Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Glenn Beck Likes It Hot

Radio/TV shouting head Glenn Beck has apparently taken a break from hunting illegal immigrants and giving wedgies to Mooooslims so he can make fun of the Democrats' efforts to have a "green" convention. The Democrats apparently bought 70 million tons' worth of carbon offsets (a scam which I could rant about a lot if I wanted to - suffice it to say that carbon offsets and renewable energy credits are waaaaay too cheap to actually provide a financial incentive for wind/solar power producers to increase capacity by the amount you're theoretically offsetting - okay rant over). Beck, who bears a disturbing resemblance to my cousin Steve, wants his listeners to use up as much carbon as they can in order to offset the offsets.

It's a funny stunt, and I recognize the humor value in it. It kinda made me chuckle a little bit. But on a serious note, does Beck really think that conservation is such a risible idea? I don't care what you think about global warming - I'm not sure how conserving resources and using less oil could possibly be a bad thing. And I'm not sure what is accomplished by encouraging people to use up more oil and throw away more crap. (Lay aside the fact that if Beck wants to generate 70M tons of carbon, he'll be more than offsetting the offsets, for the reason I cited earlier.) Satire usually has a point it's trying to make. Beck's clearly being satirical - but to what end? Is he trying to tell us conservation is bad? If he's trying to tell us that conservation's not as important as Democrats make it out to be, that's fine, but he's not making his point well. Really, he just comes off less like a clever satirist and more like a spiteful schoolyard bully. Which is par for the course for Beck, really.


Jacob said...

Damn, he beat me to it! I've been half-assedly working on a parody site based on a similar idea, waiting for the right time to launch it. Would have been prime to do so when Gore won the Nobel, but I didn't have it ready then.

I can't speak for Beck, but my own idea was to parody not the offsets themselves (which I think are a fine idea), but the smugness of elite environmentalists. You know, the wealthy activists who want to implement carbon cuts that will make life significantly more expensive for ordinary people, but simply buy offsets instead of making sacrifices of their own lifestyle.

Jeff said...

Yeah, I think that's significantly different from what Beck's doing though. The DNC's greening efforts are all about leading by example, showing off conservation-friendly ways of holding a giant party, etc. I guess I'm not sensing the smugness here - they actually seem to be making an honest-to-God effort.

Ben said...

Honestly Jacob, I see the "smugness" attack on environmentalists (and the "hypocrisy" attack on folks like Al Gore) to be little more than a smoke screen. A distraction. An attempt to undermine actual efforts to improve the environment and head off global warming not by actually criticizing the effectiveness of these efforts, but by smearing the messengers.

It's unhelpful. In fact, it could be harmful, because Americans are cynical and trivia-obsessed enough to believe that if Gore or other environmentalists are pompous asses (and I grant you many of them probably are), then they aren't worth listening to. And thus the real damage of pollution and climate change goes ignored amidst the trivia.

Jacob said...

I see your point, but one of the problems with the way we're approaching climate change is the lack of attention given to cost-benefit analysis and the feasibility of making significant cuts with current technology. Cutting carbon too much will be very costly, especially for developing countries. And for what? From what I understand, a rather tiny reduction in warming. I think satire's a legitimate way of calling attention to this, and part of that is mocking the wealthy advocates of carbon cuts that won't much feel the pinch of cutting back.

Ben said...

Satire's as legitimate as any other form of expression. In a conversation among three former Slant writers, I think we can take that as a given.

But I seriously doubt that the intricacies of your argument are well communicated through the usual "ha! ha! environmentalists are pompous asses. Let's piss them off!"-style of satire that is prevalent in conservative and libertarian circles. You're a smart guy and an able satirist, though, so I suppose I could give you the benefit of the doubt that your satire would be better than the usual crap.

I'm reminded of that website you used to write for: A Better Earth, or something like that. At first I was excited to see it, thinking it would have creative, market-based solutions for today's environmental woes. Now I admit I only checked it a few times, but all I basically found on it was criticism of any and all actions taken on behalf of the environment. I'm not going to get into whether those criticisms were valid, but it did seem your peeps were peddling nothing more than despair: "Anything you do to fix the problem will only make it worse."

Green Topaz said...

Why pay for carbon offsets when you can get them free?