…which probably explains why I’ve felt like crap lately.Â I’ve been spending too much time in airplanes instead of blogging (yeah, like that’s what I’d most likely be doing were I not in airplanes!Â Have you seen this weather???).Â Anyway, blogging, like creative writing, is supposed to be good for you:
Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not.
Scientists now hope to explore the neurological underpinnings at play, especially considering the explosion of blogs. According to Alice Flaherty, a neuroscientist at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, the placebo theory of suffering is one window through which to view blogging. As social creatures, humans have a range of pain-related behaviors, such as complaining, which acts as a â€œplacebo for getting satisfied,â€ Flaherty says. Blogging about stressful experiences might work similarly.
Have I mentioned I’ve spent A LOT OF TIME IN AIRPLANES LATELY???
There…I feel a little better already.Â But wait, have I not been mucking up the environment and contributing to global warming with all this traveling?Â I am starting to feel guilty, ashamed, sinful.Â Freeman Dyson can explain that.Â In reviewing a couple of new books on global warming, he notes:
All the books that I have seen about the science and economics of global warming, including the two books under review, miss the main point. The main point is religious rather than scientific. There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible. The ethics of environmentalism are being taught to children in kindergartens, schools, and colleges all over the world.
I must’ve got religion, ’cause I feel convicted.Â In fact, we should all feel convicted.Â Dyson continues:
Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion. And the ethics of environmentalism are fundamentally sound. Scientists and economists can agree with Buddhist monks and Christian activists that ruthless destruction of natural habitats is evil and careful preservation of birds and butterflies is good. The worldwide community of environmentalistsâ€”most of whom are not scientistsâ€”holds the moral high ground, and is guiding human societies toward a hopeful future. Environmentalism, as a religion of hope and respect for nature, is here to stay. This is a religion that we can all share, whether or not we believe that global warming is harmful.
Yet isn’t that what Czech President Vaclav Klaus, famed global warming denier,Â has being going on about lately?Â He doesn’t think this is a religion we can or ought to share.Â He complains in a recent book:
The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy, and prosperity at the end of the 20th and at the beginning of the 21st century is no longer socialism. It is, instead, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism.
Klaus sees no hope at all in the religion of environmentalism.Â He’s worried about his country’s economy.Â So are the leaders of India, China, and Brazil, to name just three who are unlikely to get the new-time religion.Â Money talks; piety walks.
But to go back to Dyson:Â he concludes by suggesting that while the morality of environmentalism is good and righteous, it does not have to be the case that global warming deniers are automatically consigned to the coal-fired flames of hell.Â You can still be a conservationist while being agnostic about global warming.Â And are there not other equally important moral challenges that confront us?
Unfortunately, some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith the belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet. That is one reason why the arguments about global warming have become bitter and passionate. Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment. The skeptics now have the difficult task of convincing the public that the opposite is true. Many of the skeptics are passionate environmentalists. They are horrified to see the obsession with global warming distracting public attention from what they see as more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet, including problems of nuclear weaponry, environmental degradation, and social injustice.
I think the John McCain approach to global warming is fair enough:Â “but what if it is true?”Â Okay, so let’s take some steps to clean up our act.Â But it seems to me thatÂ too many people seem to pick this issue to get most passionate about, I think, because it is so “easy.”Â Not easy to solve but easy to be passionate about.Â Apparently you can be passionate about global warming all the way along your commute to work each morning, all alone in your car.Â I mean, you don’t have to ride the trolley or, God forbid, walk.Â Certainly you wouldn’t be required to sell your house and buy a condo in a high-rise across the street from your office.Â You wouldn’t have to quit your travel-demanding job or stop going to international conferences because of the pollution it generates–perhaps you could just buy carbon offset credits.Â You wouldn’t have to give up t.v. or the internet; you could just buy “Al Gore lightbulbs.”Â You know what I mean…nobody wants to get crazy about it or anything.Â And let those other countries endanger their economic well-being.Â We’re already taken care of.Â But by all means, let’s end global warming now.
On the other hand,Â if instead of the environment you were passionate about, say, hunger, homelessness, or the intense struggles in some of our inner-city schools, well then you’d have tostep outside your front door and actually do something that might be risky, that would get you out of your comfort zone, that might have you looking into the eyes of a hungry, homeless person with a first and last name.Â Â They might have aÂ knife, and who know the last time they’ve bathed.Â Scares the daylights out of me!Â Way too hard.
So I’m allowing myself to enteratain a certain level of global warming guilt.Â In atonement, I’m working on the environment.Â I’ve got my Â “Al Gore lightbulbs” (except in my reading lamp, because you can’t see a thing with those spirally things).Â I walked to work today (how about you?)Â I’m going to cancel an upcoming trip (have I MENTIONED HOW MUCH FRICKIN’ TIME I’M SPENDING IN AIRPLANES?!).Â I turn the lights off when I leave the office, even to go to the copier (which I’m going to try to use less of).Â I’m doing my part.