A curious demand for nonscientific compliance with political agendas
By: Marion DS Dreyfus
This time of year, if you have a pulse and a mailbox, you’re likely getting stuffed with end-of-year (read: fund-raising clamor) calendars.
Most such glossy hang-arounds feature gorgeous landscapes, beyond-adorable photogenic animals and their whimsical young, or festive baked goodies, knick-knackery and the like. All in spectroscopic rainbow sumptuousness.
By some postal wormhole quirk, though I have not to date been a contributor nor a particular advocate one way or the other, I received a Union of Concerned Scientists 2022 Calendar.
And not only did it veer from the expected aviary or omnivorous gallimaufry of owls or pangolins, but each month was a full-page cartoon in the style that we’ve grown accustomed to from poring over the weekly funnies in the sometimes-quixotic pages of the New Yorker and other venues of vexation or venality, depending on your point of view.
My perspective on the calendar, as on the Union itself, was at best vaguely uninformed. I assumed an overall positioning of scientific objectivity, neutrality on controversial issues of the moment, because…well, the word “scientists” clued me in as to what to expect.
What soon gave me pause, and reason to look up their sketchy website, was the adjectival “concerned.” There’s the rub, as Hamlet ruminated soliloquizingly.
Each succeeding page of the unrolling monthly in ink and colored pencil or flair pen struck an acute alarm-bell.
The issues were all, I found, doggedly one-sided. And that side, unalleviated by a “but on the other hand” countervailing opinion or take.
And so I ambulated through, growing more upset by the minute, as the “scientist” section of this ‘union’ was not subtly overtaken by the “concerned” figure of speech that informed every one of the 12 pages of coming annus-possibly horribilis. As Maggie Thatcher, UK former Prime Minister might have opined.
Example tramples example as you flip the leaves.
There’s no room for alternative takes on, for instance, “climate change.” Believe it, not all scientists go with this particular piratical construct, a scheme that aims, frankly, to strip wealth from the haves to fund, as former President Clinton once stated, “$250 billion to take the temperature down one degree in one town in Germany- – for one hour.”
Every cartoon, in other words, has a progressive axe to grind and plunge into the heart of the unwary happening upon the calendar.
And even when a cartoon designating a month is vanilla-flavored, such as January’s, which shows people staring at a canvas of scumbled multidirectional symbols all topsy-turvy, tabbed, the male purveyor says, “Must’ve been the inspiration for drawing the congressional districts…”a snotty footnote chides us to “protect communities who [sic] are dealing with health and safety challenges,” so we need “a transparent, science-based process for re-districting.” Ensuring their point of view. Equitable their word of the year.
Or March, where the ‘cartoon’ is of the vacant outline of the word “vote” filled in with a game-like confounding maze of directions and perplexities ending inevitably with “Game over” and “You lose.” Followed by the note that “[…] And we need to fix our democracy so those solutions become more achievable,” as “many communities have been effectively disenfranchised through laws and policies designed to suppress their votes.” We remind these benighted not-really scientists: More people of more minorities voted in the past election than ever voted before. (Thanks to Democrats, more voted more times than ever before, too.)
April’s comic blat features two men on a raft made of a placard reading “Climate Change is Fake News” afloat on a suburb flooded to the second story of their houses. The comment balloon reads “I must admit, your sign comes in handy.”
Here the footnote scolds fossil fuel companies for not acknowledging the effects of their products: [“…they] have knowingly deceived the public about climate science and policy. Help hold them accountable for their actions.”
This is the bell they toll throughout, endorsing the notion that all scientists agree on this theory of so-called climate change, and of course, the evils of corporations that make their fossil fuels available. We would remind these ‘concerned scientists’ that the take on anthropogenic climatological vicissitude is far from unanimous. But disclaimers and appropriate opposition opinions and stats are absent entirely from mainstream media, as they are from most discussions of the topic. Or this calendar plumping for their pet advocacy favorites.
May mocks those who pooh-poohed the wheel (the Neanderthal crouches to declare he prefers walking); a dandy leans over an electric lamp to declare he likes candles better. And a cowboy scowls at a new train by refusing the give up his horse. Note here says that “Transportation is now the largest source of US global warming emission.” We’re warned to go cleaner by “dramatically reducing” our use of oil within “the next few decades.”
This is buttressed by July’s huge dinosaur looking befuddled and overfed, unable to enter a door reading The Future. The big green dino doofus is labeled, of course, “fossil fuels.”
August has a suited businessman on a hotel bed, phone pressed to ear. His words: “No, you dismantle your nuclear arsenal first.” Clearly running a march on couples who can’t hang up on each other as they make their good-byes. Here, the UCS offers “sensible, science-based policies to reduce risk of accidental nuclear war” and to “slow the arms races among the nine nuclear- armed countries.”
Surprised the fond concerned scientists don’t remonstrate against President Biden as old Joe manoeuvres to build up Iran in any which way he can, not excluding any nefarious master programs to continue refining uranium to the end-goal of a usable bomb—not for peaceful purposes, as Iran has energy to spare, and the mullahcracy has sworn in ringing tones to destroy Israel, loud and often.
And on it goes, dooming the reader with looming images of desiccated land and displaced populations from the ravages of nuclear weaponry. October.
Not to forget Pres. Obama’s big thought: Rising oceans. November’s strip of an elderly couple on beach chairs as the tide is up to their calves, debris swirls in the waters next to their ankles, and the cartoon newspaper held by the bifocaled male, headlined: “NEWS: Ocean levels rising; Ice Caps Melting.” Footnote warns that ice sheets and glaciers melting from warming make the oceans rise, which lift “can disrupt and damage coastal communities and infrastructure in virtually every sea-bordering country in the world.”
Bringing us to December ’22, where the black, white and green comic depicts three Chernobyl-like atomic reactors chugging schmutz into the air, and two backpackers, seeing the smudge sky, remarking, “I kind of regret objecting so strongly to the wind farm they originally planned.”
No comment on the fact that wind power is least efficient, most costly, and least dependable, everywhere it is ventured. And that nuclear power, used by France and Germany, is both cleaner, cheaper and more reliable than solar or wind.
Here. Their curdling-milk note strays into suppositions unsupported by science thus far: “The ability to store energy [we don’t yet have such an ability] and use it when most needed helps reduce demand generated by [sitting down?] dirty, inefficient fossil fuel power plants.” The Union is supposedly working on ‘deploying energy storage” in ways that “most benefit communities harmed by powerplant pollution…”—no word on cost, materials, time to fully develop this storage capacity, or the undeniable reliance of their electric whatchamacallits and charging stations on fossil fuels to get their electric power.
Selling their racket every month to unsuspecting customers just turning the pages, buying the bridge they’re selling without valid argument, statistics or positions by reputable real scientists. Every month, another Woke meme that’s not scientific, that trangresses the bounds of neutral and correctly skeptical science. Hardly accurate for them to call themselves ‘concerned’ “scientists” if truth is what they’re after.