See the Monsters in Full Daylight

I’m a 30-something 6’6″ blonde-haired, blue-eyed white male who was frightened of the ramifications of Trump’s election. Not just concerned about his policies. Not simply worried about our international relationships. While I had, and retain, a considerable amount of concern over those things, we have a system in place that provides checks and balances. That’s all just politics. We’ve survived bad politicians. We’ll survive this one, though there might be some considerable damage to be undone when it’s all over.

I  was, and remain, terrified to my bones of what it would mean to the “vocal minority” of bigots who ate up every intolerant word he uttered if he should win. The majority of Trump’s voters are not gay-bashing, foreigner hating, misogynistic religious nutjobs. They’re mostly regular folks who either felt like no one was listening or believed Clinton to be a criminal. But, guess what? The fear from minority populations was not unfounded, and the defensive cries of “I’m not a racist! He was talking about illegal Mexicans!” or “He meant Muslim terrorists, not all Muslims!” don’t matter if you know that your candidate has attracted a following from white supremacy groups. “He wasn’t saying he supported them!” He saw them at his rallies. He drove between Confederate flags and signs painted with hateful words with a wave and a smile. And he didn’t condemn those people. He didn’t ever point to a “Grab her by the pussy” shirt and say that wasn’t what he stood for. The closest he got was a statement from his campaign manager regarding the official KKK endorsement a few days before the election.

And so all of the bigoted, misogynistic monsters of humanity have crawled out from under the rocks they’ve been hiding under to say some heinous shit they wouldn’t have dared a few days ago. Because they feel validated. Because even if the majority of the party they voted with didn’t yell along with them, they weren’t yelling at them to shut the fuck up, either. It was tacit approval, and now the monsters feel safe and justified in their hatred. Those who should feel the most threatened.

I’ve heard and read some of the most terrible things today. My wife is keeping a list of stories from friends. Amongst them, a parent was told by their child another kid at school had asked, “You ready to be a slave again, now that Trump is president?”

A woman paying for gas, “Your name’s Marquez, huh? You look white. I’ll remember you’re not when they start deporting.”

A white man married to an Hispanic woman, “My wife had somebody curse her out today and yell about Trump sending her home. How could this happen?”

The Republican candidate made a deal with the devil in refusing to disavow groups like the KKK, and judging by some of the margins of victory, that’s what won him the race. And I really don’t think he knows how to put that genie back in the bottle.

It’s small of me, I know, but I hope that those who didn’t look at who was standing to their right and left at those rallies can’t sleep at night for guilt, though I doubt most have even considered it. I won’t be able to while my black/Puerto Rican wife is out of the house without me.

Want to show some solidarity? Want to prove that you’re not complicit? Be ready to fight for the vulnerable. Rabidly and without reservation. Don’t stand quietly if you see someone yell racist shit at a stranger on the street. Don’t avert your eyes as a woman gets harassed. Don’t just chuckle awkwardly and change the subject when that homophobe you know starts talking about “fags”. Step up. Step in. Say something. Do something. Chase the monsters back under their rocks and make it absolutely clear that you don’t believe as they do. Don’t belittle anyone who marched in the street to protest the election results. At least, I thought as I saw it happening, some frightened gay teenager can see that not everyone in this country has turned their back on them. It doesn’t matter if the protesters were there for another reason, they were visibly standing up against a man who chose a running mate who has been widely publicized to support conversion therapy.

As long as there are people, there will be bigots. There’s nothing we can do about that. What we can do, and what we must do, is make sure they don’t take their hatred out on those vulnerable to it. Show them, and show yourself, that you’re — that we’re — better than the small-minded, the intolerant, and the hate that they believe in.

That’s Not How Men Talk

I’ve been quiet for a while. I felt compelled to say something regarding the  words of the presidential nominee carrying a Y chromosome. “I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

I’ve heard and read the most outrageous and ridiculous defenses of those indefensible words. “That’s just how men talk.” “That was locker room talk.” “Guys all say things like that.”

No. No, they don’t. And I can say that with some expertise on the subject, because I am one. I’m not going to say that I’ve never heard a man talk that way in the company of other men, when he thought it was ok. The same way a racist will let fly with their prejudices when they’re surrounded by white people. I’ve worked with them, and been exposed to them in social situations. They’re assholes. And the responsible reaction is to call them out on it.

If a man hears that sort of crap, it’s his place to speak up. It’s his place to make sure everyone knows about it. Not because it’s our place to defend women, like they need some sort of champion, but because we can’t let slimeballs think that our silence at their noxious comments is tacit approval. An awkward chuckle and attempt to change the subject and/or escape the vicinity of such a shitheel isn’t enough. Tell them it’s not cool. And tell everyone who’ll listen what was said. Don’t let them hide their predatory nature.

That’s what those comments were. Predatory. He didn’t say “they want you to do it.” He said “they let you do it.” He doesn’t care what they want. Those words say that it doesn’t matter to him. They’ll let him do whatever he wants. Even if they don’t want it. Even if they’re afraid. Even if they’re repulsed.

Those aren’t the words of a strong man. Those are the words of a degenerate monster.

How to: Pay Back a Debt

When you borrow money from a friend, don’t just drop cash off at their house to pay them back. Pay a debt to a friend back in a bar, and pick up the tab. If you can’t afford a couple of rounds of beer in appreciation, you probably can’t afford to be repaying that money.

Your friend doesn’t drink? Buy them dinner and get the check.

I Talk About Shit I Shouldn’t. Again. Guns Edition

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Yup. I’m pretty dumb for even voicing an opinion.

I’ve been thinking about writing this for quite a while. This wasn’t inspired by recent news, but I can’t pretend that its tone hasn’t been affected by world events.

I grew up with guns in the house. My father was federally licensed for concealed carry* and owned several. For my tenth birthday I got an air rifle. For my thirteenth I got a .22. As soon as I was old enough to handle the recoil of each weapon, I was taught to fire it. Before I could fire them, I was taught how to handle them. How to break them down for cleaning and how to carry them. The first thing I learned with each weapon was how to unload it. Every one of the weapons in the house was kept loaded, because “an unloaded gun is a useless gun.”

It’s been years since I’ve lived with one, and I’ve fired fewer than a handful of rounds in the past decade. Living in a more urban environment, I haven’t felt any need to own one. I have felt a desire to own one, but not enough to justify the purchase considering the cost and not having a convenient place to shoot. I feel very little need to have a firearm for protection, but I enjoyed shooting.

I used a lot of words to say that I’m all for gun ownership. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in legislation and regulation. Regulation at the federal level, however, is a difficult thing that doesn’t make much sense. The left-hand rhetoric surrounding the subject, comes mostly (please note that I said mostly) from people with little-to-no hands-on experience with firearms. What they know comes from the media and fiction, and they’re largely from urban and suburban backgrounds. It most often seems to come down to a desire to ban weapons based upon their appearance and features they think sound scary. “No one needs high-caliber rifles that fire more than one shot!” is a cry that comes from someone who has never lived in proximity to large predators. Bears and boars will often take more than one shot to drop. Unlike in the movies, humans usually will, too.

Living in rural areas, guns are a part of life. They’re used for hunting and for defense. When police response can optimistically take longer than 30 minutes, a gun borders on a necessity, right behind a well-equipped first aid kit. Regulation in one place doesn’t necessarily make sense when applied to another. This is a problem with federal regulations and the reason that, for the most part, firearm laws have been left to the individual states. The idea is that, given the size of this country and varying populations, each state best knows how to legislate weapons.

They’re doing a shitty job.

Most legislation and mandated waiting periods have applied to handguns. The logic behind this has been that, though less lethal than a rifle or shotgun, their ability to be concealed made them a greater threat. Even 20 years ago, purchasing a revolver in upstate NY would require a waiting period, a certificate from a safety class, and a permit. A rifle or shotgun could be purchased over the counter with a driver’s license. Because they could be used as tools, and someone being able to sneak a long gun into a crowded area and open fire seemed the smaller threat. This is why sawed-off shotguns are illegal. Emphasis on regulation has always tended to be heavier the more easily a weapon could be hidden.

Events over the past few years may have changed some opinions on the matter.

I’ve probably lost a few of the more liberal-leaning readers by now simply by saying that I support gun ownership. Here’s where I’ll lose the conservatives.

The cry of the right wing in response to nearly any call for regulation of arms in civilian hands has been that to do so would violate the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. I’ll make no claims of the types of weapons available increasing in power. I don’t think that matters. In my reading of the document’s writ, my belief in the framers’ intent, and by my understanding of the law, it most certainly is not. “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

My interpretation of that sentence looks to the first half of that sentence as a qualifier. It is clear, to me, that the intention was for the populace to be armed, but to be members of a militia. And not just a militia, but one that is well organized. At the time of the Constitution’s writing the United States were governed by the Articles of Confederation. The articles stated that each state would keep a “well-regulated and disciplined militia”. In the terms of the day, a militia was a volunteer army beholden to its home state, as opposed to the regular army, which was beholden to the nation.

The idea that the Second Amendment was written so that any individual could defend themselves from governmental tyranny is laughable. It was written so that the individual states could call upon an armed fighting force that they kept trained and accoutred. The Constitution itself held provisions for the raising of militias. It was a power of Congress, with the Legislative being in charge to offset the power of the president as Commander in Chief of the military. The provision has been amended, and as of today the United States has two militias. The  reserve militia “unorganized militia” is made up of every male aged 17-45 who isn’t in the military or National Guard. The organized militia is the National Guard.

I believe that National Guardsmen are our well-regulated militia, and as such the Second Amendment applies to them specifically. Feel free to read up on it yourself. The Congressional Annals are online and you can review the Secretary’s notes yourself. It’s actually a pretty fascinating thing to read. So, yeah. Unless you’re a member of a state’s National Guard, the Second Amendment provides you with no right to bear arms.

BUT! Even if you disagree with me, or you agree and just think people should be able to own guns, I don’t think the government should take everybody’s guns away. We do need some common sense laws in place, though. I, of course, have some thoughts on the matter.

  1. Anyone convicted of a felony forfeits their right to purchase a gun. If you think that’s unfair, first consider the fact that they’ve lost their right to vote. Until I see you campaign to get that right returned to them, I don’t want to hear shit about how you think they should be armed.
  2. Any individual currently charged with a violent crime must forfeit their weapons pending the trial’s outcome and may not purchase a gun until they are proven innocent or the case is dropped.
  3. Purchasing a gun will require an individual be proficient in its use. That means they would have to be trained by a certified instructor with at least 40 hours of experience in handling, maintaining, and firing the weapon safely.
  4. Purchasing a gun requires that it be insured. Damages beyond the owner’s ability to pay will be paid for via an insurance policy maintained by a private company.
  5. The federal government will keep a database of firearms by state. Sellers who are found to have sold multiple weapons involved in crimes will lose their license and may be charged as criminal accessories, as determined on a case-by-case basis. (this should put a dent in so-called “straw sales”) States are already keeping track of weapons. Email the pertinents to the feds.
  6. All other licensing and restrictions will be left up to the state and/or municipality.

I want y’all to notice something. I didn’t say people’s guns should be taken away. I didn’t say that guns are bad. But, we have to recognize that the world isn’t what it was when the Constitution was written. Most Americans aren’t raised around guns. Duels with pistols aren’t considered an acceptable and legal way of settling a dispute. We live closer together. If people are going to own guns they need to be trained how to respect them and how to use them. They need to be able to make restitution for damages. And firearms sellers need to be held responsible for their business practices.

The vast majority of gun owners in this country own guns because they’re fun to shoot. It’s a hobby. It’s why there are Hello Kitty rifles. The AR-15 is so popular because it looks cool. It’s far from the deadliest weapon available at your average sporting goods store. But, particularly among the novice gun enthusiasts and crazy people, it’s incredibly popular. Because it looks cool and kinda’ scary. Like a Harley.

If you truly believe that owning a gun is a right, you should most definitely be willing to live up to the responsibility that comes along with it. The knee-jerk reaction of “you’ll never take my guns” whenever any sort of legislation is even mentioned is, frankly, stupid, and spurred on by industry organizations who know that it’ll eat into their profits. If Bob would have to spend an extra $100 a year in insurance to add another .30-06 to his collection, he might decide he can do without another. It’s not communism. Recognizing that maybe owning a shotgun should require some training doesn’t mean you’re helping to start a domino effect. Really.

Can we please be reasonable?

 

*my brother was kind enough to point out that what my father had was not a concealed carry permit. There’s no such thing. What he had was an FFL, which, I HAVE NO IDEA WHY, I somehow thought meant he was allowed to carry concealed in any state. I could edit, but let’s preserve my stupidity for posterity.

How to Help Your Blogging Buddy

ReleventMacro

There are innumerable articles and blog pieces that offer advice on increasing blog traffic and readership. They vary wildly in quality of both writing and content. While there are enough This Simple Trick Will Increase Your Traffic Eleventy-Gajillion Percent! headlines to make you want to scream, there are plenty of guides filled with quality tips and tricks. This is not one of those articles. This one is meant for people who read blogs, though a good chunk of what’s in here could be applied to just about any website.

A Friend Who Proofread’s a Friend Indeed

When you read something and notice a mistake in grammar or punctuation you’ll probably keep it to yourself and continue on. You may think of it as a kindness. You’re practically the Mother Theresa of the blogosphere with all the ugly typos you pass by without so much as a comment. But, you’re not really helping anyone. Send the writer a message. “Hey. I found a typo on page X of your site.” They will likely be slightly embarrassed, but will almost certainly appreciate the help.

Having good content includes spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Mistakes can not only have a negative impact on readers’ perceptions, but also effect a page’s rank in search results. This applies to more than just blogs. Make sure to tell your friend the amateur taxidermist that they misspelled something on their Etsy listing. They’ll appreciate it.

Sharing is Caring

Everyone likes likes and loves on their posts to social media. That little bit of validation that tells us our thoughts have been noticed by someone out there in this dark, inhospitable world. Truly, we are not alone. We are seen. We have left a mark. We will not be forgotten.

Search engines love them, too. They use those likes to measure engagement and to know what’s popular, pushing pages up in search results. Know what search engines love even more? Shares, posts, retweets, repins, whatever. They indicate a greater level of engagement amongst page visitors and have a greater effect.This is, of course, in addition to the primary benefit; more shares equals more exposure, which means more people visiting. Again, this also applies to pretty much any website.

Even better than simple shares are targeted ones. You’re on a “Hippy Moms” Facebook group? That’s an awesome place to share your friend’s review of an herbal stain remover. The gaming subreddit you frequent might also appreciate that satirical post about Batman’s alignment in the new movie.

This, of course, all only applies if you actually think the work is good. If it’s garbage, please don’t embarrass your friends by spreading their shame.

Where Can Matter As Much As What You Say

Whether you want to leave a positive or negative comment (or a like) on something a friend’s posted, where you leave it matters. Generally speaking, leaving a comment directly on the page will have a more profound effect than having a discussion on social media. It means that your comment is actually attached to the post (if you’re talking about a store, leaving a product review is a really big deal) can be seen by anyone who looks at the page. That both shows engagement and inspires other visitors to leave comments. There’s a reason so many blog posts and articles end with something along the lines of “Tell us what you think in the comments”.  It’s a call to action.

Comments left directly have a particularly strong effect on in-platform metrics. Most blogs run on one of the big platforms like WordPress, Blogger, or Tumblr, which have their own tracking and try to foster “communities” in their user bases. Getting a lot of traffic and engagement on a post will bring it to the platform’s attention and can get the post or blog featured. Anyone who uses Reddit, where upvotes can directly increase exposure, is familiar with how this works.

Not sure where you should hit like? Why not both!

If Your Ideas are So Great Get Your Own Damned Blog

Your friend’s site is ok, you guess, but it’d be so much better if they wrote about completely different things in a completely different style, with a completely different tone. And had more pictures with fewer words. I mean, you could help. You’ve got a ton of great photos and ideas. You’re just going to tell them what they should be doing.

You could do that, but it’ll make you kind of a jerk. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t ask someone what their opinion is on something, or tell them that you think it’d be interesting if they wrote about a particular subject, but that’s really only cool if it fits in any themes they might be trying to hold to. Don’t try to ghostwrite your own blog through them. Create you’re own. I’m living proof that any idiot can do it!

I Don’t Understand Gender Identity

notsmartI’ve never understood it when I’ve read or heard someone say they identify as just about anything. It’s always seemed foreign to me when a person seems to define their identity around a single aspect of their character or a lone interest.  Is it related to a need to belong to a community? If so, that may explain why I’ve never really felt as though I belonged in one. I don’t think I’ve ever really known what it feels like to “be” anything. I mean, I’ve felt hungry. And happy. And sad, hurt, grateful, worried, and the whole gamut of emotions and inputs. But, when someone says they believe they were born the wrong gender, I don’t get it. I have no idea what someone born with ladyparts means when they say that they feel like a man.

In the little world inside my skull, I know that I am male. I know this not because of anything I feel, but because of what I see when I take my clothes off and because I have a Y chromosome. And to me, that’s all gender really is; some physical characteristics. Everything else that gets assigned based on gender is a construct or side effect of such. And I don’t understand someone born with guyjunk who says they feel like a woman. What the hell does that mean? I’m not sure if my perplexity is indicative of ignorance or enlightenment(I always hope for the latter, but it’s nearly always the former). Gender is a physical characteristic. I am tall, I am right-handed, I have blue eyes, I have large feet, I am male.

Do they mean they don’t like the way their junk looks and/or feels to the touch? Because, to me, that’s the same thing as not liking your hair color. I’m down with people making whatever modifications to their body they want. Their choice.

Does it mean they want to wear clothes that are traditionally worn by women? Do it! Wear whatever the hell you want. If you don’t like tuxedos get a LBD and some pumps for the next black tie affair you’re invited to. They want to wear makeup? Go for it. The only things you should get made fun of for are how poorly those brows are penciled in and how crooked that catseye looks. These are just things people put on. Women aren’t dresses and makeup.

Is it tied to the way women are traditionally treated? The romanticized notion that women are the fairer sex, more demure and poised than men?. Is it because they’d like to be treated softly? Want to take part in activities that tradition dictates belong to women? I can wrap my head around all of those things.

I don’t understand. And I want to. I recognize that no one owes me any sort of explanation, and I’m not expecting one. You be you. You wanna’ refer to yourself as he, she, trans, modified, whatever I don’t care. That’s cool, and I’ll stick to the pronoun you introduce yourself as. Past introductions, I’ll try to remember, but honestly won’t beat myself up over it if I forget every once in a while. Nothing personal. I’ve got a family member who changed their name near 20 years ago, but still keep on using her old one. Just because that’s what’s in my brain. You change your name from Paul to Paula, odds are pretty good I’ll keep using Paul. Not because I’m dismissive or as a statement against your change, but because that’s how I’ve learned to think of you. I ascribe to Shakespeare’s thought on roses. I’ve known dudes who were Kelly and Shannon and women who were Alex. Continuing to refer to you as Carl isn’t a hate crime.

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t have to understand. It doesn’t concern me how someone else dresses or how they refer to themselves. If I’m not trying to undress someone and touch their junk, it makes absolutely no difference to me what’s in their pants or up their skirt. The outcry and the bigotry rearing its ugly head have me absolutely baffled. Why the hell does anyone give a shit?

Is it that people are trying to reason out why someone would want to dress as the opposite gender? If that’s the case, and the first/only answer they come up with is “to rape someone” that says a whole lot to me. I’m more frightened of people who think that way than any dude in a dress. It’s about as appropriate a reaction as believing someone who shaves their head must be a sexual predator. It’s so they can’t leave hair behind, you know.

Let’s Get Meta

toneI’m gonna’ write about writing. In doing so I’ll briefly be writing about writing about writing. And when I am done I will have written about writing about writing. Yes, I did that just to amuse myself with the knowledge that you will have read those sentences. I’m both that kind of dork and that kind of jerk.

I’ve got just this side of zero formal education in how to string words together. I learned to write by reading. Being a colossal geek who spent a significant amount of time (all of my free time) on the internet. I honed my skills by writing there; conversing with friends and strangers using instant messaging programs, in chat rooms, on message boards, and on Usenet. It’s astonishing what immediate unflinching criticism from anonymous and antisocial individuals can do when you’re the sort who takes it to heart. Particularly if you’re also extremely curious and go poking around corners of the internet best left unexplored and take advantage of that same anonymity to ask questions usually better left unasked.

The lessons those years in front of a screen taught me were multitude. The most valuable of them related to framing an argument for a particular audience. It taught me that semantics are important and how easily a very slight change to the words you use can trigger or defuse an argument without changing your meaning. And the way people react to particular arguments can (and boy will they) vary, often drastically. My recent post on white privilege was written with the sort of person who believes racial and/or gender inequality aren’t A Thing in mind. You know. People who are wrong.

What I found absolutely fascinating were the reactions from people who lean socially left as opposed to those on the right. Thanks to social media I was able to follow some of the conversations that went on when people reposted the piece. I could play voyeur and “listen in”. Liberals had a tendency to be dismissive, believing the semantics weren’t important. A few conservatives said things like, “I get the point, but the tone is too apologetic”. Most of those talking about it were middle-aged white males. Overall, I was OK with this; my argument seems to have made some people who have ignored minorities’ complaints actually consider the idea. And that was my goal. Seeing that made me damned proud of myself. I care far less about what people who already accept the point I was trying to make as fact think about it. Except for how it effects my ego, which can be quite a bit. They’re jerks.

I’ve gone off on a tangent, though.

My point is that there are a million different ways to say something. The way that works for me won’t necessarily work for you. The words you use will be processed differently by readers based on their own experiences. Reactions will also vary based on your audience’s impression of who you are. When I write something persuasive I try to keep in mind the sort of person I’m addressing. I make my best attempt at empathy and step into their shoes. When I’m writing something general, or for myself, my tone is different. I usually use less confrontational language and humor.

The voice(s) I write in varies. Not like the ones in my head. Those are all pretty consistent. They just want whiskey. And murder. Haha! I kid. About the murder. Not the whiskey.

Your Music Sucked Too

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This comparison just doesn’t seem fair somehow.

These kids today, with their hair and their music. It’s all nonsense. Why, back in my day, we had pop music that meant something! Amirite? No deep meaning. Just trash!

No. That statement is wrong. The most popular comparison that I’ve seen pop up on social media has been a comparison of Beyonce’s Run the World and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody in the form of an image macro, but it’s not the only one. The point of these memes seems to be that pop musicians created better music than those of today. Let’s take off our rosy glasses, shall we?

Freddie Mercury was one of the most incredibly talented artists of the last century and Bohemian Rhapsody is a freaking masterpiece. It was arguably his seminal work. But, let’s not pretend for a second that Queen didn’t release some disposable catchy pop. The man who wrote “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” also wrote “I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride my bike.” and “Fat bottomed girls you make the rockin’ world go round.”

Not even the holy cows of popular music managed to release nothing but deep meaningful tunes.

  • Paul McCartney wrote “Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra. La-la how the life goes on.”
  • Madonna had a few, but let’s go with Vogue as an example.
  • Beck’s Loser has been assigned all sorts of deep meaning. It’s mostly nonsense, and the man himself said that if he’d know it would catch on he would have put more work into it.
  • Bob “the-greatest-songwriter-of-the-century” Dylan wrote “Wiggle wiggle wiggle like a bowl of soup. Wiggle wiggle wiggle like a rolling hoop.”

I’m not saying that Ms. Knowles is making great art. I honestly don’t know, because I’m pretty damned unfamiliar with her work past what I hear on the radio in the supermarket or gets put on movie soundtracks. What I am saying is that we (old people) need to put crappy pop music in proper context. My parents panned what I listened to. I’m complaining about what’s popular now.

When I think back about music when I was a teen I remember the good stuff. What gets play on the classic rock station and the oldies station is not at all representative of what got played 20, 30, or 40 years ago. It’s the stuff that didn’t suck. While I was listening to Pearl Jam’s Dissident, Ace of Bass was topping the charts. And I’ll admit that I didn’t change the station when All That She Wants came on.

Let’s be honest, y’all. We listened to some crap. I’m gonna’ go hit play on some Milli Vanilli now.

Crazy eyes are crazy.

Global Warming? I Dunno’

Crazy eyes are crazy.

Wait! Let me finish!

Here’s an unpopular opinion. Please hold on to your torches and pitchforks until the end. I’m not convinced that global warming is a result of human action on the environment. Or that it’s necessarily even a Thing. I’ve seen a considerable amount of data that indicates our planet’s average temperatures are rising, but not enough to convince me it will be a permanent increase. I personally believe that we don’t have nearly enough information over a long enough period to say for sure. I find it to be entirely possible that our inherent humancentric view of the universe is leading us to blame ourselves for what may very well be completely natural.

Now, here’s the thing. I don’t think it matters. If there’s a possibility that our actions are causing our entire planet to heat up, why wouldn’t we take action? Especially if those actions make sense for our long-term welfare.

The most widely recognized cause of global warming is energy production through the burning of fossil fuels. Predictive models have indicated that our atmosphere will absorb the byproducts of all that burnt fuel and, effectively, cook the planet. Personally, I believe that there are far more variables than we could possibly account for and any predictions generated are incomplete. The closest we have to a solution is to find alternative energy sources.

Whether carbon emissions will have an enduring effect on global climate or not, we should be searching for new ways to generate power. The burning of oil, coal, and natural gasses is dirty. So is their collection, literally poisoning the ground and water where they are mined or tapped. Were we able to come up with a way to extract them from the ground in a 100% safe way there would still be the problem of the limited supplies. These things occur in nature, and we can’t create more for use in power generation. Creating synthetic versions requires energy, which needs to come from somewhere.

When I was a kid, nuclear fission was going to power the World of Tomorrow, at least until we figured out how to sustain a fusion reaction. But, thanks to a few disasters (who could have predicted that building a nuclear power facility in one of the most seismically active areas of the world could end poorly?) public sentiment has turned pretty strongly against the nuclear option.

The other option we heard a lot about was hydro-electric power generation. The problems with this have a lot to do with viability being based on local conditions; you need consistent running water to make it work. Large projects were commissioned and more than a few dams were built, causing new and exciting unforeseen ecological disasters. They’re also extremely expensive both to build and maintain. Anything that’s constantly exposed to water tends to be difficult to construct and rarely lasts very long.

Nowadays we’re hearing almost exclusively about solar and wind as the power sources of the future. Both generate “clean” energy. I use quotes, because the manufacture of the systems, and necessary power storage units, are anything but clean. Batteries wear out. What will our landfills look like in 50 years with half a century’s worth of spent batteries that powered our homes and vehicles buried in the ground? I struggle to think that they’ll be anything but toxic deadlands.

All this negative stuff I’m writing about shouldn’t lead you to believe I support continuing down the path we’re on. Far from it. I just get concerned when I hear people talk about these things like they’re solutions. They’re really not. They’re new stopgaps that will gain us more time to find truly sustainable methods of harvesting power.

Why bring up my doubts about global warming? Because, though I personally feel that current scientific leanings toward carbon emissions being a factor in climate change are correct, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the case. While I remain unconvinced, the greatest reason to move to something other than fossil fuels is the simplest. We’ll eventually run out. If you look at your refrigerator and see you’re running out of food, you don’t wait until it’s empty before going to the supermarket. At least you don’t if you’re a capable adult.

Our economic reliance on fuel, oil in particular, is not to be discounted. An overnight shift to an alternative energy source would shatter the world’s economy into a billion tiny pieces. Make no mistake. That’s not an argument against moving, it’s an argument to plan for that move. It’s an argument to wean ourselves off the teat.

It’s time to change what we’re doing. It’s time to pick up the pace. It’s time to stop arguing about the effects of our current energy usage on the environment and face up to the fact that even if burning oil cured leukemia and smelled like flowers WE DON’T HAVE AN INFINITE SUPPLY. It makes no difference if there’s a 10 year supply, 100 year supply, or 1000 year supply. It’s finite. We are going to run out. Reducing dependence will help, but it’s untenable. Particularly since we use oil for more than just fuel.

Petroleum distillates are used in a variety of applications as solvents and lubricants. In the United States, natural gas is used in the production of plastics instead of oil. The device I’m writing this on and the one you’re reading this on are both made largely of components that contain oil or natural gas. The wires carrying the data from my device to yours were coated in it. Hell, if you’re not concerned about pollution, or think we should wait to find an alternative way to power our world until after we’ve actually run out of our current fuel choices, just think about all the stuff you’ll be missing out on!

“But, gas prices are going down!” you cry, oh hypothetical reader. That has very little to do with how much oil is available in the ground. Actually, it has next to nothing to do with it. Oil prices have to do with how much is available right now along with current production levels, versus how much is being consumed. It doesn’t account for tapped out wells, because it can’t. We don’t know a well’s capacity until it stops producing, and by then it’s a little late. The professionals just make educated guesses, and the good guessers are paid very handsomely. (Yes, I know that’s an oversimplification, but I’ve gone 1000 words without being overly hyperbolic. Cut me some slack.) For all we know, every single oil well on the planet could run dry within 5 years. That’s remarkably unlikely (like, holy crap is that unlikely) but possible.

Can we please stop arguing about whether burning oil is effecting the environment? Please? We all admit that it’ll eventually run out. We all know it’s messy and destructive when we pull it out of the ground. No one wants to live next to a power plant and none of us like the smog produced by automobiles. So, let’s just table the human-caused climate change debate. Because it doesn’t matter. We’ve got enough reasons to move on.