If you thought Lalu Prasad Yadav was funny, you should meet John Shimkus (new chair of the Subcommittee on Environment and Economy) of the US. Lalu pales…

Shimkus is on record for dismissing the existence of global warming by citing biblical scripture that says God would not allow the earth to be destroyed. Specifically: “And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” The earth will end only when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.

There is overwhelming scientific consensus that in pursuit of relentless growth man is indeed destroying earth. Trouble is that it will become painfully obvious only when it way beyond repair. David Suzuki, an award-winning science broadcaster and environmental activist presents a simple but hard-hitting analogy to drive home the point.

“I give you a test tube full of food for bacteria- that’s an analogy with the planet- and I put one bacterial cell in and it is us. It’s going to go into exponential growth and divide every minute. So, at time zero, at the beginning, there is one bacterium. One minute, there are two. Two minutes, four. Three minutes, eight. Four minutes, 16. That’s exponential growth.

And at 60 minutes, the test tube is completely packed with bacteria, and there’s no food left. When is the test tube only half full? And the answer of course, is at 59 minutes. So, at 58 minutes it’s 25 percent full, 57 minutes, 12 and a half percent full. At 55 minutes of the 60-minute cycle, it’s three percent full. So, if at 55 minutes, one of the bacteria looks around and says, ‘Hey guys, I’ve been thinking, we’ve got a population problem.’ The other bacteria would say, ‘Jack, what the hell have you been drinking, man? 97 percent of the test tube is empty, and we’ve been around for 55 minutes!’ And, they’d be five minutes away from filling it.

So, the bacteria are no smarter than humans. At 59 minutes they go, ‘Oh my god! Jack was right! What the hell are we going to do, we’ve got one minute left! Well, don’t give any money to those economists, but why don’t you give it to those scientists?’ And, by God, somehow those bacterial scientists in less than a minute, they invent three tests tubes full of food for bacteria. Now, that would be like us discovering three more planet Earths that we could start using immediately. So, they’re saved, right, they’ve quadrupled the amount of food in space. So what happens? Well, at 60 minutes, the first test tube is full. At 61 minutes, the second is full, and at 62 minutes, all four are full. By quadrupling the amount of food in space, you buy two extra minutes. And, how do you add any more air, water, soil or biodiversity to the biosphere. You can’t, it’s fixed! And, every scientist I’ve talked to agrees with me. We’re already past the 59th minute.”

I am sure Shimkus and other climate-change deniers will one day, not so far off in the future, wake up.

Download and listen to the interview of David Suzuki

First published on January 5, 2011

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