09 June 2012

Climate Change, the Rising Water and the Comedians of the North Carolina Senate

The very exclusive readership of these Dispatches (meaning there’s not a hell of a lot of you) knows how much I value really, really top level humor - particularly satire - particularly satire so subtle that some people take it seriously.

Those imps at the North Carolina State Senate have pulled off the best spoof of the year to date.

Some senators got together and concocted a bill which - get ready for this - legislates what data scientists may consider in estimating future rises in sea-level. 

Legislating science.

And some people have applauded the idea because it’s such a great idea to hog-tie that darn myth of global climate change.

Legislating science, get it?

Back in the private caucuses, the Senate bosses are sipping their bourbon and branch water and choking on their guffaws.  I have the image in mind of Bugs Bunny laughing and mocking Elmer Fudd when he falls victim to one of that Wascally Wabbit’s zany tricks.

In order to pull off a successful subtle satire gag, it has to be done with a straight face. 

One of the truly great satirical hoaxes of science occurred in 1998 when the story went around that conservatives proposed a law in Arkansas that would make the value of π conform to the “Biblical” value set out in I Kings 7:23, exactly 3.0.  Of course, that was a total hoax, and no one in Arkansas had los huevos actually to introduce such a bill.

The Tarheels went one better: That actually put the bill in the hopper.  The original version “required” that the science be performed such that future sea-levels would be forecast only by linearly extrapolating historical data.

Some environmental groups and liberals (the dumber ones) went apeshit - They took it seriously.

A problem, though, was that the whole notion was so colossally idiotic that nobody with a high school education and a month’s sobriety believed it.  OK, maybe some very literal Biblical scholars believed that Moses would return and command the oceans to move like he commanded the Red Sea to part, but they were a really small minority.

And so, the science sprites in Raleigh modified the bill.  They made it sound serious:

  •  [Rates of sea-level rise] shall be determined using statistically significant, peer-reviewed historical data generated using generally accepted scientific and statistical techniques. Historic rates of sea-level rise may be extrapolated to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise unless such rates are from statistically significant, peer-reviewed data and are consistent with historic trends.

There still are some nitwits who are taking this seriously.  Then think that Americans would elect to public office someone who would legislate science, not to say repeal the First Amendment when opinions might run contrary to their preconceptions.

Nothing I can say can improve on this one.  These guys in NC, it’s Belushi & Bill Murray all over again.

Sala'am, Senators.  You're the wildest.

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