Remember the 1998 blockbuster Armageddon? It starred Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck who were charged with traveling to a meteor that was on a collision course with the Earth. They were supposed to plant nuclear bombs on the meteor to blow it apart so that the pieces would miss the earth by at least 200 feet. It was a great thriller that, while panned by the critics, was the highest grossing film of 1998. It came in at 150 minutes -- it could have been much, much shorter:
(Intro credits roll over President saying that the earth is in danger and something has to be done immediately -- or at least before the next election. Cut to the deck of a non-leaking oil drill rig somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. We see two men facing each other. As the shot closes in, we are overjoyed to find that it is Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck but we are disturbed because they appear angry.)
Stage direction: Bruce looks mean and his head is shining. Ben, hair waving in the wind, looks contrite but resolute, sorrowful but enigmatic, erudite but bedeviled. They are standing on the deck of the oil rig after just having been told of the mission to attempt to blow up a small mountain moving 150,000 miles per hour using what amounts to a really large firecracker.
Discussion between Bruce and Ben:
Bruce: I don't like you A.J. You're dating my daughter and you've got hair. That's a bad combination. But we've got a job to do. The likelihood is that we won't be coming back, so I'm going to overlook the hair thing . . . for now.
Ben: Harry, I'm not crazy about you either. I mean, Ashton? Come on! Still, I guess I'm in. What's the mission?
Bruce: A rock is heading straight towards earth. It'll land right on top of Des Moines, Iowa -- the geographic and intellectual center of the country. Some have said that the losses would be acceptable, but they have an irreplaceable new sculpture garden that must be saved. Besides, it'll also wipe out the rest of the planet. We have to blow it up before it gets here.
Ben (after pausing for a moment to think - he appears quizzical but aloof - then says): It's heading straight at the earth?
Ben: And it's going to destroy the entire planet?
Bruce: That's right. No scientific disagreement on that. It's a given -- we're goners.
Ben: Uhh . . well . . is this rock man-made or natural?
Bruce: What? Are you nuts? It's natural. This kind of thing happens every 100 million years or so. So what?
Ben: Well, I'm just sayin'. If it's not a man-made problem, should we really mess with nature?
Bruce: What are you talking about. You're missing the point. We're gonna die!
Ben: Well, I suppose so, but we didn't make the problem so I don't think we should try to solve the problem. I mean if nature caused it, won't nature fix it?
Bruce: Sure, but nature is going to fix it by destroying every living thing! All that will survive will be that waving hair of yours and a few million bed bugs.
Ben: Still, it's not man-made. If man didn't cause the problem, we don't need to fix it. I changed my mind. I'm not coming along.
After an appropriate glare and scowl, Bruce's eyebrows raise and he says: Kid, you're right. Maybe we can save the planet, but if they can't prove that the problem is man-made, then it should be hands off. That's just common sense. I was wrong about you, kid. You are brooding but contemplative. And, what the hell, go ahead and date my daughter.
(The end credits roll as Bruce and Ben meet up with the rest of the drilling party. Being a cold day on the high seas, most of the men drink hot tea.)
(Total running time -- 4 minutes. Four Academy Award nominations -- Best Depiction of Insanity, Best Lighting of an Abstruse Subject, Best Use of Hair and Non-Hair, Least Offensive Picture. Won all four, but tight race with The Truman Show for Best Depiction of Insanity.)
There are only three questions to the climate change debate:
1. Is climate change occurring? (Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce agrees it is).
2. If so, is it harmful? (This is the debate over the Endangerment Finding).
3. If so, can we (and for some, should we) do anything about it? (This is where solutions, affecting man-made sources and/or natural sources, will be considered).
All are important questions worth discussing . . . quickly. The question of whether it has been caused by our activities is just a red herring that seems to be populating the entire sea. Maybe we need to move on to better fishing, but with the current state of politics, that seems unlikely.