Turkey Lurkeys Wanted


Following in the grand apocalyptic tradition of Paul Ehrlich, William Butler Yeats, and Chicken Little, the World Wildlife Fund is set to release a report on the state of the planet tomorrow. The prognosis, warns the London Guardian, is not good. Countless species will perish, global warming will intensify, and most vital resources will be exhausted by the year 2050. A ridiculous link from the article reads "Earth to expire? Talk about it online."

The next few weeks will see environmental writers right, left, and faux center argue over the data, the methodology, and, most importantly, each other's motives. Lefties will denounce skeptics as shills for industry. Skeptics will fire back that they don't call it the World Wildlife Fund for nothing.

Meanwhile, us environmental ignoramuses will continue to muddle about with vague intuitions about the extent of The Problem or what is to be done about it diagnoses largely informed by our politics. Those to the left of center tend to magnify the problem and favor government solutions. Conservatives try to "put things in perspective" and argue that spilled oil can actually make quite the balanced diet for otters, penguins, and baby seals.

One problem is that two sides are talking past, rather than with each other. Most environmentalists aren't able to understand how changes quite apart from the government (e.g. energy saving devices and cloning) can reduce pollution and rescue species. Conservatives, for their part, are unable to interpret the apocalyptic milieu from which such dire warnings as this current report spring. From a religious perspective, the absolute accuracy of apocalyptic pronunciations (see Revelation) is not nearly as important as the overall sentiment, in this case that we ought to be concerned about how we affect nature.

What this melodrama needs is a Turkey Lurkey to sternly remind everyone that the sky is not falling and that we can muddle through.