Saturday, November 3, 2007

What Would We Do Without George F. Will?

Previously published on Ink Slinger Chronicles on October 16, 2007

As a former Lit major and sometime writer, I read a lot. I read books mostly, but also newspapers and magazine articles – especially those that I can read online, or that others send to me via e-mail. My husband is a great clipping service sending me links to articles he thinks might interest me. This is how I started reading George Will’s columns.

I knew of George Will before that. I was devoted to “This Week with David Brinkley”. This was a show I considered one of the last truly civil news programs on television. I use civil in the sense of “adhering to the norms of polite social intercourse; not deficient in common courtesy”. Brinkley was always in charge of the discussion and made sure that all voices were heard. This is so unlike the current style of such programs, which seems to encourage one pundit to out-shout the other guests on the program. Apparently, the current thinking is that the loudest and rudest pundit wins. The “This Week” program went downhill in this regard under the helm of Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts and is only now approaching something I can stand to watch under the guidance of George Stephanopoulos. But I digress.

George Will restores my faith in the thinking man (or woman). He is smart and well read, articulate, and fearless. Reading his articles, or listening to him on television I often think, “I wish I could convince everyone I know to listen to this guy.” He just makes sense. It often seems to me that he is pointing out the obvious, but listening to the rest of the media – even those who sit next to him at the roundtable – it is clear that the facts and conclusions he offers up are not obvious to everyone.

Here is yet another article that I read this morning. An Inconvenient Price begs the question of what we should be doing about global warming, if anything. My poor husband has been listening to me rant in a far less articulate manner along similar lines.

It is clear to me that it is foolhardy to put too much faith in man’s ability to control the environment. Can we make a problem marginally worse? Sure. At least we can do so on a local level as happens when someone dumps enough bad chemicals into a river that provides the drinking water for a large city downstream.

Can this kind of environmental impact be stopped? Again, sure. But if you really believe that man can control the environment, take a look at Bill Bryson’s book “A Short History of Nearly Everything”. Read Chapter 15 about Yellowstone National Park.

It seems that Yellowstone is a super volcano. Not some geological relic only of interest to professors at small western universities, but an active volcano with the potential to exert a force thousands of times more powerful than the eruption at Mount St. Helens. And we are about 30,000 years overdue for the next eruption.

When it happens, the ash alone could be enough to halt the production of food in all states west of the Mississippi. The rate of species extinction caused by such an event just makes the current climate change debate sound silly. The last super volcano eruption happened seventy four thousand years ago and brought our race to the brink of extinction. Never mind the polar bear.So what would we do without a voice of reason like George F. Will? I guess that for most folks we know the answer. We would have devoted yesterday’s writing time to “Blog Action Day” and written many possibly silly articles about the environment and our efforts to control it.

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