Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chad's Takes

Of the two topics, celebrating America's non-selection for the Olympic Games in 2016 is more absurd. But I happen to believe that panning Obama's selection as the Nobel Peace Prize winner is more interesting. I question anyone's judgment on the matter, purely from an intelligence standpoint. I wonder how many quick critics of the decision knew the details of past winners, or more simply, knew past winners? Perhaps people who claimed, in ill-advised fashion, that past nominations included Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, didn't know that it required only one qualified person to nominate a person? And that qualified person comes out of a large list of people. (Of course, this is talking about nominations. Not winners from those nominations.)

To bash the Nobel Peace Prize because Arafat was a recipient neglects to inform the reader/listener that Rabin and Peres were co-winners. To claim Obama's win is without merit is a slap in the face to Gorbachev, who won before the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end to the Cold War.

People who take the big stand, whether voluntarily or otherwise, who advocate peace among nations seem credible recipients (to me) for the Nobel Peace Prize. Obama has done that, repeatedly, in his short duration as President. (The claim that only the time up to the nomination of Obama is relevant is not correct. The time after which the nomination is given but before the selection is made also matters in the selection process.) Of course, he did that before he was even President.

In this arena, speeches do matter. His speeches in Europe during the campaign and to the Muslim world this summer were announcements to the world that a new vision of foreign policy and international cooperation were coming (if he were elected President for the former, while he was President for the latter). Aggressive diplomacy with Iran has led to the agreement of UN inspections of a nuclear facility in the country.

Of course, we should already be aware of why speeches matter. Otherwise, Martin Luther King's Nobel Peace Prize wouldn't make much sense.

Heard of Martti Ahtisaari? I'm guessing a lot of you haven't. He was last year's winner. What country is he from? What did he do to earn the prize? Unless you can answer questions like these, and come to terms with the precedents in the selection of such recipients as I have mentioned above, your "opinion" of Obama's earning the prize? Well, you can have it. But calm yourselves down, or be prepared to provide a substantive argument for it. In front of me, at least.


Visiting all of the US national parks is elitist? As my previous post mentions, a recent op-ed piece makes the suggestion. Arguments such as "You won't understand the parks if you spend a little time at all of them versus a lot of time at some of them!" and "Think of the carbon footprint for all of the travel that you put in to making the visits!" were used. My opinion?


Visiting national parks is a show of support for their existence and continued efforts to preserve these national treasures. And what does it matter if people don't grasp every single aspect of a park? I imagine it would take several lifetimes to understand the complexities of Yellowstone, the terrain of Glacier, or the ecosystem of the Everglades. I wonder if it is even possible to visit every single acre of Wrangell-St. Elias, every single aspect of the glaciers at Glacier Bay, every cove of Acadia, every mountain of the North Cascades. I know it isn't possible to hike every mile of Rocky Mountain or Shenandoah.

I wish I could ask the writer of this poor excuse for an editorial if he can name every animal who lives in Wrangell, since he uses it in his argument. I wonder if he can name all the plant species found in Olympic, every granite structure in Yosemite, every waterfall in Kings Canyon. Can he decipher all of the rock drawings in Mesa Verde, raft the waters in Black Canyon of the Gunnison?

I doubt it. So, piece of advice, Mr. Goetzman. Put your money where your mouth is. Or a sock.


I've been hearing a rather strange argument more and more against climate change recently. It's not a new argument, certainly, but I've heard it rather frequently the last few months. So much so that I finally must say something.

The argument goes something like this: "I think it is pretty bold/arrogant of us to argue that we can change the climate so dramatically."

Really? Remember the Cold War? Where the threat of nuclear war was prevalent in society? When the very real possibility of the planet's "nuclear death" was a daily thought? No, it didn't happen. But it certainly COULD have, and there is much scientific evidence to back this claim up.

Such nuclear death of a planet, which would essentially make the planet one of "insects and grass", as one author put it, seems to be a fairly large "anthropogenic" impact. I think it is naive to claim that we couldn't affect the climate of the earth (which would obviously have been influenced by such a calamitous event).

A corollary of this argument, of course, is that the increase in carbon dioxide is natural. What scientific evidence is available to back this claim up? In other words, what natural sources of carbon dioxide emissions can possibly explain the approximately exponential increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Do you think scientists haven't looked into the possibility of natural sources (e.g., volcanoes/earthquakes, ocean sources, changing plant/animal sources -- the latter of which, obviously, may be influenced by human activities)?

Provide this evidence, and I'll consider the possibility. But refuting the claims of a legion of experts in the climate field without such evidence seems incredibly arrogant to me.