Every once in a while, there is a perfect storm. A moment in time when all the elements necessary to define and structure flawlessness of form and function come together. These moments are rare. It takes the magic of coincidence. The alchemy of circumstance, combined with a kind of purity that only occasionally emerges. Such was the case in 1959 when Edward D. Wood Jr. wrote and directed the most astonishing film ever made. It is without a doubt my favorite movie. I’ve watched it many times and have never found it tiring or hackneyed.There is something insightful to be drawn from each viewing. In the opening dialogue we see its power:
Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown… the mysterious. The unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you, the full story of what happened on that fateful day. We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony, of the miserable souls, who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places. My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty. Let us reward the innocent. My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts of grave robbers from outer space?
Yes. All the writing in the movie is this bad. The acting, the directing, the cinematography, and the story itself are all so perfectly awful that one wonders at how so many elements of such dreadful creativity can exist in a single place. So bad that Mystery Science Theater 3000 never touched it. What could they add? What snide comment could point out the absurdity of that which defines the absurd? It is a masterpiece of rare anti-genius. Plan 9 from Outer Space: there has never been anything like it.
Its wisdom continues to teach:
This is Eros, a space soldier from a planet of your galaxy. I fully realize our language differences, however I also know you finally have perfected the dictorobitary, or as you on Earth put it, the language computer. So you can now understand that which I speak. Since the beginning of your time, we have been far beyond your planet. It has taken you centuries to even grasp what we developed eons of your years ago. Do you still believe it impossible we exist? You didn’t actually think you were the only inhabited planet in the universe? How can any race be so stupid? Permit me to set your mind at ease. We do not want to conquer your planet. Only save it. We could have destroyed it long ago, if that had been our aim. Our principal purpose is friendly. I admit, we have had to take certain means which you might refer to as criminal, but that is because of your big guns which have destroyed some of our representatives. If you persist in denying us our landings, then we must only accept that you do not want us on friendly terms. We then have no alternative but to destroy you before you destroy us. With your ancient, juvenile minds, you have developed explosives too fast for your minds to conceive what you were doing. You are on the verge of destroying the entire universe. We are part of that universe.
Ah, the destruction of the universe. We humans. Ya’ gotta love us. So let’s go back to global warming, which some people believe will destroy, not our universe, but a piece of it that will make our life more difficult in this little corner. So what should we do about it? Here I’m going to pull the same stunt as I did on my Climate Change Blog when I refused to talk about the data. Here, my friends, I’m going to refuse and talk about specific solutions. I recognize that there are deep complexities in the topic that stir together a strange mixture of ecology, economics, sociology, and a host of other things. So as to specifics on solutions, I’m still exploring. However, I believe something needs to be done. And that is what I want to make a plea for. Because I believe that whether you are convinced of CC or not, there is warrant enough for action. We need to be actively trying to do the things we know need doing and looking for earnestly for solutions to the myriad problems that now confound and confuse us and may become exacerbated in years to come.
This is because the question of whether we should act at this point bears not only on the probabilities, but the dire consequences if we are wrong. Consider this argument of a lawyer to a jury.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, we will show that when all the evidence is in, that the unfortunate toddler only had a 0.1 % chance of going over the cliff, and therefore the child’s father was justified in not getting out of the lawn chair to stop him.”
How many of you carry catastrophic accident insurance even though it is likely that you will never use it?
When consequences are weighed with probabilities, the warrant for action goes far beyond just what is dictated by the probabilities.
I think the evidence for human caused CC is good. But even if you don’t, even if you are going to side against science and keep visiting the non-peer reviewed literature, and listening to the voices who trace their intellectual genealogy through big oil, think to yourself about what the consequences are if you are wrong. If you will admit to any probability of possibility (that might just define a new statistical field!) of CC being human caused, then we should act. The consequences of being wrong are frightening. I’m not talking about deep doomsdayers who worry about the Earth–becoming-Venus scenarios, I’m talking about increased storms, droughts, expanded range of tropical diseases, habitat destruction, political turmoil—the light, highly probable stuff, the stuff we are seeing the leading edge of right now. Stuff that our children and their children could pay dearly for, because we wanted more evidence before convincing ourselves that action was warranted. “Oh sure kids, you face political instability (think Katrina) and environmental disasters, but you don’t know how much of a hassle it was not having a SUV. And besides we weren’t sure it was caused by humans, it was only a bunch of scientists saying it, and YOU KNOW they’ll say anything.”
The second reason for action is I believe that the LDS people have a higher responsibility to take care of the earth because our doctrines are so deep and significant on the matter. We’ve seen the Earth weep in our scriptures. We are reminded every time we go to the temple that we have a stewardship over this planet. And like Hugh Nibley I have a hard time interpreting these scriptures as an injunction to get rich and to use up the earth’s resources only for secular, economic, and recreational ends (although there was a player in the Garden who did argue for these things). While I don’t take the story of Noah literally, I do take it seriously. The Lord cares for his creatures. Notice in the scriptures after the flood, the Lord makes and convent with Noah AND with his creatures. All the inhabitants of the earth stand in a covenant relationship with God. When Christ returns, for some reason I don’t see him touring the malls and walking through a WalMart parking lots saying, “I like what you’ve done with the place.”
When you garden, you take actions on probability all the time. You might treat for insects that are not there yet, you provide soil nutrients that you recognize the plants may need. Part of our responsibilities, laid out so clearly in Eden, are that we here to tend and care for this place. If there is a chance that we are causing the warming, I think we have warrant and responsibility to act. Even if it proves unnecessary, it’s the right thing to do. We owe it to our children and theirs. We need to turn our hearts to our children, or the Earth might be smitten with a curse.
Tanna: Mad? Is it mad that you destroy other people to save yourselves? You have done this. Is it mad that one country must destroy another to save themselves? You have also done this. How then is it mad that one planet must destroy another that threatens the very existence-
Eros: That’s enough!! In my land, women are for advancing the race, not for fighting man’s battles. Life is not so expansive on my planet. We don’t cling to it like you do. Our entire aim is for the development of our planet.