Global warming is one of those really strange, politically-charged topics. Politics is weird that way. Sometimes really obvious things, like rising global temperatures, become wedge issues between the political parties.
On one level, it makes sense. If the world is getting warmer and we're all doomed, fixing the problem could get expensive. After all, environmentally-sound behavior isn't necessarily cheap.
Take meat production, for example. In How To Save Jobs, I showed how meat production impacts our oil supply. I even forecast that within 10 years, China's cows -- alone -- will be consuming one seventh of the world's oil production.
But does that mean I'm going to cut back on steak? Heck no. Ain't nothing going to keep me from grillin' when I get a hankerin'. Nothing.
This behavior, of course, multiplies across every citizen, every company, and every country. It may be better for the environment to drive a "green" vehicle, but do you want to pay a $15,000 premium?
The same holds true for companies with big lobbying budgets. Whether it's the big grain companies (remember those cows?) or the big oil companies (remember BP?), companies with big budgets often know that while better environmental behavior might be good for the planet long-term, it's darned costly today.
The result is a partisan divide. The Democrats talk about cap-and-trade and the Republicans mock the Democrats. OK, fine, we all mock the Democrats, but only because they make it so easy.
Then you get to the whole scientist bit. Some people say the whole global warming thing should be determined by old-fashioned science. After all, scientists are concerned with facts, not politics.
Seriously? Just say the words "Linux", "Windows", and "Macintosh" in a room full of geeks and stand back. Real, honest back fur will start flying in about 10 nanoseconds.
Scientists are, of course, concerned with science, but we all know that there are factions in virtually every discipline. So, again, we have the politics.
But what if it's true? What if the world is experiencing wild temperature fluctuations due to our technological and industrial footprint? What if, oh, I don't know, a glacier the size of four Manhattans just calves off and falls into the ocean?
Then will we think there's global warming?
This week, an ice sheet measuring 100 square miles split off from Greenland's Petermann glacier. This is the single largest ice movement since 1962, which, coincidentally, is the year our lord and savior Stan Lee created both the Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man.
So, now, here we have an ice island four times the size of Manhattan, floating loose and heading towards open ocean. What should we do? What should we do?
One Democratic congress-critter, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, decided to skip the whole finding constructive answers thing and instead raised the dialog to the level of of a high school sophomore. His approach was to suggest that those who claim global warming doesn't exist should move to the island.
Way to be problem-solvey, Ed.
Is there global warming? Should it be a political hot potato?
Personally, I think the answer should be pretty simple. If ice islands the size of Edinburgh -- for us Americans, that's a city in Europe, and yes, some cities in Europe are bigger than Manhattan -- anyway, if an ice island the size of some stupid European city breaks loose, we probably should start paying attention.
100 square mile ice islands. Something ain't right. Politics shouldn't be the issue. Keeping our houses off of stilts should be the issue.