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Humans are using up too much sun

By Alan Caruba
web posted February 4, 2002

"The energy of the sun, captured by plants and passed on to animals, powers everything in our world---dolphins leaping out of the ocean, geese moving across the sky, people stirring their morning oatmeal."

So says Elizabeth Sawin. Her article, published in Grist Magazine, was entitled "There Goes the Sun: humans are gobbling up too much of the sun's energy."

Now, if this strikes you as too stupid to deserve comment, you're right. On the other hand, I will comment on it because it reflects what lots and lots and lots of people believe. These people have passed through our elementary and secondary school systems since the 1960s and are thoroughly indoctrinated to believe we are using too much of the sun's energy.

Come on people, go easy on it. There's only five billion more years left of the sun
Come on people, go easy on it. There's only five billion more years left of the sun

They believe, as does Ms. Sawin, "There is only so much energy on Earth, and all the interconnected, complicated, essential parts of the living system cannot survive without a share of it." Do you think we are running out of the Sun's energy? Do you think there's only just so much energy to be had that we have to completely alter all human activity to insure there's enough for the geese and the dolphins?

Let me tell you a little bit about the Sun. It is a ball of hot gases and is 865,000 miles in diameter. Its mass makes up more than 99.9 percent of the solar system. This is necessary to insure that its gravitational attraction is great enough to hold the entire system together. It is a star of "average" temperature, about 15,000,000 degrees Celsius in its interior and about 6000 degrees Celsius at the surface. Its energy, radiating through space, is the only significant source of heat and light for the solar system. Here's where it gets worrisome. Scientists estimate that there's only some five billion years of energy left.

Oddly, despite its enormous generation of heat, there are whole parts of the Earth covered in ice. These places are very cold and home to polar bears and penguins. No sensible person wants to live in these places because nothing grows there. Once ice covered a much larger portion of the Earth and, until it melted sufficiently-thanks to the sun-human beings didn't even exist. Their ancestors reputedly lived in trees or ran around on all fours eating Lord knows what.

I tell you this because it well may be that, having passed through our educational system, you too haven't a clue about the sun, the earth, and all that dwells thereon.

Back to Ms. Sawin. The reason she "knows" that humans are using up too much of the sun's energy is that "humans co-opt 32 percent of the total solar energy captured by land plants, according to a study in the Dec. 2l issue of Science. Ecologists know this because they can measure the plant biomass created each year, something called the Net Primary Production, or the NPP, and estimate how much of it is diverted away from the rest of life by human activities."

Follow me closely now because you will learn why virtually everything any environmentalist or ecologist tells you is the biggest pack of lies you have heard since your husband told you you're not getting fat or your wife told you she doesn't care you're going bald.

First of all, the article she cites appeared in Science, a magazine that, like Scientific American, has been seriously infected by the environmental agenda to the point that much of what it offers as proof of anything requires heavy duty, critical examination and deconstruction. The notion that the Net Primary Production index or whatever they call it can accurately measure plant biomass is ludicrous. Can you imagine anyone being able to determine with certainty the use of solar energy by all the grasses, plants and forests of the earth? No, of course, you can't.

This is a typical environmental propaganda device, much like the computer models cited to prove global warming is happening. It sounds scientific. It looks scientific. It is a load of crap.

However, the Elizabeth Sawin's of the world will continue to worry that "the solar energy flowing through a cornfield won't find its way to some of the specialized birds and insects that populate a prairie, because those prairie creatures don't have the faintest idea what to do with corn stalks or corn earworms."

If this strikes you as idiotic, go to the front of the class, put a gold star beside your name, and return to your seat satisfied in the knowledge that you are not as big an idiot as Ms. Sawin. Then go home and bake some cornbread muffins. Hmmmmm, good!

Alan Caruba is a frequent contributor. The founder of The National Anxiety Center, he writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on its Internet site at www.anxietycenter.com. © Alan Caruba, 2002

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