Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 2 - Lecture #1 - Earth Day!

Hello there, students!

Today is Earth Day. And a happy 4,500,002,011th birthday to our lovely planet! As we begin yet another ride around our lovely ball of helium and hydrogen that we call the sun, I thought this would be a great opportunity to talk about something that has been quite the "hot" topic for probably the last decade. Global Warming.

I'm sure you all want to hear my opinion on this "global crisis", but before I give up that information, I want to share my opinion of what I think is really going on behind the curtain.

Now, this line of logic may be a little hard to follow, but I'm sure that you'll catch on soon enough. OK... one of my favorite films of all time... wait... let me qualify that. One of my favorite musicals of all time is The Music Man. Of course, I love the music, the colors, the dancing, the whole mighty spectacle of it. It is truly a cinematic marvel for its day. But as I've gotten older, I began to notice the underlying theme, at least for one part of the story. For you that haven't seen it, first let me say, "What?!?". All kidding aside; the gist of the story is a traveling salesman (Professor Harold Hill - which is his salesman name or "secret identity", and where I got the idea to add Professor to my name on this blog) is struggling to sell his product (Boy's marching band equipment) in a small Iowa town. But he, in his infinite genius, finds a way to sell his product to the parents of the town, by doing this.

That is what is called the group panic (or panic in crowds) phenomenon. Page 3 of this article shows a diagram of this as well as a nicely written description of how it happens. It's a very interesting read. And if you watched the entire video clip, you probably saw all of those stages happen. And because of this, Prof. Hill manages to sell his product to the people of River City, in order to "save" the youth of the town. (There is also a love story in there somewhere, but that's not important right now.)

Now, getting back to global warming... there is another film that comes to mind that kind of uses the same tactics to accomplish this particular salesman's goal. Here is the theatrical preview of this film. Notice how the love for your children was brought up? What better way to get Ma 'n' Pa American to jump on the bandwagon than to pose a threat to their kids. did he sell his product? Oh yes, he did! And you know what? Good for him. I don't think he is an evil man, and I do think a lot, if not all, of his projects, investments, and businesses are doing good for the environment. But if you realy think his quest was to just save the environment, you're fooling yourself. It was all about money. Really, losing the election was the greatest thing to happen to Big Al.

That all being said. I do belileve in global warming. Yes, it is happening. I'm trying to do my part. I have started riding my bike the 7.4 miles to work, or driving half-way and walking the rest. But I don't just do it to "shrink my carbon footprint". I do it, because gas prices are high and I can use the exercise. I save a ton on fuel costs and I can drop my gym membership. So, for me, it's about money, too, from a certain point of view (OK - so that has nothing really to do with this. That phrase just reminded me of this scene, and I'm a Star Wars nerd).

We could all be more responsible with our planet, but if we really think we're a massive threat to it, then we truly are arrogant, indeed. I think George Carlin best summed it up like this. I did the math on this, last year on Earth Day. If you took the 6.5 billion people on the planet, and gave them all 20 square feet (so they all had room to wiggle a little bit), they would cover an area just slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut, the 3rd smallest in the union. Do we really think the planet is worried about us? We're a flyspeck on the map.

In conclusion... The point I'm really trying to make, is that you really need to look at what someone's motivation is, when they're sharing information or trying to excite you about something. Be extra careful about what politicians tell you. And remember, its our job to tell them what the problems are, not the other way around.

And so, as Mr. Carlin took his bow, I do as well. Thanks for reading. I look forward to your responses.

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