I, however, refuse to see the apocalypse in every balmy day. And I think it's wrong to let our children believe they'll be swept away before they get a chance to fret about college admissions. An article in The Post this spring described children anxious, sleepless and tearful about the end; one 9-year-old said she worried about global warming "because I don't want to die."
Think of the children! Now you, like me, might be less concerned about our children being afraid of global warming as opposed to actually having to live in a world radically transformed for the much worse as a result of global warming, but that just shows we've surrendered to the fear-mongering.
Anyway, as I am want to do from time to time, I wrote Ms. Yoffe an email. Realizing it also makes for a decent blog post, I reprint it here for you in full:
I read your columns for Slate.com often, and have always found you to be an eminently sensible writer. As a result, I am profoundly disappointed to read your column in the Washington Post wherein you decry the concern over global warming. Why? To be brief:
Sometimes news is scary because the blunt facts that are reported are frightening. If the news reports that a murderer is on the loose around your house, you don't condemn the reporters and then go shopping at 10 at night. I exaggerate to make my point, but the point remains nonetheless. I'm sure you've seen the movie or you wouldn't be writing about this topic, but the truth is Gore's movie present the issue of global warming in very even and measured tones. There's no hysteria. Only a recitation of facts as he sees them, and as most climate scientists accept them. While it bothers me to hear that any child is afraid she's going to die, adults are not entitled to moderate their opinions on topics so as not to frighten children. Such would be the height of irresponsibility, to leave a damaged world to our children because we were afraid doing something about it would scare them.
Nit-picking at disagreements among climate scientists over relatively minor expressions of global warming does not refute the fact of global warming. No responsible climate scientists-nor Gore-states that they can predict how global warming will affect rainfall, or hurricanes, or the actual temperatures in specific regions. They only report the long-term trend of global warming, and the eventual effects it will have it if proceeds unimpeded. Your tactic is the same that creationists employ to "dispute" the theory of evolution, and it is similarly ineffective and uninformed...except to people who don't know any better, to whom you do a disservice with your writing.
Although you try very hard to sound otherwise, your column can be summed up to read "Don't worry about global warming! I'm telling you it'll be okay, and I don't care what those 'experts' say!" You do not, to my knowledge, have any particulare expertise in the field of climate science, so you'll excuse me if I continue to be moderately concerned about the future and spend my time telling my family and friends that we need to do something about it so my child-who I teach not to be fearful, but prudent-is not raised in a world that is more unpleasant to live in than the one I was raised in.
Normally I don't write long emails about every piece of uninformed writing that I read in a day (I'd never have time to do anything else.) But because I've found you to be sensible and enjoyable to read in the past, I feel that there's some chance that you may read what I read and be persuaded of the correctness of my opinion. Perhaps you can reconsider your stance on this issue, and accept that those who wish to do something about it are only being reasonable and responsible.
I find it's always nice to being with just a smidgen of flattery before you bluntly point out someone's wrongness to them. Regardless, I suppose the short-and-sweet summary of my response would be, wanting to not be afraid of the consequences of global warming will not make global warming go away. It's pretty much that simple.