Sunday, August 06, 2006

The New Puritanism

William Saletan has an article posted at Slate discussing how air conditioning is creating a false consciousness about global warming -- thus leading us not to do enough to counteract it. There is also a strong sense of shame and blame at us for being so doughy and fragile and hedonistic as to need air conditioning.

Yesterday, CNN also had some loud fellow on with his own commentary show where he essentially said that people's wimpiness at using air conditioning is causing global destruction.

From the Slate article:

Based on government data, Stan Cox, a scientist at the Land Institute, calculates that air-conditioning the average U.S. home requires 3,400 pounds of carbon-dioxide production per year.

That's about equivalent to the CO2 output of 1/6th of a typical sedan. Instead of going on about manliness, they could purchase a small-car allotment Terrapass, and make up for not only their own carbon production, but also a fair bit more carbon production.

I take it that eventually, assuming everyone jumped on the boat, Terrapass might not work, or might need to find some new technology for reducing carbon presence in the atmosphere -- but I'd take that problem any day over our current ones.

In the meantime, this strikes me as the pot-smoking, dirty-dancing, free love generation -- the same people that made fun of religious puritans in movies like Harper Valley PTA and Footloose -- now growing up and realising that there's something morally wrong about pleasure, so it's not enough to fix the problem, but one must also suffer while doing so.


M. Scott Eiland said...

Yep. For some, nothing is virtuous unless it involves the equivalent of bleeding through the pores and hacking up a lung or two. I won't attribute that particular irritation to any one political or social viewpoint--noting its ubiquitous presence at the boundaries of human society is basically what inspired me to write down what I call "Eiland's Theory of Compensatory Misery":

As human society gradually solves the problems of basic survival and reduces the amount of other miseries rooted in the reality of the human condition, the fringe elements of that society feel an increasingly strong compulsion to become obsessively angry about ever more trivial causes to recapture the sense that life is a painful struggle.

The reason this is a real problem--rather than simply an occasion to point and laugh at the deeply stupid--is that it can distract and detract from dealing with real problems by convincing people that all advocates for a particular issue are as idiotic as the fringe types. In this case, the more that loons scream about air conditioners being evil and selfish, the less the unconvinced on global warming will be willing to be convinced that the allies of said loons might have a point.

Alan Kellogg said...

The young virulently reject guilt, the mature virulently embrace it.