TCS Daily


Cover Me Vanity

By James Pinkerton - April 18, 2006 12:00 AM

I have decided I want to be on the cover of Vanity Fair. Here's why, and here's how.

The "why" is easy: The glamour of it all. The Oscar party in Los Angeles. Even better, the chance to eat in the Frank Gehry-designed Conde-Nast cafeteria in Times Square. And green is a good color for me; I see from the latest cover, "The Green Issue," that the magazine likes it, too. As editor Graydon Carter writes, "Green Is the New Black." Well, I'd look fabulous! Maybe not as fab as wood-nymphy Julia Roberts, or tweedy George Clooney, but I think I can keep up with Al Gore, coolness quotient-wise.

The "how" is a little trickier. I am no Hollywood star, and besides, on advice of public relations counsel, I am unwilling to take off my clothes, like, most recently, Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley. But still, I know what I want, and I'm persistent.

So here's the two-step plan.

First, convince myself of some New Green Truths. This isn't easy; I have to unlearn what I learned about history and human nature. I had long thought that wars, plagues, the Holocaust and, more recently, 9-11, were about as bad as it could get, evil-wise.

But now I am striving to see the green light. Fortunately for my unlearning effort, I have the magazine in front of me, starting with that tantalizing cover. It says right there, right on the cover: "A threat graver than terrorism: global warming." Got that? Global warming is worse than Bin Laden with nuclear weapons. I will admit that I'm not quite there yet, mentally, but I'm going to keep working at it.

And Gore, who pens an essay inside the magazine, makes it easy. With the subtle powers of persuasion for which he has become known, the former Vice President reminds me that Bush ignored the warnings about Al-Qaeda prior to 9-11, and now, even worse, he is ignoring the even more dire warnings about global warming. As the author of Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit he writes, "Where there's a blinding lack of situational awareness, the people perish."

Speaking of perishing, Gore makes a further argument that I really need to commit to memory, to eliminate any nagging doubts about the proportionality of global warming to other tragedies:

"Nearly 70 years ago, when a horrible and unprecedented storm of another kind was gathering in Europe, British prime minister Neville Chamberlain found it inconvenient to see the truth about the nature of the evil posed by the Nazis." Parenthetically, this notion of an "inconvenient truth" is popular in Green circles; that's the title of a new documentary starring Al Gore. Another goal, incidentally: To be in a documentary produced by Clooney's company. Anyway, back to Gore in VF:

"In criticizing his government's blinding lack of awareness, Winston Churchill said, 'So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.' After the appeasement of Munich, Churchill said, 'This is only the first sip, the first foretaste, of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year.'"

There, Gore said it: Not acting decisively against global warming is like not acting decisively against Hitler. Or, actually, maybe it's worse now: "Today there are dire warnings that the worst catastrophe in the history of human civilization is bearing down on us." Wow. OK, I'm getting pumped now.

So here's the second part of the plan. Armed with many copies of this magazine -- which includes inside the "killer app," a series of photo-illustrations of the effect of global warming on such key spots as New York City, the Hamptons, and Martha's Vineyard -- I will go forth and persuade the world's leaders to heed the glamorous wisdom of Julia, George, Graydon, and Al. I will persuade the planet's top honchos really to get serious about stopping global warming. And then, as my reward, I will surely be on the cover of some future VF. If I do a lot, I should get a lot.

Let's start with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He seems like an easy fellow to work with, right? I mean, you can look right into his eyes and see that he has a good soul. And the Soviets always honored their agreements, right? So why not the Russians? Yes, it's true that that energy exports account for something like 80 percent of Russia's total exports, but once I explain to Vlad that global warming is worse than the Nazis, what choice will he have but to agree with me?

Next up: China. Here's a preview of my pitch: "Now see here, President Hu Jintao. You fellas are growing your economy at 8 or 10 percent a year, and you think that's great, but if you look at page 205 of the magazine here, you will see that if present trends continue, Walter Cronkite's house on Martha's Vineyard will be flooded! I mean, c'mon -- let's get real here!"

On to India. Another booming country. I'll say to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he, too, has a duty to the Vineyard. And when he points out that India's carbon dioxide emissions are just 1/20 of what the US's are, and just half of the world's average, and so why should his country cooperate with the US -- well, I'll just stop him right there. "Look," I'll say, "if you are to have any chance of hanging with George and Graydon, you're going to have to play ball."

Around the world I will go. To Brazil, for example. President Lula da Silva loves the United States, so he'll love Vanity Fair, right? And so he'll love what I, the latest white person to come south to tell him how to run his country, have to say to him.

Now the Middle East, I will admit, might be a bit of a tough sell. The Saudi Arabians are pretty invested in oil, I'll give you that. So I figure I'll just go over the heads of the Saudi leadership; I will appear on Al-Jazeera and explain to the Arabs that global warming is the most important issue they face, too. I mean, yes, they have their own concerns, and yes, many of them hate the West, but surely they hate global warming even more. And by going on Al-Jazeera, I'll reach Bin Laden, too. I am, of course, a realist: He will keep on jihading no matter what I say, but at least he could reduce his carbon footprint as he plots his next terror attack.

And while in the Middle East, I might as well hop over to Iraq. To save time, I'll simply arrange a four-way meeting between the Ayatollah Sistani, Abu Musab Zarqawi, Ahmed Chalabi, and General Casey and say, here's the deal: Keep fighting if you want to, but no more burning tires! Same message to the Israelis and Palestinians, of course. And then, logically, to Iran. President Ahmadinejad will probably tell me that the advances his country is making toward nuclear power will be of great help in the cause of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And I'll tell him, in response: "I'll be watching you like a hawk, Mahmoud, to make sure that the GHG trendline is headed in the right direction -- downward!" Trust, but verify.

Finally, back to the US and my meeting with George W. Bush. As a bit of strategery, I'm not going to mention my VF cover-boy plan to the President. After all, Bush has been slapped around pretty hard by the VF crowd, including editor Carter. So instead, I'll simply tell Bush that all the other important countries in the world have signed on to serious Kyoto-like CO2 reductions. In other words, all the concerns that the US might have -- such as the fear that factories will leave the regulated US for unregulated offshore locations -- have now been dealt with, as the world agrees to a new universal economic and environmental harmony. So, George, why not join up with all your friends in the rest of the world?

I wonder what the President will say. One thought I've had is this: He will tell me, "Jim, if you can get all the countries of the world together to oppose global warming, to take verifiable collective action, no matter how much it hurts, can you help me on some of my issues? I've been worrying, for example, about how to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, how to spread, instead, democracy and freedom. And in addition, my wife, Laura, worries about literacy and women's issues. Can you, Jim, use your evidently vast powers of persuasion to solve all those problems, too? And while you're at it, why not universal and permanent peace? Why not get the lion to lie down with the lamb? And, while you're at, why not save the whales -- and the baby seals? And have I told you about my sore back?"

I'll admit, he'll have a point. Why should I confine myself to solving just one of the world's problems -- even if it is, as Gore says, by far the he most serious -- when I can solve all of them?

Now that Bush has gotten me to thinking, maybe I should take on other issues, too. For example, what about Vanity Fair itself? Much as I want to be on the cover, shouldn't it clean up its own act? All those limos at the Oscar party -- not a one of them a Prius, from what I could see. And even the "Green Issue" makes some strange choices. Yes, Julia Roberts is to be admired for using eco-friendly diapers on her twins, but is it right to label Arnold Schwarzenegger as "passionately pro-environment," with no mention made of his Hummer and his cigar smoking? And Graydon Carter smokes, too, and drives an SUV. Some might say that VF shows itself to be both elitist and hypocritical; that's not a good way to win over the bulk of national and international public opinion.

In the meantime, serious arguments about ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as reviving nuclear power, are neglected entirely in VF. I am sure that's an oversight; so when I see Graydon, I will show him the piece in Sunday's Washington Post in which Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace, makes a green argument for more nukes. Graydon will appreciate my logical argument, right? Even if a pro-nuclear stance puts him crosswise with his Hamptons-Hollywood friends?

I will further tell Graydon that I worry the environmental movement is at grave risk -- at risk of being stereotyped as elitist, more worried about Martha's Vineyard than the real world, where most of six billion people scratch out a meager existence, in which global warming is about 100th on their list of concerns.

Graydon will appreciate such advice, right? He'll still put me on the cover of his magazine anyway, won't he?

James Pinkerton is a TCS columnist and Fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C.

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16 Comments

dumb
Pinkerton's repetitive, protracted, and very long winded attempt at satire . . . not funny.

He's annoyed that Vanity Fair takes Al Gore and global warming seriously. He doesn't want science to spoil his gasoline party, any more than a teenager wants to be sober every time he drives a car.

And I would like GW deniers responding to state whether they personally have any training in atmospheric science.
Why is the sky blue and sunsets red, particularly in LA?
What is the Hadley cell?

Some fun in that
Your so bad!! The graphic is a chuckle though.

really
And what is the mideveal warming? The little ice age? the Halocene maximum? GW activist, clueless as usual.

dumb?
What's dumb is the religious fanatics who insist that "science" supports their claim that we are headed for global catastrophe from CO2 increases.

Tell us, LiberalGoodman, when are you going to provide a list of scientists who support the claims of global catastrophe?

i would like to see that list
As I can provide a list of several noted scientists who don't support that claim.

conversly LG
Just how much training do you have.
Or is only the deniers who have to know what they are talking about.

scientific literacy
Someone asked for names of climate scientists who support global warming. That's easy. Collect any list of climate scientists and 90% believe GW. You can get names from membership in the AGU or authorship of GW articles in scientific journals or earth science departments of major universities. Nobody who works in an actual science research institution would dispute this.

My questions deliberately were generic earth science rather than GW debate buzz words. I want to see who has generic science training. Few who do dispute GW, and those who do (e.g. a poster here from Alabama U) understand that most of their colleagues disagree.

As for the holocene maximum, do you think climate scientists ignore these things? That wouldn't be very scientific. Check the web site (government research lab) for the quote below.

http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html

> Large and rapid climatic changes affecting the
> atmospheric and oceanic circulation and temperature,
> and the hydrological cycle, occurred during the last
> ice age and during the transition towards the present
> Holocene period (which began about 10,000 years ago).
> Based on the incomplete evidence available, the
> projected change of 3 to 7°F (1.5 - 4°C) over the
> next century would be unprecedented in comparison
> with the best available records from the last several
> thousand years.

Bull, name the names
You sould easily be able to come up with 1,000 of them; but make sure you have the right ones or your arguement is lost for all times.

this is the typical fortunato arguement, "Oh well, everyone agrees" that is obviously not the case and that has been proven in these forums.

Cover Me Vanity
The questions I'm sweating to know are...

Question #10 - Does global warming mean that we won't be able to ski Aspen anymore?

Question #9 - Should I invest in Coppertone?

Question #8 - Does Kyoto taste better eaten raw or with ketchup?

Question #7 - Do I need another air conditioner for my doublewide?

Question #6 - Carbon emissions? Does that have anything to do with a wet dream?

Question #5 - How do you change a dirty climate?

Question #4 - Is carbonated water good for greenhouse gas?

Question #3 - Will Harold and Cindy get together again?

Question #2 - If the sea rises, will the water be warm at the Albuquerque Beach?

(drum roll please)

Question #1 - Did Al Gore invent global warming?



answers
yes, no (will be too cloudy), better if someone else eats it, no more air conditioning (creates too much GHG), yes (Al Gore's), with an environmentalists (and recycle), yes, no, most likely, and (drum roll please) absolutely!

translation
no such list exists, but I'll try to bluff my way out of this corner.

global warming policy is more dangerous than terorism
"A threat graver than terrorism: global warming."

If the green whackos and their political allies have their way the (further) destruction of property rights and individual liberty is indeed more of a threat to all of us than terrorists are. Terrorism by its very nature is limited and random in its impact; on the other hand, tyrannical government policy and enforcement is widespread and effects everyone.

if anybody wants to know
If you actually want to know, look at

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686

If you don't, any retort will be fine.

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