It must be a joke. The punchline is surely coming. Ha, ha! Hoarding tomato seeds! Bars on his basement windows! Hilarious! This guy really nails nuttiness. He’ll shame a few zealots, boy. But…wait a minute…I’m awfully close to the the end. When is this guy going to toss in the zinger, the gotcha!, the line which says it’s all a spoof?
It never came! He was serious!
Thus was my shock when I finished Mike Tidwell’s “A climate-change activist prepares for the worst” in the Washington Post.
Tidwell tells us that he has long cared for the environment, that he did his part. But caring wasn’t enough, it was an emotion disproportionate to his soul-searing commitment. One can imagine Tidwell asking himself, “What other emotional states besides caring are available to me, such that I can show my dedication to the environment? Satisfaction? Clearly not. Worry? Too tepid. Concern? Insufficient. How about paranoia?”
“That’s it!” he must have shouted to himself. For what other emotion best explains his buying “a new set of deadbolt locks on all my doors”, a (presumably gas powered) generator, and a (yes) “starter kit to raise tomatoes and lettuce behind barred basement windows.”
Pause and re-read that. Did you notice the bars on his basement windows? Now, either he has purchased mutant tomato seeds from the Little Shop of Horrors or he has frightened himself into believing that crazed climate deniers will lay siege to his electrically powered fortress and its stock of juicy vegetables.
I’m know what you’re thinking, but Tidwell denies being a nut. He claims that he has taken his drastic actions because “we’re running out of time.” He says, “The proof is everywhere.”
When I re-read Tidwell, I felt like the weary cop listening to yet another citizen reporting a UFO. In the movies, the citizen senses the cop’s skepticism and, with clasped hands, pleads, “Don’t you believe me?” The cop always says, “I believe that you believe it.” The “UFO” turns out to be the porch light glinting off the wings of a moth. The citizen, if he has not believed in his mistake too long, laughs shyly and melts away.
But if he has cherished his sighting, no amount of evidence will convince him of his error. He will instead strain every possible strand of evidence to prove his UFO real. It is only a matter of time before he begins attending MUFON conferences where discussants agree that the only possible explanation for the lack of tangible evidence is (of course) conspiracy. It is a pathetic thing to see.
Tidwell saw a storm instead of a UFO, but he is certain sure that that storm, which knocked his power out for a few hours and prematurely thawed his meat, was sent by them. The pathos is evident:
After the August storm, I made the financially painful decision to buy the Honda generator. My solar panels, by themselves, can’t power my home. I spent $1,000 on the generator, money that would have gone into my 13-year-old son’s college fund. I’ve expanded my definition of how best to plan for his future.
Would it do any good to tell Tidwell that if the apocalypse comes his gas-powered generator, after giving glow to a light bulb or two for a week, will be useless for lack of fuel? Could he be convinced that his meager store of sun-starved tomatoes (they don’t grow well in dark basements) will not be the envy of climate refugees?
I am glad Tidwell has taken up skeet shooting for the good of his “immediate loved ones” because we could always use more advocates for Second Amendment rights. But if I were his mailman, I’d steer clear of his porch whenever there is a heat wave.
In Other News
Fellow statistician Ted Davison has created the new blog Search for Impartiality in which readers will have an interest. He begins with some frightening but apt quotations from some of the usual suspects.