When Gieg gets to this point in his argument, as he often does when talking about global warming, he gets a little frustrated. “I always get sidetracked because, first of all, the science isn’t good. Second, there are all these other interpretations for what we see. Third, it doesn’t make any difference, and fourth, it’s distracting us from environmental problems that really matter.” Among those, Gieg says, are the millions of people a year who die from smoking and two million people a year who die because they don’t have access to clean water.
Bob Giegengack likes to point out that there was a time when people like him were called natural philosophers, and he wouldn’t mind a return to the days when scientists spent more time asking questions and less time testifying before committees.
But that won’t happen soon. Now that Democrats run Congress again, they’re likely to ramp up the hearings to chide the Republicans for what they see as nearly a decade of stonewalling and misinformation on global warming. After all, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Committee on the Environment, Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe, ignited a wildfire in the groves of environmentalism when he called the idea of catastrophic global warming a “hoax.”
Movie stars will continue to move in on the action. And look for Al Gore to keep rolling along as the Energizer Bunny of global warming, beating his drum incessantly, powered by a carbon-neutral battery.
In the long view, a geologist like Giegengack can take some comfort in, well, the long view. “There’s all this stuff about saving the planet,” he says. “The Earth is fine. The Earth was fine before we got here, and it’ll be fine long after we’re gone.”
That will probably be on the final.
John Marchese is a contributing writer. His book The Violin Maker: Finding a Centuries-Old Tradition in a Brooklyn Workshop will be published in the spring.
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