Picket Signs for Sustainabullity

I learned the other day that there’s an organization out there which is selling the message that you, yes you, can stop global warming by shouting a number at everybody.

No, not 42. Even if that number is supposed to be The Answer. No, Iverson, sit down, I’m not talking about you. Why don’t you go to practice?

Where was I? Oh. Yeah. Shouting a number at everybody, and what does that have to do with global warming? Well, at present, scientists put the concentration of carbon dioxide gas in Earth’s atmosphere at 387 parts per million, give or take a part or two. Whatever happened to Brylcreem, anyway?

That 387 ppm is higher than Earth’s carbon dioxide concentration’s ever been before, so far as we can tell, and it’s way high enough to stick us all in the greenhouse under the hot sun and turn up the furnace. To get us out of the greenhouse, the carbon dioxide level’s got to come down. Somebody somewhere said that it’s got to come down to this round number in the middle of the 300s. And that’s the number which the organization wishes to have you stick onto picket signs, with which you’ll walk about until the politicians drop from exhaustion.

No, sorry, I’m not going to give you the number. Or the website for this organization. If you wish to do the heavy lifting, be my guest. I’d rather not assist you.

Why not? Because the organization and its founder(s) remind me of … wait for it … Billy Graham.

Yes. That Billy Graham. The one who made a whole lot of money (some critics suggest an $80 million personal fortune) on Crusades. Crusades that played to packed houses in football gridiron stadiums and made thousands of rapturous friends of Jesus at a time.

Who turned into thousands of rampaging enemies of Jesus six months later, when they discovered that, rapture or no rapture, they still couldn’t pay the rent, and now they had tithes they couldn’t pay either.

What does this have to do with global warming?

Let’s assume that a whole lot of people buy into this global warming organization’s call to action and become rapturous converts to the cause of saving the planet, George. Thousands of people at a time pack arenas, shouting and carrying picket signs with the organization’s number on them. What will happen?

1. The organization’s founder will become rich and famous.

2. The organization will fail to convince world leaders to enact policies that effectively reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, leaving thousands of people with broken picket signs and broken finances from paying dues to keep the organization’s founder rich and famous.

Or (and this is worse):

3. The organization will succeed in its mission, and will goad world leaders into making the kinds of decisions that will lead to significant reductions in atmospheric carbon dioxide. The crowd goes wild.

Until the crowd discovers just how much, in personal liberty and living standards, their success is going to cost them. Information that you’re not going to get just by chanting a number.

Awhile back, the Dudes related the story of the global trash pile. How each person, on average, generates twice as much trash today as 50 years ago, but, in order for the globe to generate no more trash than in 1960, each person has to reduce/reuse/recycle to one fourth of what had been going into the waste stream before this paragraph hit the blogosphere. Because there’s now twice as many people on Earth as there were in 1960.

One-fourth of the driving, one-fourth of the electricity consumption, one-fourth of the food consumption …

And it would not be enough. For atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were already rising at unacceptable rates in 1960. So the world’s leaders, goaded by picket signs into trying to meet the goal of reducing global atmospheric carbon dioxide, will have to try to cut personal living standards even more.

Inside of six months, the same people who were carrying carbon dioxide numbers on picket signs and screaming “Save Our Planet!” will be back carrying starvation budget numbers on picket signs and screaming “Give Us Back Our Lives!!”

The environmental awareness movement would be taken down by the wrath of its own erstwhile converts. Planetary ecological collapse might actually happen sooner than it would have otherwise, thanks to all this.

But the organization’s founder would still be rich and famous.

Doesn’t sound like a recipe for saving the planet to me.

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2009 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.


  1. Can’t we just pass a law limiting carbon to no more than, um, 300 ppm. They do it with gang members. I think 4 to a car or something.

  2. While I understand your argument, I will offer the note that my husband became a believer in Christ at a Billy Graham crusade in Berlin when he was 15 years old…God’s word never returns void.

    As for the carbon stuff…yeah, I agree we gotta do better. Ranting just adds more CO2, I think. Ranting carrying signs would probably add more…


    • I also have a friend who is a minister and he became a believer at a Billy Graham Crusade. He said that he went home to a family that did not believe and had no support to offer — and none was left behind by the Crusade. He was bitter, anguished and confused — and luckily came across a kid in school who attended a great church and invited my friend along.

      My friend will tell you that for every successful Billy Graham convert, there are at least two left lost and confused and hurting. However, I understand that in later years, when the disconnect became evident, the Billy Graham Crusades began working with clergy in the areas he spoke so that the new converts would have a Christian community to access.

    • Mom, Quilly’s experience is also my own. I recall heated debates in churches I attended over whether to welcome a Graham Crusade, because local church communities had experienced net losses post-Crusade. The number of parishioners declined (after the initial surge), and the amount of pastoral care required by those who remained increased.

      The point, however, is not specific to the Graham ministries. Any time action is taken on a complex matter on the basis of raw emotional responses rather than reason, especially when those emotional responses are orchestrated en masse, trouble awaits. By any objective measure based on sheer numbers of people transformed by a message, the greatest evangelist in history was an Austrian ex-corporal name of Adolf. And most of us recall what happened to both him and his cause.

      Now if we could get the reasonable to actually do something …

      The best lack all conviction, while the worst
      Are full of passionate intensity.
      – William Butler Yeats, “The Second Coming”

  3. We moved out to the country for simple living, and as far as carbon footprints go, ours is relatively very small. We don’t work outside the home, we raise our own food, have our own well, put the babies in cotton diapers, wear only second-hand clothes, and we compost, refurbish, burn, or give away everything we can to keep from contributing to the landfills.

    On the rare occasions we can socialise, people tell us how wonderful our back-to-earth life is and how much they want to do it. What they don’t know is that it’s hard work, it gets depressing, and it sucks. Just IMHO.

    But it had made me sick, living in the city and seeing the amazing levels of consumption–I didn’t want to be part of that. I especially didn’t want to raise children to think that was the norm, when it’s possible that being forced to live with less is in their future.

    • Susan, I think you’re among the few who “get it.” One major problem is that there are literally billions of folk on this planet who do what you do, not by choice but by necessity, whose sustaining dream is to break free of that necessity (see CHINA), and who consider the “green” movement to be a crime by wealthy intellectuals against humanity – i.e., their humanity. Those people have one hell of a lot of votes, not to mention profit potential.

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