Saturday, July 27, 2019

University Fellow Equates Air Travel With Random Gun Violence

                Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist and fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, launched a preposterous and profane Twitter attack on Jason Rabinowitz recently, over the latter’s decision to fly to Madrid for no critically important reason. Rabinowitz, who hosts a podcast about airline travel, had found inexpensive round-trip tickets to Madrid-- from New York’s JFK International Airport—and was unafraid to use them. He apparently noted on his podcast that he was only making the trip because of the relatively low price of the tickets. This did not sit well with Holthaus (which in German translates into “brings the house”), who brought the house down on top of Rabinowitz, saying: “We are in a climate emergency. What the f**k are you thinking, you selfish, entitled asshole? People are literally dying because of this kind of shit.” He said “unnecessary” air travel should be illegal and cited “unexamined privilege” for creating the “biggest existential threat we’ve ever faced as a species.” Yes. Quite.
    According to, Holthaus added: “This kind of behavior is the same as taking a gun and just firing blindly into the air towards a crowd just because you think it’s fun to shoot a gun. You don’t care who you’re hurting. You just care about yourself.”
                In fact, hopping on an airplane is in no way like “taking a gun and just firing blindly into the air towards a crowd.” When you step onto a plane, none of the people around you will be harmed or killed. Attempting to make that analogy is akin to saying, “mowing your lawn is the same as randomly lobbing tactical nuclear missiles into neighboring territories just for your personal amusement.” Or that “eating beef is the same as murder. You don’t care who you’re hurting. You just care about yourself.”
    And, what are the odds that Holthaus is untroubled by abortion?
                Rabinowitz did not respond to Holthaus’s tweets. Holthaus later apologized, saying: “I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. I shouldn’t have used that word to describe a person and I apologize for it and will work on doing better.” However, he could not help adding that it’s the system as a whole that needs to change, and savaged civic leaders and the airline industry for their role in the “outrageous” and “permanent” destruction of the biosphere on “the only planet in the known universe that can harbor life.”
                So, you’re saying we are unique, Mr. Holthaus? Possibly even derived from our Creator? I thought scientists believed life must be common around the universe? A garden-variety, non-miraculous result of a simple scientific numbers game, no?
                The “biggest existential threat we’ve ever faced as a species” does indeed loom over us today. It isn’t global warming, however. It is our rejection of natural law and refusal to believe in anything greater than ourselves.

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