Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's amazing what doesn't get noticed

I was astonished to read today that Russia has been suffering from a historically unprecedented heat wave since mid-June. Melting asphalt has been blamed for traffic accidents, people are being urged to take siestas to avoid the mid-day heat, and wells are drying up.

The heat has combined with the country's severe alcohol problem to produce an epidemic of accidental drowning.

Vadim Seryogin, a department head at Russia's Emergencies Ministry, told reporters Wednesday that 49 people, including two children, had drowned in the last day. More than 1,200 total have drowned, 223 of them between July 5 and July 12.

"The majority of those drowned were drunk," Seryogin said. "The children died because adults simply did not look after them."

I haven't read the book "Merchants of Doubt," by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, but this review by John Atcheson gives us the gist. The basic impetus behind the pseudo-scientific disinformation campaigns about tobacco, the (misnamed) ozone "hole," acid rain, and global climate change has been the same. Free market fundamentalist ideologues cannot concede that regulation is necessary to protect humanity from the ravages of unrestrained capitalism. Given that the mythical "free market," by stipulation, produces the best outcomes when government doesn't interfere, the conclusion that burning fossil fuel causes climate change must be wrong.

Can you spot the logical flaw here?

No comments: