The CATO ad is what got me thinking. Maybe the real reason I didn’t sign is because I knew that I might be wrong on global warming.
And if I was wrong, that meant I wasn’t right. If I wasn’t right, then I could be wrong—about a lot of things.
Luckily Gavin Schmidt and I are both based in Manhattan, so I was able to meet him over beers to express my concern.
“Gav,” I said, “Can I call you Gav?”
“No,” he said.
“Gav, I’m beginning to have doubts. Maybe all those doomsday scenarios Jim posits are real.” ‘Jim’ being James Hansen, Scientist, of course.
“Might be,” he agreed.
“And if they’re real, then that is bad news”
“The worst,” he said.
“What strikes me most is your, and Jim’s, sincerity. Your models aren’t making skillful predictions, yet you still believe in them. That kind of unshakable faith impresses me.”
He nodded. “We are firm in our convictions.”
“And I’m not,” I admitted. “At least, not anymore. My doubts about the coming catastrophe are crumbling in the face of such strong belief by so many…” My emotions were getting the best of me.
Gav reached out his hand, tenderly, and placed it over mine. “It’s OK,” he said.
“The constant skepticism and critical thinking I’ve been indulging in are wearying.” I took a sip of beer. “Truth is, I’m tired.”
Gav’s face took on that serene look that fathers get when they see in the distance their prodigal son walking through the field, finally coming home.
But as I gazed into my mug and began to realize, with horror, that even as we sat—with me about to switch allegiances—that we were exacerbating global warming.
“Bubbles!” I shouted, just as Gav was quaffing. “Carbon dioxide bubbles! In the beer!”
Gav spit out his mouthful and lifted his glass and held it to the light. Realization came to him. He put the beer down, hesitated, then stood up and backed away from the bar.
I heard him whisper, “Not that. Anything but that…”
I did a quick calculation: every pint added another one-times-ten-to-the-minus-thirty-two-point-eight-degrees Centigrade to the global average temperature. The logic was undeniable. To honestly embrace climate activism meant that I had to give up beer.
“Gav…,” I said.
He held up his hand. He knew. We stood silent for a moment. He nodded and began to walk out.
As he was leaving, there was only one thing I could say. “Bartender. Another Weihenstaphaner Korbinian Dunkel, please.”