If you're wondering who's largely to blame for the alleged heating up of the climate you need look no further than Jane Fonda.
That's what "Freakanomics" columnists Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt suggest in Sunday's New York Times Magazine.
"If you were asked to name the biggest global warming villains of the past 30 years, here's one name that probably wouldn't spring to mind: Jane Fonda. But should it?" the authors ask.
According to Editor & Publisher, the two cite Fonda's anti-nuclear thriller "The China Syndrome," which opened just 12 days before the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, as helping stoke "a widespread panic." Fonda, E&P notes became a high-profile anti-nuke activist in an already-strong movement that resulted in the nuclear industry halting plans for expansion.
"And so," the authors continue, "instead of becoming a nation with clean and cheap nuclear energy, as once seemed inevitable, the United States kept building power plants that burned coal and other fossil fuels. Today such plants account for 40 percent of the country's energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions. Anyone hunting for a global-warming villain can't help blaming those power plants -- and can't help wondering too about the unintended consequences of Jane Fonda."
Despite Fonda's anti-nuke campaign, the columnists say that the "big news" is that with global warming fears mounting, "nuclear power may be making a comeback in the United States," with plans for two dozen reactors on the drawing boards.
"Will they get built?" E&P asks, explaining that "It may all depend on what kind of thrillers Hollywood has in the pipeline."
Neither E&P nor the Times columnists bothered to note that all those CO2 emissions contribute a barely measurable part of the greenhouse gasses present in the atmosphere. According to Reid Bryson, founding chairman of the University of Wisconsin Department of Meteorology, called by the British Institute of Geographers as the most frequently cited climatologist in the world: "There’s been warming over the past 150 years, and even though it’s less than one degree Celsius, something had to cause it. The usual suspect is the 'greenhouse effect,' various atmospheric gases trapping solar energy, preventing it being reflected back into space.
"Eighty percent of the heat radiated back from the surface is absorbed in the first 30 feet by water vapor ...
"And how much is absorbed by carbon dioxide? Eight hundredths of one percent. One one-thousandth as important as water vapor. You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide."
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