it Worth the Risk?
By Andrew Longworth
Here's a question: if a person told you that the odds of
winning the lotto had increased one million fold, what would
you do? Let's also say that the New York Lottery had just
dropped the winning six to the winning three. What would you
do? What's more, there are no longer 50 numbers but 20 numbers
now from which to choose. Your odds would improve considerably,
right? What would you do? Despite the odds, still being stacked
against you, you would still spend everything short of your
kid's college fund to have a shot at millions, wouldn't you?
All you need to do is get three numbers right. Sure, you might
not get the 120 million dollar payout everyone covets, but
you would still win a hefty amount. It only seems logical
to act on this.
Next question: if all of a sudden the government went haywire
and announced that driving while under the influence was now
legal and that a recent survey estimated that one out of every
ten motorists out there was driving while intoxicated, what
would you do? Hail a cab with your fingers crossed instead
of with the old palm up approach? Chances are you would walk
before you even chose to take a bus.
Or how about this one: if there were a possibility of reinstating
the draft (and that possibility seems very real these days),
what are the odds you'd be a proponent of it if you had teenage
twin sons in their sophomore year of High School? What if
the government told you there was a one in twenty chance that
a drafted soldier would return home in a body bag (pardon
me, a "transport tube"), after proclaiming their
next series of preventive wars? While I don't deny that the
true patriots would rally to the cause, even at the likely
expense of their own offspring, I am certain that most people
would rally for a different cause and anti-war protests would
rocket to a new high.
Why all the hypothetical palaver? Why harp on the ifs and
In a 2000 poll conducted by Fortune 500, business executives
were asked whether they thought global warming was a serious
problem. A resounding 75% said yes, and that government should
act on it. Polls, shmolls, you might say, and you may be right.
The jury is still out on whether it is real, many conservatives
would claim. But let's examine the American people as well:
in a Zogby International poll, Americans advocate reducing
global warming by a ratio of four to one, 79% to 17%, to be
I could throw numbers at you all day, and people still wouldn't
budge. I feel the people in Talking Head TV Land could blab
amongst themselves about whether we may or may not be drowning
in smog. I could be telling you about melting glaciers and
polar ice. I could tell you about the environmental group
REP America (Republicans for Environmental Protection) and
people like Teddy Roosevelt who started putting aside wildlife
for National Parks and Richard Nixon who signed the Clean
Air Act and established the Environmental Protection Agency,
and the Limbaughs and the Coulters would still scoff and swear
up and down that it's Bugs Bunny sliding down the chimney
every Christmas Eve, not Santa.
If the Enviros are right, we need to change, rapidly. If
the neo-cons are right, then it was a false alarm, and we
can conduct business as usual. The only problem here is, it's
not a question of right or wrong, but is it worth taking
Bush himself said in June 2001 that, "No one can say
with any certainty what constitutes a dangerous level of warming
and therefore what level must be avoided."
In other words, if you're not certain, do nothing. Great.
That's just the nihilism I have come to expect and what our
government has been excelling at for so long, so that should
not be too difficult. And yet, both the USA and the USSR (who
just proclaimed their rejection of the Kyoto treaty) manage
to do less than zero, meaning pouring fire onto the fire.
Then again, the conservatives will argue "What fire?"
But then again, if somebody told you at a store that there
were a hundred lollipops and that one of them had been soaked
in gasoline, would you take the chance of purchasing one for
your son? What if you were a door-to-door salesman and the
police alerted you to the fact that out of the hundred or
so homes you were visiting that day, one would have a rabies-infested
dog waiting at the door? What if you were taking a plane to
the other coast to visit your parents over the holidays and
a reliable source told you that one plane was going to be
hijacked out of the one hundred planes leaving that morning?
Please note that I gave merely a one in a hundred chance
to all of the above occurrences. Why is it we fail to act
when there may be an even bigger chance that we will all fry
like rotisserie chickens soon? Are we frozen in time? What
will it take to wake us from our stupor?
Let's just not leave a decision as important as this up
to the Coulters and Limbaughs of this world. One thing we
have learned about the conservatives is this: they despise
change, even if it means filling all the chambers before playing
Russian Roulette. Their reliability in changing things is
as likely as a pack of hyenas accepting a sick baby elephant
as one of their own and nursing it back to good health.
One thing we have learned a long time ago is that they won't
change, even with a climate that likely will.