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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 01/ 3/2011

Drop-in clinic

By Tom Toles

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***

Final shark jump

Looking back in time just a little ways reveals that the biggest thing ever to have Jumped the Shark is the United States.

What was the exact moment? I would say 1998, when General Motors, in the euphoria of SUV mania, bought the brand and started selling the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or Hummer, for personal transportation purposes. This is the moment when the country gave in to its cultural self-definition of the Ultimate Consumer Society, gave up every pretense of thoughtful, measured behavior, and capitulated completely to excess. We at last knelt down before the gilded Behemoth. The behemoth of transport, the behemoth of the McMansion, the behemoth Shopping Mall, the behemoth rates of stock returns for some, behemoth levels of personal debt for the rest.

If you liked this particular moment of U.S. history, well, good for you. But it's over, and it won't be coming back. There was simply no place left for it to go down this road, because it didn't really fit on the road to begin with. Don't ask me what comes next for the United States, but whatever it is, it won't be that. --Tom Toles

***

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By Tom Toles  | January 3, 2011; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Congress, Health care  
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Comments

@dalyplanet - You presented what you now acknowledge as the observed record of the LAST century as the implied projection for the NEXT century. That is deceptive, at the very least.

You will note that I did not present any factual information as based on IPCC reports. Deniers of climate change have managed to politicize the NAME of that international body to cast doubt on its activities, so it's much more compelling to go to the underlying research or documentation without the carefully manipulated guilt by association.

You allude to, "...other qualified scientists also predict a more conservative estimate." You don't specify which scientists or what qualifications they might have, but later in your comment you recommend three names, presumably as valid sources for your viewpoint.

Roy Spencer is a member of the ultra-conservative Heartland Institute which receives substantial funding from ExxonMobil. Dr Spencer is also a very vocal proponent of "intelligent design".

Roger Pielke is a prolific critic of the entire body of research supporting climate change, directing his attacks mostly at the scientists who conduct that research. His credentials provide him standing, but he is not regarded in the overall field as at all credible. He is a contrarian.

Richard Lindzen also has credentials, but is associated almost exclusively with hard-right organizations, again funded primarily by corporate interests including ExxonMobil.

You haven't presented factual information that disproves the enormous body of research and supporting data that has established that the climate is changing significantly, and that industrial activity has been a primary contributor to that. Picking at minor elements of the overall body of information and attempting to claim that any degree of variability in complex modeling projections somehow invalidates the whole is simply setting up straw man arguments. They are logically fallacious and factually unsupported.

Posted by: fbrewer1 | January 4, 2011 1:17 AM | Report abuse

fbrewer1

I realized that I had not defined the temp increase I stated is the observed record of the past century and is not too controversial. The predicted temp increase you quote comes from the fourth assessment summery and has many detractors in the scientific community. The actual report lists this rise as only one of the possible temp situations and has no quantification given. There are more conservative predictions in the FAR and other qualified scientists also predict a more conservative estimate.

Combustion process CO2 emissions are very small compared to natural emissions. The band of estimated emissions (lowest estimated total emissions to highest) is more than three times that of all combustion process CO2. Absorption of CO2 is not completely understood today. While the quote states as the complete and unequivocal facts there is much discussion regarding CO2 absorption.

The IPCC is a political organization or at least convened to prove theory's of a political organization. (UN) The current plans to trade carbon credits or tax carbon are almost universally rejected by all scientists (including those most on board with AGM) as a way to curb CO2 emissions. This type of nonsense will only make some people money. Google Chicago Climate Exchange Board to see some interesting names.

There are many scientists that believe the IPCC is playing fast and loose with the science to further an agenda and it is not some vague conspiracy theory.

check out
Roy W Spencer
Roger Pielke
Richard Lindzen

These scientists all agree that CO2 will have some effect. Also the 2007 IPCC states that CO2 may cause a 3 deg C rise with a double of CO2 so some of the figures quoted via the media are inflammatory.

Posted by: dalyplanet | January 3, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

This sort of consumerism seems routed in "American exceptionalism". This is the type of thinking that usually gets us into trouble. I don't really understand why people are drawn to big pickup trucks or SUVs--most never use the space so this makes no sense..

All my cars have been small cars. They were and are safe, economic, enjoyable to drive. My next--maybe last good, new car--will probably be a performance car. I've paid my dues. And others will do what they do, and it's a safe bet that they will blame Obama for high gas prices ;-) . Never accept personal responsibility for the mess you created.

Posted by: ptgrunner | January 3, 2011 5:26 PM | Report abuse

"I agree a LOT of idiots in the confines of cities bought the HUMMV but do we really want to regulate what type of vehicle a consumer buys? Who in government do we want to decide that?"

--

I want nobody in government to decide what you or I buy.

Why, however, must I be required to subsidize the bad habits of other people by helping to defend the cost of protecting the fuel imported to feed their habits? Why not amortize the costs of defending our "right" to import oil into a per-gallon tax on fuel and allow the market to decide what's best?

Posted by: jonroesler | January 3, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I agree a LOT of idiots in the confines of cities bought the HUMMV but do we really want to regulate what type of vehicle a consumer buys? Who in government do we want to decide that?

Posted by: pararanger22 | January 3, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I don't think that was suggested.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | January 3, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Last I knew, neither the H2 nor H3 was available as a "pickup" version, and not many farmers or ranchers have the $70K starting cost for an H1. But we all understand that, Toles isn't talking about actual "work" trucks.

And, before you even start about how the average homeowner "must" have a pickup in order to fill their home improvement needs, certain big-box store will rent you their flatbed truck for about $20 plus fuel for the first 75 minutes.

Girls know why boys buy big trucks. And the bigger the truck...

Posted by: jonroesler | January 3, 2011 4:35 PM | Report abuse

The Hummer is a nice focal point, but for the real shark jump I pick the dot com boom/bust that occurred around the same time. You can easily trace the real estate bubble and the current economic crisis back to the investment mania that developed during the dot com era. Of course, you could also make the argument that the overreactive wars that followed 9/11 (two simultaneous Vietnams) were also a shark jump of major proportions. In any case, when people look back on the American Empire, they will probably regard the years around the millennium as the point when the sun began to set in earnest. The American Century is officially over.

Posted by: EthelredtheUnready | January 3, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

@dalyplanet - You said, "The current agreed temp rise in 110 years is at most 1 degree Fahrenheit, not a lot." You didn't provide a source for that rather remarkable claim, nor did you indicate [b]who[/b] agreed on that temp rise.

"The average surface temperature of the Earth is likely to increase by 2 to 11.5°F (1.1-6.4°C) by the end of the 21st century, relative to 1980-1990, with a best estimate of 3.2 to 7.2°F (1.8-4.0°C) (see Figure 1). The average rate of warming over each inhabited continent is very likely to be at least twice as large as that experienced during the 20th century."
http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/futuretc.html

Your use of comparisons between natural and industrial CO2 emission is disingenuous and misleading.

"Human CO2 emissions upset the natural balance of the carbon cycle. Man-made CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by a third since the pre-industrial era, creating an artificial forcing of global temperatures which is warming the planet. While fossil-fuel derived CO2 is a very small component of the global carbon cycle, the extra CO2 is cumulative because the natural carbon exchange cannot absorb all the additional CO2."
http://www.skepticalscience.com/human-co2-smaller-than-natural-emissions.htm

Vague conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated claims that present distortions or misinformation are not open discussion. They are attempts to manipulate an issue to fit a preconceived viewpoint.

Posted by: fbrewer1 | January 3, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: jhnnywalkr:

Ah yes. The vast majority of those big gas-guzzling trucks I see on the roads are being used for these purposes, and not because some idiot just wants a big truck to get to and from the office.

------------------

I agree a LOT of idiots in the confines of cities bought the HUMMV but do we really want to regulate what type of vehicle a consumer buys? Who in government do we want to decide that?

Posted by: pararanger22 | January 3, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

@quiensabe Yeah, yeah, yeah, you got on my nerves. Congratulations. That means you won the argument. America!

Posted by: mjgf | January 3, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse


Thanks- Nailed it again, as usual.

Can't resist deviating. Your last paragraph, "...There was simply no place left for it to go down this road, because it didn't really fit on the road to begin with.", reminded me of an old radio "Breakfast Club" quote from "Sam's Almanac" --- in reference to Statements that merely elucidate the obvious but are stated as if profound..... viz...
"Half way down the road and back is just as far as all the way down the road"
Better than most of Ben Franklin's observations.

Posted by: lufrank1 | January 3, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The problem quiensabe is there are so many more city slickers now deciding whats best for rural folks - soon you will need a permit to live in the country.

Posted by: dalyplanet | January 3, 2011 2:39 PM | Report abuse


Well, pardners, I’ve touched a nerve, have I? Ya’ll are all ‘bout rite on your take, except horse rescuin’. We don’t rescue ‘em out here, we use’m up. That’s what they’re for. They’re not pets. I’ve hauled ‘em over 60 miles (on the same ranch) and ridden ‘em ‘till they’re spent; sometimes two or more. So you citi’slikers can quit gripin’. As for you citi’slikers, I’d rather be out here with them than you and I rather imagin’ you wouldn’t want to be out here with me either. It’s kind of scary!

Posted by: quiensabe | January 3, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

GM management were the morons that thought Hummer was a great idea. Big Government stepped in and saved their rears when they should have been punished for the foolishness. Those assets could be better managed by others.

Big Government CAUSED the explosion in SUVs by demanding better fuel economy and then EXEMPTING trucks, which all american SUVs are by definition. So if you wanted or needed a larger vehicle your only choice was to supersize. Plus these vehicles were cheap to build being based on old tech and made tons of money for auto makers. Another example of Big Government unintended consequences.

Posted by: dalyplanet | January 3, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

@quiensabe What are you talking about? 2-3 percent of the U.S. workforce is employed in agriculture, and you're babbling on and on as if horse-rescuing and cow-pulling was an everyday fact of life for the people of non-D.C. America.

I don't think Toles was really attacking the use of those vehicles for work purposes. I think he was distinctly attacking them because they were used by gluttons who didn't need them. All of the examples you give about why these vehicles don't include "getting to the investment banker's office" and "taking Parker to ballet," which is much, much closer to the average Hummer owner's day-to-day task list than the "saving herd from angry pack of wolves while hiding wife/children from Cossacks" world you seem to live in.

Oh, and "we could care less what you think of them" is implied in all of that—I'm from South Dakota, and that flippant attitude poisons the culture of small-town America. Until, of course, it's time to find a market or a subsidy for your rugged individualist shtick. I get it already: (pseudo) rural Americans don't give a good gall darn about what us city slickers think, dang nabbit. Now go rustle me up some supper, pardner.

Posted by: mjgf | January 3, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

But your rant against vehicles that can perform off road shows your limited scope and view of life in this country. Should you choose to leave your liberal perch and venture out to our land you would soon, if you are as intelligent as I think you are, discover you can’t cross a low water crossing in one of those little boxes flitting around the freeways in DC. Nor can you get to a sick cow over sand or rock. Since you are probably a Vegan, it may not concern you that to get you a steak, at times you must pull a trailer with a horse with a Ford F250 4x4 as far as you can and then get horseback. These behemoths prove indespensible and we could care less what you think of them.

Posted by: quiensabe | January 3, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Ah yes. The vast majority of those big gas-guzzling trucks I see on the roads are being used for these purposes, and not because some idiot just wants a big truck to get to and from the office.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | January 3, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

~~My New Year’s Resolution was to read your rants and chuckle, sometime, at your cartoon. And, not comment~

You too!!! That was my resolution!!
right now I am chuckling at "behemoth"...oh and this is NOT a comment...not really cuz I am not saying ANYTHING else on topic(s) at hand...

Posted by: bertzel | January 3, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Tommy boy, don't worry ......
Obama and his socialist/marxist elitist buds will see to it that we will have no excess resources for ANYTHING. In fact, we'll be lucky to have enough to pay for the skyrocketing electric bills and gasoline prices. But at least the planet will be cooler...... oh, wait.. IT ALREADY IS!!!!
Enjoy 2011 in that comfy little cartoon world you live in.

Posted by: Shrimper | January 3, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse


My New Year’s Resolution was to read your rants and chuckle, sometime, at your cartoon. And, not comment. You started out this year, however, provoking us. Methinks you do it to keep us coming back which increases your readership and your pay. That, of course, is alright…pay for honest work is commendable. And, you can believe in Climate Change if you want. But your rant against vehicles that can perform off road shows your limited scope and view of life in this country. Should you choose to leave your liberal perch and venture out to our land you would soon, if you are as intelligent as I think you are, discover you can’t cross a low water crossing in one of those little boxes flitting around the freeways in DC. Nor can you get to a sick cow over sand or rock. Since you are probably a Vegan, it may not concern you that to get you a steak, at times you must pull a trailer with a horse with a Ford F250 4x4 as far as you can and then get horseback. These behemoths prove indespensible and we could care less what you think of them.

Posted by: quiensabe | January 3, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Start right out banging that climate disaster drum this year. Having been studying this issue for some time myself a few questions come to mind.

Why are you and some others so on board with the doomsday scenario of earth on fire when there is high probability that only minor adaptions will be necessary. The current agreed temp rise in 110 years is at most 1 degree Fahrenheit, not a lot. Perhaps Earth will be better off a little warmer.

What source of energy do we have that is cleaner or more reliable than fossil fuels to power our energy needs. How do you get the world off carbon? How can you be so certain we need to be off carbon today as the solution for energy may manifest itself in another 100 years.

Who are the people that created the IPCC and what are the motives. This group has a clear agenda beyond saving the planet that is not openly discussed, and this agenda clouds the science of world weather prediction. You alarmists need to be more honest and transparent to gain credibility in this discussion. Science is based in skepticism and measured proof. Carbon Tax and carbon offsets and other schemes only add to the doubt as this type of solution does nothing to reduce energy use and CO2 output.

CO2 EMISSIONS :
1. Respiration Humans, Animals, Phytoplankton 43.5 - 52 Gt C/ year
2. Ocean Outgassing (Tropical Areas) 90 - 100 Gt C/year
3. Volcanoes, Soil degassing 0.5 - 2 Gt C/ year
4. Soil Bacteria, Decomposition 50 - 60 Gt C/ year
5. Forest cutting, Forest fires 0.6 - 2.6 Gt C/year
6. Anthropogenic emissions (2005) 7.5 - 7.5 Gt C/year
TOTAL 192 to 224 Gt C/ year

This chart gives some perspective to the total CO2 output every year and humans contribution. Wanting to discuss these issues openly does not mean that one is either a cynic or a fool. There are many scientists some with Nobel prizes having disagreement with the IPCC summery report at the very least.

Posted by: dalyplanet | January 3, 2011 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Although I agree with you Tom regarding the idea that the huge gas-guzzling hayday of American SUV consumerism is over, I try hard to never underestimate the creative ability of Americans to find and indulge in excess wherever it may be.

You see, we can do whatever we want. It's the American way. Consequences don't matter (corporations and big banks no this), for someone will always defend our right to destroy our environment in the name of personal freedom. It happens in the comments here every day. We can foul our bed all we want, and never have to worry about sleeping in it. Someone less fortunate will deal with the consequences. Not me. I'll ship my garbage to and locate my polluting factories in third world countries, or backwater places in the US where only voiceless minorities live and are "happy" to have a job. I'll defend insurance companies for their right to make gazillions of dollars...as long as those "other" sick people are the only ones that have to worry about it. I'll defend wars to protect the fossil fuels I love to guzzle, as long as no one I know has to die in them, and the civilians that get killed are all dark-skinned scary people anyway. I'll defend big oil companies and their right to drill and do whatever they want, as long as my job or my beach or my health aren't affected by it (never mind that my health IS affected by it...this I choose to ignore). And I'll vote for politicians that display the same kind of disregard and ignorance that I do, because I'm so tickled that finally there's someone in office who's "more like me".

Happy New Year!

Posted by: PrairieDog60 | January 3, 2011 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Well Tom you know the Liberal Politicians also forgot to tell everyone what type of things had been done to people in America to cause a variety of health problems. Then again I am one of those foolish truth seeking citizens that thinks there is a lot more to these conspiracies, which have finally started to be revealed by major network shows, than most people want to believe.

Posted by: JONAHandtheFISH | January 3, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Don't make fun of the hummer buyers and all other people who are victims of CCD (conspicuous consumption disease.)

They can't help it. They suffer from the dreaded MBTB virus. (More Bucks Than Brains)

Posted by: Valiantlytrying | January 3, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Don't make fun of the hummer buyers and all other people who are victums of conspicuous consumption disease.

They can't help it. They suffer from the dreaded MBTB illness. (More Bucks Than Brains)
It is wide spread and infecting more people every day.

Posted by: Valiantlytrying | January 3, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Love the sketch. It's almost as though it's just for your commenters.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | January 3, 2011 9:38 AM | Report abuse

This isn't about Al Gore billybeer6. This is more about you and me..and your neighbors!

Posted by: cmarston99 | January 3, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Excellent start to the New Year. Both the cartoon and the commentary are spot on.

Posted by: GeneTouchet | January 3, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Wise people use what they get to make what they need. Others just waste their resources.

The Hummer was the big burger of transportation. If a person needed a very safe vehicle and did not drive far, it could be ideal. If someone wants a burger to give them most of their calories in one meal - a burger is fine. It is not really what you eat, but how much that counts.

So it is the perfect metaphor. Drive a Hummer a hundred miles (or more) every day and it adds up. Eat five burgers a day and it shows.

It is all something that the Republicans should understand - they talk about individual responsibility every day. But if the system is to work every citizen needs to be educated to know how to behave and why the Hummer was only for short trips to be economical.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | January 3, 2011 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Tom,

Glad I bought my Hummer while I had a chance!

Posted by: HalflifeToolmaker | January 3, 2011 8:15 AM | Report abuse

What about Al Gore's massive 100ft house boat and Gore's excessive carbon foot print is that history?

Posted by: billybeer6 | January 3, 2011 6:26 AM | Report abuse

Fabulous News!! I just printed Coupons for free. You can print coupons before you shop at "Printapons" search online.

Posted by: cristielewis | January 3, 2011 3:43 AM | Report abuse

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