to take the dishwasher apart, they only wanted to plug in their computer and see what the error code said was wrong.
Also, one other example of the cluster**** that is Sears, the techs could not communicate directly with the manufacturer, they could only communicate directly with Sears! Why wouldn't you call up the product's manufacturer and put the issue on them to tell you how to fix it after replacing every part in the machine!
This is just another example of Fast Eddie and his crew trying to delay the problem as long as possible instead of jumping in and fixing the issue from day one. If they make it another three years, I'll be surprised.
I, like a lot of folks, had some fun this week at the expense of John Travolta, who, when introducing singer Idina Menzel, who was about to sing "Let It Go" from Frozen
(which would go on to win the Oscar for Best Song), mangled her name and called her "Adele Dazeem." The goof immediately went viral, and the business lesson, I said, is how fast this stuff happens, and how pervasive and sweeping the mockery can be.
One MNB user wrote:That the Twittersphere (i.e., mob) did not take one look at John Travolta before he presented and see that he was an individual under some great personal duress does not say much for the Twittersphere. If Mr Travolta came out of the closet after the show I have no doubt that you and the mob would be waxing lyrical today over his great personal courage. Since Mr Travolta wishes to keep his private life private he exposes himself to ridicule.
If the supremely untalented lesbian, Ms Degeneres, had butchered the same name do you think the mob would have reacted similarly? I wish I could say that the mob's reaction was an eye opener. It wasn't.
In addition to the fact that this is one of the more distasteful emails I've received over the years, I'm fascinated by the absolute lack of logic.
You had a case of a guy who goofed in front of millions of people, and who got made fun of. That's it. No more, no less. And yes, if Ellen DeGeneres had screwed up the pronunciation of a name, she would have been mocked. Deservedly so. These are people who are paid a lot of money to perform
But somehow, you turned it into a matter of sexuality and politics and … well, I can't even begin to understand what the hell you are thinking and talking about.
Except that it is offensive. And probably shared by more people than I'd like to admit.
Though I hope not a consensus.