Climate Change

Tore and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Global Warming Day

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A children's book about little boy who can't win a dogsled race because of global warming is making the rounds at the UN Climate Change Conference in Kenya, where our own Ron Bailey is standing by. The book, called Tore and the Town on Thin Ice, is trickling through the usual "outraged conservative" circles after being promoted as the "Majority Fact of the Day" today on the webpage of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

But the real outrage is just how bad the book is. The art is confusing and smeary (see the whole book here [PDF]), while the dialogue is peculiarly tone deaf. I can only hope that the book was originally written in another language:

Tore went to bed early that night, his head spinning with the news he'd heard. Soon Sedna appeared.

"What's happening, Sea Mother?" blurted Tore. "What can we do? And how can I help?"

"That's the spirit," said Sedna. "You can be my strongest ally."

"Think for a moment: What makes the modern world possible? What runs cars and snowmobiles, makes electricity for computers and factories, heats houses and schools?"

"Well, energy. Mostly oil and coal, I guess." …

"Rich countries use—and waste—an awful lot of energy. Huge cars. Too many cars instead of efficient trains and buses. Lights and machines that take more electricity than necessary. Heaters and air conditioners that run even when they're not needed…."

Tore should go into Wikipedia as the illustration for the entry on mission creep.

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  1. Good, but not quite “Why Mommy is a Democrat.”

  2. “Rich countries use-and waste-an awful lot of energy. Huge cars. Too many cars instead of efficient trains and buses. Lights and machines that take more electricity than necessary. Heaters and air conditioners that run even when they’re not needed?.”

    Now I understand. If only we would all live like the Rwandans and Bangladeshis, everything would be great. Quick, somebody let Al Gore know what his lifestyle is doing!

  3. I blame myself.

  4. I was happier when Monkey Boy was swinging from trees and being eaten by predators. So, Tore, you can help by sticking your Worcestershire-covered arm into the mouth of a lion.

    Keeping Monkey Boy down–that’s what it’s all about.

  5. Hey! Wow! Someone recognized our existence! We’re here in the tundra. Someone send help!

    We’d like to move to Florida en masse, please. Otherwise, we’re taking balmy Greenland by force.

    Signed,

    The People of the Nunavut Territory

  6. Makes me long for the favorite ecologist agit-prop of my childhood (barring Ranger Rick of course).

    Awesome, it’s a quick Google away, online in pdf form. Hooray Interwebs!

    I proudly present “The Day They Parachuted Cats On Borneo”, a story about mankind interfering in complex systems through the use of DDT as malaria control. Both good and bad outcomes ensue. I assure you that nonetheless, this is Shakespeare next to the Tore story in the post.

    http://www2.visalia.k12.ca.us/eldiamante/science/biology/powerpoints/Borneo.pdf

  7. Keeping Monkey Boy down–that’s what it’s all about.

    Nay nay, Sea Mother, doing the hokey pokey, that’s what it’s all about.

    Color me OLD.

  8. Holy Lieutenant Uhuru, Ron, would that be Sedna the Inuit sea goddess? She’s a hot property since they named a frozen planetoid after her, so what’s the skinny from Nairobi on how soon global warming will thaw the Kuiper belt, raise the temperature of the Big Bang background radiation and evaporate black holes into extinction?

    Have the WaBenzi started to envy the WaPrius crowd?

  9. I have a cunning plan. Place rockets on the Moon and move it so that it permanently stays between the Earth and the Sun. This should cool Earth sufficiently to ensure the extermination of that pestilence of pestilences, Monkey Boykind.

  10. Of course children’s books seem stupid to adults.

  11. Now I understand. If only we would all live like the Rwandans and Bangladeshis, everything would be great. Quick, somebody let Al Gore know what his lifestyle is doing!

    Right, because common-sense energy conservation that barely if at all affects our standard of living is trying to live like the Rwandans.

    Fuck you.

  12. For a website called “Reason” it seems odd that so many here simply think that making fun of any problem is the best way to solve it.

  13. Of course children’s books seem stupid to adults.

    Perhaps the books *you* had as a child, Dan.

    I was just thinking, there’s so much great children’s literature out there. Why would anyone waste time or money on such a crummy book when you could buy something great on half.com for a quarter?

  14. We also make fun of people who post messages that begin: “For a website called ‘Reason’ …”

  15. Of course children’s books seem stupid to adults.

    Sometimes to the kids too.

    Then again, most GW news reads like children’s books to begin with. That or a Herblock or Toles cartoon. Take your pick.

  16. Right, because common-sense energy conservation that barely if at all affects our standard of living is trying to live like the Rwandans.

    Fuck you.

    Andy, you are oh so civil today. What’s the matter? Are you constipated are just a general jerk?

  17. common-sense energy conservation

    You wanna know why I conserve energy? Because I’m cheap. I’d rather spend money on beer. Just call me a Daughter of Gaia.

  18. Hey, I’m all in favor of Sedna’s plan to wipe out all technology and reduce mankind to also-ran status. Of course, I’m descended from a combination of selkies and humans, so I tend to side with sea god types.

    Huh. I just had a revelation. Myths like those about selkies and mermaids typically talk about the transformation of animals into babealicious women. I wonder if these legends stem from the excuses given by men who’ve been caught having improper relations with animals? “Um, no, this isn’t a seal, it’s a woman who can switch from seal to human guise at will.” “No, that wasn’t a bull, that was Zeus. You know how Zeus is.”

  19. “For a website called “Reason” …

    I always thought that Reason should hold a contest for the best post that starts with those five words.

  20. “Andy, you are oh so civil today. What’s the matter? Are you constipated are just a general jerk?”

    Excuse me for failing to be “civil” with someone who apparently treats any call, no matter how sensible, to conserve our natural resources and protect our environment as though the speaker wanted to send them back to the dark ages. Please correct me if I’m wrong but your little snicker and Al Gore reference does nothing to help anybody.

  21. I, for one, welcome our new Nunavut overlords.

    Though I have to womder why the whale even gives a shit.

  22. “Andy, you are oh so civil today. What’s the matter? Are you constipated are just a general jerk?”

    Excuse me for failing to be “civil” with someone who apparently treats any call, no matter how sensible, to conserve our natural resources and protect our environment as though the speaker wanted to send them back to the dark ages. Please correct me if I’m wrong but your little snicker and Al Gore reference do nothing to help anybody.

  23. Let’s talk about the energy that andy and Dan T probably waste. House temp below 100 degrees in the summer? Above 55 in the winter? Driving for less than 5 miles? Reading after dark? Television? Radio? Reheating leftovers? Get the hint, you moral hypocrits?

  24. Right, because common-sense energy conservation that barely if at all affects our standard of living is trying to live like the Rwandans.

    Well, that level of energy conservation also won’t make any difference at all to global warmening and our other planet-raping tendencies.

    No, the kind of conservation necessary to reduce the human impact on Mother Gaia to an imperceptible level is the kind that exceeds “common sense” and will most definitely affect your standard of living.

  25. Hmm, let’s see, in my lifetime, I’ve lived through the scourges and potential apocalyptic scenarios of: global cooling; the threat of nuclear annihilation, nuclear winter; overpopulation and mass starvation; AIDS; Y2K; SARS; the Drug epidemic; Pornography; Violent video games; the Gun epidemic; Bird Flu; Islamofascism; the Democrats winning the election; and the movies of Adam Sandler.

    Maybe I’m just getting old, but I just can’t get very worked up about Global Warming.

    (Especially since many of the loudest voices demanding action are generally people who have somehow managed to actually run their governments worse than the idiots in charge of ours.)

  26. Andy, My little snicker about Al Gore, was a reference to his energy usage compared to mine and 5 others like me. Maybe it was too subtle for you.

  27. heh, RC – warmening reminds me of “havening” and the Chronicles of George.

  28. …and then, just as the ELF arrived to comfort Tore, the ALF showed up and took away Tore’s sled dogs, beat him silly and shamed him for treating his dogs in such a cruel way. It was all too much for Tore who harpooned himself and died in the last igloo ever made. His father drank himself to death and his mother died from eating contaminated whale blubber. The Eskimos sued the Canadian government for allowing improper diets and just as the court was about to announce their decision, Haliburton turned off the sun. The End.

  29. Let’s talk about the energy that andy and Dan T probably waste. House temp below 100 degrees in the summer? Above 55 in the winter? Driving for less than 5 miles? Reading after dark? Television? Radio? Reheating leftovers? Get the hint, you moral hypocrits?

    Good point! And I don’t want any Reasonoid who has attended public school or driven on the highway to complain about “big government” either!

  30. Good point! And I don’t want any Reasonoid who has attended public school or driven on the highway to complain about “big government” either!

    Considering that the police fatally shot a man in Utah just over 25 years ago for trying to homeschool his children, I doubt most of our parents had any choice in the matter back then…

  31. “You’re supposed to tell me what’s going on
    around here, not remind me of my problems,”
    Tore sulked.

    Ay ay ay! I don’t care which side you put yourself on. Left, right, hippie, fascist, tree-hugger, logger – that S-U-C-K-S!

    Of course children’s books seem stupid to adults.

    There are great kid’s books. Dammit, man! Have you not read Dr Suess? Shel Silverstein? Where the Wild Things Are? Everyone Poops?
    Get thee to a library!

  32. …and the movies of Adam Sandler.

    Dear G-d, man, how you have suffered!

  33. What’s wrong with you people? The World is Ending. It will be an average of 119 degrees everywhere on earth by 2023. The TV told me so.

    (of course, that was TV, my “man” down the street that wears dresses and not necessarily Sue Palka my trusted, local meteorologist)

    And, uhh, andy:
    1) Lighten up.
    2) How is this propaganda book at all “sensible?” (I suppose if you consider An Inconvenient Truth, or Farenheit 911 sensible, then this is self-explanatory.)

  34. Vaguely reminds me of the video game “A Force More Powerful.” Should have been named, “A Game More Boring.”

  35. “…wipe out all technology and reduce mankind to also-ran status…”

    “…would all live like the Rwandans and Bangladeshis…”

    “…swinging from trees and being eaten by predators…”

    “…ensure the extermination of that pestilence of pestilences, Monkey Boykind…”

    Anti-environmentalists are such hysterics.

    It’s a good thing no one give a shit.

  36. Good point! And I don’t want any Reasonoid who has attended public school or driven on the highway to complain about “big government” either!

    Oh, I attended a good public school. My parents paid for it. I could have attended better private schools but, taxes, you know?

    I drive on public roads too. My gas taxes, registration, etc. pay for that. Those taxes also pay for Amtrak, hiking trails in the Berkshires and more shit that I never use. Would I prefer privately owned and operated turnpikes? Hell yes! Local roads probably have to be maintained by local government though.

  37. joe,

    Dance for me Monkey Boy, dance!

  38. I’m puzzled by what the kids who read this stuff are supposed to do? Harangue their parents about driving?

    Seriously, the kids of an age appropriate for this book are too young to understand global warming and are just going to be scared, while anyone old enough to even understand the problem in a general, kid-type sense is too old for the book’s art and dialog. (Also, I have serious problems with political indoctrination before a kid is about nine, anyway.) From my own experience, the best way to make a kid understand and respect nature is to actually spend time outdoors, followed at some distance by Animal Planet and National Geographic. As for being stewards of the environment, I want them to be responsible because it costs me lots more money when they waste power and water. If cute pictures of polar bear cubs make them turn off the lights, great.

  39. So my two choices are:

    1. Swing from the trees
    2. Learn to swim

    Man, I better get to the gym. I can’t see myself doing either for long in the state I am in.

  40. Ah, yes, this is the sort of well-intentioned, humorless yet simultaneously completely ridiculous sort of indoctrination attempt one would expect of the crew who think we should “go back and live the life of the noble savage in the trees.”

    Then there are those who think evolving legs and crawling out of the sea was a bad idea…

    I wonder if what this longing is realy all about. Is the desire to to crawl back into the warm, primordial, pre-rational ooze a Freudian desire to return to the womb? (Apologies to Douglas Adams.)

  41. Anti-environmentalists are such hysterics.

    It’s not hysteria, it is humor, sometimes poorly executed.

    I am a rational environmentalist. Nuclear power is so obviously rational and superior to all alternatives you would think that the green movement would be falling all over themselves to get nuke plants built worldwide. If you want to see hysteria try to build one in the U.S. It won’t be coming from the “anti-environmentalists.”

    On a related topic, Ducks Unlimited, and other pro-hunting groups have done more to preserve Americas natural heritage than all the hippies and greenpeacers combined.

  42. Good point! And I don’t want any Reasonoid who has attended public school or driven on the highway to complain about “big government” either!

    So Dan T, your only reply to the charge of hypocrisy is that libertarians are hypocrites, too?

    Expressing the opinion that using a public service is immoral and then using it would be hypocritical, sure. Merely expressing the opinion that funding a public service is not good policy and then using that public service, however, is not.

    The supposed immorality of “waste” is inevitably an endless enigma because one man’s waste is another man’s convenience.

  43. But you see, J sub D, it isn’t “hippies and greenpeacers” who are saying that global warming is real, and that we must change our practices to avoid it. It is the near-totality of environmental scientists, working through the scientific method and peer review, vs. the hysterical anti-greens.

    That the greenies are on the side of reality and science when it comes to global warming doesn’t discredit the scientists one whit.

  44. That the greenies are on the side of reality and science when it comes to global warming doesn’t discredit the scientists one whit.

    joe, Let me reiterate for those who are having problems with readingg comprehension.

    Nuclear power is so obviously rational and superior to all alternatives you would think that the green movement would be falling all over themselves to get nuke plants built worldwide. If you want to see hysteria try to build one in the U.S. It won’t be coming from the “anti-environmentalists.”

    Any questions?

  45. Joe, let’s be fair now, the greenies who seem to look forward to an environmental apocalypse with the same bated breath and wide-eyed hope that Evangelicals reserve for The Rapture are hardly on the side of science.

  46. joe,

    That the greenies are on the side of reality and science when it comes to global warming doesn’t discredit the scientists one whit.

    Did you click your heels together when you said that in hopes of making it be true?

  47. If only we would all live like the Rwandans and Bangladeshis…

    Don’t forget the Tanzanians, who, thanks to the foresight of progressive thinkers like Julius Nyerere, enjoy the lowest standard of living on earth. Kudos, Dr. Nyerere; you are truly a friend of Mother Earth (and Bonnie Raitt thinks you’re really neat)…

  48. In actuality, this book really isn’t all that awful in comparison to the pseudo-environmental mainstream tripe that’s been directed at kids for 20-plus years now. Anyone watch any Saturday morning cartoons or “Rainforest” themed kids movies?

    It isn’t even particularly poorly done in my experience. The dialogue is a bit stilted and stale, but that could be attributed to scaling down the reading level. I even found the artwork to be somewhat decent.

  49. J sub D,

    I have a question:

    Why are you so eager to change the subject?

    mediageek,

    I’ll stipulate that there are hysterics on the environmentalist side, too. But, to repeat, they aren’t the only ones pushing an agenda to address global warming; virtually every relevant scientist are at the forefront here, and the greenies are simply allied with the science. It is the anti-greens, for their own financial and kulturkampf reasons, who are against it.

  50. Rimfax,

    No, but I did flip last months issue of MIT’s Technology Review (special issue titled “The Technologies We Need to Solve Global Warming Are Here Today”) onto my side-desk.

    Neener neener nee-ner.

    Jim Walsh,

    Tanzania is going to have a lot of luck improving its standard of living if their modernization depends on meeting their energy needs with increasingly scarce petroleum supplies that are increasing demand from the developed world.

    You want to condemn the developing world to energy scarcity and climatic catastrophe, fine, but don’t you dare try to cast yourself as my moral superior as you do so.

  51. Why are you so eager to change the subject?

    The subject being greenhouse gas emmisions? How much CO2 does a nuclear power plant emit?Since the greenies are so allied with the scientists on the global warming issue, why won’t they support nuclear power.

    Oh Yeah, never discount irrationality when discussing environmental policies.

  52. Am I the only one who read the headline as “Gore and the terrible, horrible…”?

  53. By Ted Turner’s powers, this kind of schlock indoc is mine!

    Go Planet!

  54. And killer bees… I Forgot killer bees. They were supposed to kill us all too.

    Besides, if things get too bad, maybe Russia and the US can nuke some areas of the globe that they don’t really care about, throw up a bunch of smoke and particulates and create the aforementioned nuclear winter. That would also give the enviornmentalists the added benefit of killing millions of humans who would no longer be competing with the wombats for resources. 😉

  55. Typical well-funded guilt-propaganda from the left. I’m sure the money trail doesn’t lead to certain connected sources.

  56. Joe:

    Huh?

  57. According to Wikipedia, Sedna is the Inuit Goddess of both the ocean and the underworld.

    One would think she’d be in favor of global warming, so as to increase both of her domains.

  58. A lot of the arguments against Dan T. and Joe here seem to be of the following variety:

    Some people who call themselves environmentalists say some crazy things.

    Therefore

    Anyone who agrees with any environmentalist about anything is crazy.

    Look, given the weight of scientific evidence available at this point, global warming is almost certainly real. We don’t know what its effects will be, but it seems prudent to take some steps to try and prevent it. Increasing our use of nuclear power is one important step, though that’s no reason to mock anybody suggesting any other steps.

    Can’t we stipulate that this is a stupid book without denigrating the very idea that we should cut back on our use of greenhouse gases?

  59. Anyone else creeped out by the phrase, “majority fact”? It’s as if facts were up to a vote or something.

  60. I agree with Brian24. There is just a little to much knee-jerking regarding this issue. Yeah, it’s a silly book, and some of the conclusions do go way over the top in order to make a political point, but anthropogenic global warming IS happening whether we like it or not and something has to be done. The science backs this up.

    {FYI, I was a GW denier myself once upon a time.)

    The way I see it, both sides are going to have to give on this issue. The antis are going to have to pull their heads out of the sand and realize that some sort of regulatory program are necessary, spend some money (yes, Government money) to find a way fix the problem, and stop sneering at alternative energy where it can be economically implemented. Meanwhile the greenies are going to have keep a leash on the those in their movement who conflate pollution with capitalism (non-capitalist countries pollute too), and stop opposing nuclear as a means of large scale power production.

    I know, it’s not a solution that will make the purists on the libertarian side happy, but free markets aren’t going to do anyone any good when the planet is too fucked up to make things livable. Besides, I imagine that there are opportunities for profit and job creation in environmental clean-up for those who have the brains and will to seek them.

  61. It is probably the case that we’ll never be able to sustain our standard of living or continue to grow our economy if we solve greenhouse gas emmissions by cutting our energy consumption. As our economic infrastructure is increasingly dependent on electricity rather than human labor-hours, our demand for energy is only going to grow (regardless of how efficient our machines get).

    Similarly, it is unlikely (to my mind) that we will soon find a form of energy that doesn’t produce a potentially harmful byproduct. It seems like this is just the nature of the sort of reactions that release energy, at least until the technology to effectively “skim” off cosmic forces exists (our clunky, inefficient photovoltaic cells are an example of this technology NOT really existing yet). The task for the present, then, is to find one where the harmful byproduct is something we can trap, something we can convert or something we can put to use. I don’t claim to be an expert on all things alternative fuel, but it seems to me as though nuclear power is the winner on all of these categories.

  62. …but it seems to me as though nuclear power is the winner on all of these categories.

    I agree, but try telling that to a public raised on bad science fiction with little in way in education on science fact.

  63. What exactly is a majority fact? *blink*

  64. “Rich countries use-and waste-an awful lot of energy. Huge cars. Too many cars instead of efficient trains and buses. Lights and machines that take more electricity than necessary. Heaters and air conditioners that run even when they’re not needed?.”

    What counts as a rich country? I believe Thailand is still considered a developing country, not a rich one yet, but have you ever tried to drive in Bangkok? Lordy, going 10 feet can take hours, depending on time of day. I’ve never seen so many cars. And it isn’t just the amount of cars or other vehicles on the road that is causing the pollution problems; many of those vehicles rely on older technologies, such as two-stroke engines, or are just old and run down; I’d never seen so much black smoke until I came to Thailand.

    And in the North of Thailand, air conditioners are used in the dead of winter, or at much cooler temperatures than needed.

    How about Laos, Cambodia, or any number of poorer countries? Whoever wrote this book has no idea of the kinds or amount of energy being used in these countries, the technologies employed. And this isn’t going to improve any time soon; people are driving two-struck motorcycles because they’re much cheaper than the newer technologies and they simply don’t feel they can afford the newer stuff.

  65. Edit, should be ‘two stroke’ motorcycles not ‘two struck’. But come to think of it, I kind of like the imagery the latter suggests…

  66. I note that the environmentalists who wrote this story have exactly no clue about what dog sledders must do after they and their team go through the ice into freezing water. It isn’t “run home crying.”

    Maybe the experts should take a basic hunter education class and learn something accurate about wilderness survival.

  67. I’m puzzled by what the kids who read this stuff are supposed to do? Harangue their parents about driving?

    Yeah, my daughter will rue the day she comes home to scold us about what she learned at school. I wonder what the first thing we start cutting back will be? Ah the lessons to be learned. [daughter’s name], you want to get to soccer practice or visit your friends? I see a bus ride in your future…

  68. The supposed immorality of “waste” is inevitably an endless enigma because one man’s waste is another man’s convenience.

    Maybe, but when your “convenience” causes a reduction in nonrenewable resources that other people have a right to use too and pollutes the environment in which other people live in too then it’s not just affecting you.

    I’m not asking that you go live in a cave, just turn your furnace/AC down if you’re going to be gone all day and turn off the lights if you’re going to be out of the room more than a few minutes. And for fuck’s sake please don’t buy cars with engines bigger than you need!

  69. I’m puzzled by what the kids who read this stuff are supposed to do? Harangue their parents about driving?

    More than likely, yes. Since in the 90s the kids of people I know were coming home from school after the anti-alcohol classes and lecturing their parents about the demon rum. I knew one woman who couldn’t have a glass of wine with dinner because her six-year-old son was convinced that one drink would kill her and there was nothing she could say to convince him otherwise.

  70. Akira,

    “Meanwhile the greenies are going to have keep a leash on the those in their movement who conflate pollution with capitalism (non-capitalist countries pollute too),”

    This is the thinking behind Sustainable Development, which (along with the John Kerry/Theresa Heinz relationship) was the most important thing to come out of the Rio conference. It’s a recognition that development is necessary, and that curtaling development is neither an effective nor an acceptable response to environmental problems. Rather, development needs to be steered in a way that we aren’t destroyong our long-term success in exchange for immediate short-term benefits.

    “…and stop opposing nuclear as a means of large scale power production.” I’ve seen a number of environmental leaders making this argument. I think nuclear power generation could be made politically acceptable, but only as part of a grand bargain that involves phasing out existing fossil fuel generation and encouraging conservation, not just using nuclear to meeting future growth.

    The specter of dirty hippies who want everyone to wear loincloths is a strawman thrown out by those with a commitment to the status quo, who don’t want the admit that there is a larger environmental community willing to meet them halfway.

  71. You know, the fattening of Americans and the Global Warming crisis are related.

    Maybe we’re just getting ready to return to the sea. It ain’t fat, it’s boyant, insulating blubber baby. It’s all webbed toes for the next generation. The sea, the sea it calls me!

  72. It’s hard to be more cynical than writing a children’s book for adults. That’s why Animal Farm was so great.

  73. The specter of dirty hippies

    would be a great name for a punk rock collection of Grateful Dead covers.

  74. It is currently snowing at my house, providing a data sample which I construe to be proof positive that global warming is a hoax.

    I plan to download and print 1000 pdf copies of this excretion- er, book- and burn them for heat.

  75. I’m puzzled by what the kids who read this stuff are supposed to do?

    Get really bored before it gets to the point because it’s full of words like “maddeningly”?

  76. Sheesh, people. The dialogue is horrible and clunky, but this isn’t exactly an Earth First tract.

  77. suppose this is a natural occurence

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