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DOPOTO REPORTS: WISHING IS EASY, SCIENCE IS HARD

The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious (DOPOTO) has been observing with interest the various Green Campaigns, those scientific, and less-than-scientific efforts to reduce mankind’s carbon footprint, cut down on unhealthy pollution, reverse global warming or all of the above. The efforts to exploit non-combustible sources of energy like wind, solar and tidal power have thus far been fairly ineffectual, producing only a fraction of the vast amounts of energy required to power human society, while the “dirty” sources of energy continue to perform spectacularly. This is not to say this will always be the case, but for the present time it is the obvious (our specialty) truth.

Some concerned Green campaigners focus their efforts on making human beings feel guilty about living their lives in the only system they know, an odd approach at best and one not likely to solve the very real energy-related problems faced by humanity. Others champion low-energy light bulbs, which have indeed reduced energy consumption but also contain enough mercury in each of these bulbs to poison several gallons of water, thus creating another potential ecological disaster to go with the many other potential ecological disasters we face. As in so many other endeavors, science giveth and science taketh away.

Still others berate their fellow humans for eating meat, the substance proven to be most responsible for the evolution of our large brains, which DOPOTO researchers have indicated might explain the odd behavior of many of these “grazing” advocates. Further studies show that meat-eating animals have eyes in front of their heads, and possess far greater intelligence than the vegetarian animals with eyes at the side of their heads, the better to watch out for predators. Human beings fall into the former category; intelligent predators with eyes mounted front and center to keep our eyes on the prize, a juicy steak. This is no judgement on anyone’s preferred eating habits, merely a reiteration of the blatantly obvious, which is pretty much all that this Department does.

As far as finding a replacement for carbon-based petroleum, coal and natural gas, there is already a proven and readily available power source of even greater potential; nuclear power. Nuclear power, however, scares the bejabbers out of most of mankind, filling our heads with images of Hiroshima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. Even though there are a great many safe and efficient nuclear power plants in use worldwide, there is always the problem of what to do with the radioactive waste products of this process, a nuclear slag that will be highly dangerous for thousands of years, and no one wants glow-in-the-dark children, even if that proves to be a handy alternative to the mercury-filled light bulbs in their bedside night lights. Hardly seems a desirable trade-off to most parents.

So scientists continue their study, experimentation and field-testing of alternative energy sources, while activists remind us to conserve our limited energy resources. While corn was once thought to be the answer, growing our own gasoline, most experts say this will be just as dirty and expensive as fossil fuel, to say nothing of depriving our booming population of thousands of square miles of productive farmland. Renewable and sustainable as this might be, there are already 36,000 starvation deaths daily on earth, and another 10 to 20,000 deaths from impure water-related disease that will only be exacerbated by our continuing pollution. Few activists factor in the deaths of 20 million people a year (whose lives are every bit as precious to them as anyone else’s, perhaps even more so given the fact that they see them slipping away) in their Green Solutions.

While it is not for The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious to suggest how anything should be run or to influence how any person conducts their life,  we here at DOPOTO respectfully suggest that the answers to these problems will most likely come from the scientific community, utilizing the very power sources they seek to replace. Towards that end perhaps the American government (the same organization that put a man on the moon 40 years ago) invests in scientific education and research on a far larger scale than it already does. A coordinated effort can be commissioned similar to the Apollo Project that not only put a man on the moon, but launched the Information Age with the byproducts of that effort.

Researchers here at DOPOTO have determined yet another obvious fact: that wishing for a greener, cleaner earth is a whole lot easier than the science required to make it so. Our studies indicate that human beings will not in any great numbers volunteer to scale back on their consumption of the only available energy sources and surrender even an inch of the progress that humanity has painstakingly won through the widespread use of carbon-based fuels. Our lengthened life spans, our more robust health, our lowered infant mortality rates and our enhanced access to information and communication are the modern realities of life in the 21st century.

We have found that people are more than willing to use these historically unprecedented advantages to seek solutions, but are not willing to surrender to fear and turn out the lights, kill the engines and unplug the computers. Most humans feel it is better to use the scientific and technological advantages petroleum has given us to seek its replacement than to abandon it before we find an alternative and just hope for the best. DOPOTO has discovered that humans love a challenge, but see no wisdom in discarding the tools they have at hand that will enable them to meet that challenge.

This is a report from The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious.

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