Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Whole Lotta Stupid

There's a whole lotta stupid floating around out there. Life is short, so I'm only going to deal with two cases today.

First, there's the idea that a fur coat will not only insulate you against cold, but works equally well to insulate you against the heat. Insulation is insulation, just like in your attic, right? So maybe you don't have to pity long-furred dogs out in the hot sun all day: they're just fine.


If you really believe that, put on your fur (real or fake) coat next 90-plus degree day and go sit in the sun for a few hours. Let's see how long it takes before heat stroke sets in. Heck, I'll even come over and time you. (Note I didn't say I'd call an ambulance. If you're really that stupid....) That's why you actually are out there - if at all - in shorts and tank tops and flip flops. Lack of fur isn't your problem on hot days.

So what is?

Everybody who propounds this bit of nonsense is forgetting one key word: metabolism! We are mammals. We produce heat as we burn calories. That's what the word calorie means. It's a unit to measure heat produced, not fat set aside. If heat doesn't have a chance to escape, we will die! Simple as that. Fur keeps our self-produced heat in, a great thing for cold weather. Not so much in summer.

Right now everybody's opining on the BP oil spill and how to fix it. The most often repeated bit of stupidity is to just blow it up! Boom Baby Boom!

This seems like sound advice. It happens all the time after well explosions on dry land! It puts out the fire by sucking up all the oxygen, turning your flaming gusher into a simple gusher, where now people and equipment can approach and cap it off.

So what's wrong with this picture? First, there's no fire to put out, the whole point of using explosives. Second, what's down there on the sea floor is about a thousand feet of mud. Blowing that up is just going to kick a whole lot of mud into the water along with the whole lot of oil that's pouring into the water, and that's just not going to do a thing but raise a cloud. Well, unless you are one of those folks who thing if you make it so you can't see the problem any more means it isn't there. That works when you're one or two, but only in your head. We need grown-up solutions here.

Let's say we did get the explosive down to the bedrock that's covering the pool of oil and blew that up. How exactly did you imagine that would help? Sure, some pieces might go down instead of up or sideways. We're not closing an entrance to a coal mine here. Making a whole bunch of tiny holes along the top of the area is not going to keep the oil in place. The stuff is pressurized (part of how it's made, heat and pressure). It's also lighter than water, wants to float. It's full of methane, a gas that's also lighter than water, really really wants to float, wants to float so bad it came up the pipe and caused the explosion in the first place that sank the rig. Lots of tiny holes are just what this stuff wants to escape its underground underwater prison. And if you've just blown up its covering, there's now nothing to secure any kind of topper in that would seal off its escape, not to mention the hundreds you'd now need.

So stuff your boom-baby-boom ideas with your drill-baby-drill ideas and start being useful: think of and start implementing ways to begin using less oil in your daily lives and using more renewable enery like wind and sun. A windmill falling over does not destroy thousands of miles of ecosystem for decades or longer.

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