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“The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming. What’s our excuse?”

May 5th, 2014 · 4 Comments

At this time, US television screens are graced with several blockbuster science programs.  Showtime’s The Years of Living Dangerously provides serious and substantive looks at climate change. With Cosmos, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, NewsCorp is giving thinking people a substantive reason to tune in every Sunday evening. “Cosmos aims to be a primer on the incredible grandeur of the world around us, lionizing the scientists that have made our greatest discoveries, and hopefully stoking the fires for education and learning in the process.” If we think about the political demographic associated with Fox News, Cosmos’ calm, rather, and thoughtful scientific-based take on the history of Earth (no, not 6000 years), evolution (yes, it happens), and climate change (not that word) might appear shocking.

As to the last, Cosmos’ discussion to date has been relatively muted — certainly not a central focus — but yesterday’s show changed that equation.

Tyson’s commentary:

We just can’t seem to stop burning up all those buried trees from way back in the carboniferous age, in the form of coal, and the remains of ancient plankton, in the form of oil and gas.

If we could, we’d be home free climate wise.

Instead, we’re dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a rate the Earth hasn’t seen since the great climate catastrophes of the past, the ones that led to mass extinctions.

We just can’t seem to break our addiction to the kinds of fuel that will bring back a climate last seen by the dinosaurs, a climate that will drown our coastal cities and wreak havoc on the environment and our ability to feed ourselves.

All the while, the glorious sun pours immaculate free energy down upon us, more than we will ever need.

Why can’t we summon the ingenuity and courage of the generations that came before us?

The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming.

In his calm sonorous voice, Tyson asks a profound question

“What’s our excuse?”

Tip of the hat to Chris Mooney (see that discussion, which has links to other excellent discussions about and with Tyson).

MMfA steps in with Fox vs. FOX: Neil deGrasse Tyson Speaks Out On Climate Change: On Cosmos, Tyson Makes Climate Connections That Fox News Mocks


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Tags: climate change

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 John Egan // May 23, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Oh, Monsieur Siegel –
    But we have seen the National Front coming for a long time.

  • 2 John Egan // May 23, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    And UKIP, too.
    Isn’t that the party of the lovely Lord Monckton?
    So you get extreme Thatcherism with a dollop of nastiness.

  • 3 John Egan // May 25, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    I am hoping that you are pleased with the European Parliament election results. There is a direct connection between your positions & the evolution of those positions and the results we see today. And I have been saying it for years, now.

    Hmmm … globalization and immigration policy is driven by me, frustrations of people without employment or underemployment is 100% on the shoulders of those advocating a clean energy world. Your angry attacks on me personally and accusing me of causation are beyond tiring.

    Let’s see … you wish to find paths to avoid dealing with climate change indefinitely … that is the basic statement you constantly return to along with promotion of coal and other polluting energy.

    In addition, you do understand that the European parliament elections are a ‘protest’ environment, with relatively low — to no — actual impacts on policy?

  • 4 John Egan // May 29, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Oh, mais non – –

    I certainly would NOT accuse you of such influence; however, you and other people who advocate green reactionary policies are, in part, responsible for the backlash by working people throughout the developed world.

    And by your advocacy of policies that increase costs dramatically for the working poor – while at the same time giving little more than lip service to economic justice,

    Again and again and again you make false representations about my work/writing and the potential impacts of actually following my policy prescriptions.

    Serious investments in energy efficiency — lower costs dramatically for the working poor while creating jobs at decent wages that might change ‘working poor’ to ‘working middle class’ for many.

    Serious movements to clean energy investments — moving ever more of the ‘energy dollar’ from fossil fuel extraction industries far from Main Street to paying for labor distributed across the country creating jobs at decent wages that might change ‘working poor’ to ‘working middle class’ for many.

    While, in both cases, having a serious impact on reducing carbon implications.

    And, your definition of “cost” excludes so many quite real costs — from asthma to cancer to … — of fossil fuel use. “Externalized costs” are to be ignored issues from this perspective.

    Etc …

    you fragment any possible progressive response to global capital which is devastating entire economies – especially for those who are voting right-wing.

    Not to mention that your ostrichlike head-in-the-sand-ism is truly mind-boggling. Actually, the EU governming institutions have been amassing increased power of the past decade – – much of it undemocratic.

    Absolutely, the EU bureaucracy has gained massive amounts of power. But, if you actually study governance, that bureaucracy actually doesn’t answer to the EU Parliament all that much.

    That is one reason for the pushback. But worldwide, center-right governments are in the driver’s seats – sometimes with far-right support. If you think you will see any environmental action – let alone climate action – from these governments, you have another thing coming.

    We came to a compromise years back – and you quickly veered far from it.

    Again … huh …? Your grudges are impressive.

    As it turns out, both your strategy and tactics have proved disastrous.

    Again, you are asserting power and influence that would be nice to think that I have.

    Obviously, you could not resist asserting that I have power/influence despite how you introduced this.

    However, my “strategy and tactics” have not been pursued in a serious way by the US or any other government. The impact of my proposed strategies and tactics would be far different than you assert.

    Oh – and BTW – when I posted in July 2008 that oil prices would soon drop and that additional oil resources would come on line. I was pronounced an idiot at best by many at DKos. Guess what – I was right.

    Guess what. You were right on the Bakken / other tight oil production. Prices have stablized, however, at what multiple of what they were 15 years ago? Do you think $35 or $150 barrel/oil is more likely come 2024?

    Have a pleasant June.