It is tempting - and perhaps comforting - to dismiss Stewart’s snark-infused banter solely as sour grapes, both with a bygone election and President Obama’s failures. That, however, would be a mistake.
Stewart’s lightly disguised political commentary reflects a reinvigorated radical environmentalist movement that hopes to leverage the summer heatwave and drought into legislative action on global warming...er, climate change...er, global climate disruption.
Just for fun, let’s imitate Joe Biden by taking Stewart’s joke “literally.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the first six months of 2012 was about 0.94 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, making it the 11th warmest on record. By Stewart’s climate calculations, if we were living in the hypothetical aftermath of an Al Gore administration, the first six months of 2012 would have been 2.06 degrees Fahrenheit BELOW the 20th century average.
What would the “enlightened class” have said about below average temperatures?
A Newsweek article from April 28, 1975, which declared “earth’s climate seems to be cooling down,” gives us an idea:
“If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic. ‘A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale,’ warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, ‘because the global patterns of food production and population that have evolved are implicitly dependent on the climate of the present century.’”
The thought experiment and historical déjà vu raises interesting questions about Earth’s “proper” temperature and climate. It also gets to the inherent assumption made by folks like Jon Stewart, Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, Barack Obama and many others that we can, in fact, control the climate.
Last week, as if to prove Stewart’s pop culture routine is intimately tied to current policy discussions, the Washington Post’s Wonkblog highlighted two of many “zany geoengineering schemes” designed to control earth’s climate: artificial volcanoes and growing plankton in the ocean.