Berkeley Student Gets a “Fail” for her Global Warming Essay.

Every now and again, magazines and papers will let some enthusiastic young writer loose on the burning issues of the day. Kind of a “voice of the future” thing. Of course, the essays submitted are almost always excruciating; full of wild generalisations, logical fallacies, and naive suggestions of the “Why don’t we just make everything better?” variety, as though no one had ever thought of that before. A recent op-ed in The Daily Californian by Cody Dunitz, a senior at UC Berkeley, provides an instructive glimpse into how the global warming propaganda campaign has succeeded in foisting some dubious claims on to unquestioning young students.

Cody’s thesis is that global warming presents an imminent threat to the food supply because – get this – global warming is making winters warmer. “Sure, it’s nice that it’s sunny and warm in the winter now,” she argues, “but global climate change is negatively affecting agriculture around the world”. And for Californians that means warm winters where pests aren’t killed off, according to Cody.

Fact Check: as the UN’s FAO reported recently, it is expecting a “record wheat harvest” this year, and notes that prices for grains and sugar are “plummeting” because of availability.

Fact Check: As The Huffington Post reported, Californians have been shivering through  “very unseasonable freezing temperatures”. Outside of heated university dorms, it was a cold winter for most of California.

She warns that one result of the warmer winters caused by global warming is increased pesticide use as farmers battle an increase in pests. These pesticides, she tells us, “can stay on food even once they have reached the grocery store, may cause people to become sick”.

Fact Check: Recent figures from California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation show that none of the samples of fruit and vegetables had dangerous levels of pesticide residue. In fact, most fruit and veg checked had “no detectable pesticide residues” at all! So even if you subscribe to the “run to the hills” branch of pesticide scaremongering, you can’t argue that there’s a problem when the latest liquid chromatography mass spectrometry techniques show no pesticide residue whatsoever. 

But (non-existent) pesticide residues are only one of Cody’s concerns. There’s the threat that global warming poses to the cherry supply for one. Oh yes. And avacodos, almonds, and even potatoes –

Do you like cherries? Well, get ready to kiss their juicy deliciousness goodbye. You see, cherries need time to chill in order to grow. And to chill, they of course need cold weather. Since temperatures have grown warmer, there has been less chill time for cherries. This means that cherries have not been growing as well. If this continues, it could severely deplete the cherry supply. And no cherries to grow means no cherries for us to eat . . .

In California alone, the amount of almonds, walnuts, grapes and avocados are predicted to decrease significantly because of climate change. And not only that, scientists say that the crop yield for almost every single crop grown in California’s Central Valley will plummet nearly 30 percent in the near future.

The Daily Californian: Fight Climate Change on a Local Level.

I’m not even sure what to say about this. Cherries are going to disappear because of global warming? Then how was it that last year was a “bumper harvest” for cherry growers in Queensland, Australia, where the average winter temperature is around 70 Fahrenheit? Some varieties of cherry need a chill in the winter, some don’t. But cherries are grown all around the world, even in semi-tropical areas which don’t have a “winter” to speak of at all

In response to the demise of the cherry, and the reduction of other crops by a third “in the near future” Cody says that there are no easy solutions. She recommends only buying local food rather than those “vine-ripened tomatoes from Mexico”.

Fact Check: Even the Worldwatch Institute notes that local food isn’t more environmentally friendly than food shipped in. This is because the final delivery from the producer or packer to the supermarket or store accounts for a very low percentage of greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production – around 4% according to a study by Christopher Weber and H. Scott Matthews, of Carnegie Mellon University.

So local food isn’t going to help, contrary to what our eager young correspondent asserts. But not to worry, because buying local food was only the first part of her prescription. The kind of action Cody really wants to encourage in her readers is “getting involved in your local climate change organization, educating yourself on agricultural policies, voting for change and emailing your congressional representative to let them know you care about our food”.

So, after all the wild claims, the unfounded assertions about disappearing cherries, after all that, the only real, tangible idea Ms Dunitz has is to join a local global warming group, “vote for change” (whatever could that mean?) and writing to politicians to tell them that you care about food (I’m sure they’ll be fascinated). In short, this is about pushing a political ideology under the guise of environmental urgency.

Don’t mistake me: I’m absolutely sure that Ms Dunitz earnestly believes that she’s advocating for the environment. What this undergraduate essay shows is the way in which global warming is a political and cultural ideology, not a scientific theory, for those who espouse concern over it. It’s become a meme, an idea that is self-replicating, being used to draw impressionable young people into a set of political beliefs and ideas which don’t stand up even judged by their own claims.

In summary, then, this is the result of allowing activism into academia and the classroom, of allowing organisations to push simplistic messages of environmental catastrophe to trusting children. Dunitz’s essays shows no critical thinking at all. There’s no questioning of what she’s obviously been told, or imbibed from pamphlets and websites of climate change groups, no grappling with the issues. Instead, there’s a loose handful of vague suggestions such as buying fair-trade bananas (from the Carribean or Africa one assumes, both thousands of miles away) and not tomatoes from Mexico, literally just across the border from California. More critical thinking needed, less unquestioning acceptance of what lobby groups and well-funded organisations spoon-feed you.

7 responses to “Berkeley Student Gets a “Fail” for her Global Warming Essay.

  1. ***…Queensland, Australia, where the average winter temperature is around 86 Fahrenheit?**

    I wish.

    I live in the warmest (far northern) part of QLD, and the temperatures in July (dead of winter in the southern hemisphere) average 64F to 77F, and the cherry-growing areas are quite a bit cooler than that.

    Apart from that: A+

    • Whoops! I did a quick conversion from celcius to farenheit in my head and must have miscalculated. It has been a few years since school 🙂 Thanks for pointing that out, I will edit accordingly.

  2. Wow. The writing style of the essayist, Cody Dunitz, seems like that of an elementary schooler, not a college-educated, almost graduated young woman.

  3. “I’m not even sure what to say about this. Cherries are going to disappear because of global warming?”

    There is nothing unsuaul about remarks like this, professional climate scientists make them every day. Remember last year when Antarctica was melting away due to global warming? Well this year Antarctica is growing again.. and its due to global warming!

    Last yeat they said coffee would become extinct due to global warming, why not cherries? Many years ago biologists claimed that insect infestations were due to the use of pesticides, today they don’t even mention pesticides, infestations are only due to global warming. The list goes on and on.

    I see nothing unusual about the cherries remark, we hear claims like this every day.

  4. Excellent article. As a Cal grad, I am constantly embarrassed when reading the inane comments made by some of the current student body. The combination of narcissism and naivete found in a large proportion of the current generation of college students is not especially encouraging…

  5. Physic-o-Climate

    Planetary atmospheric, surface, crust, mantle and core temperatures are not determined by (and cannot be calculated from) radiative energy budgets. In fact there is a huge effect caused by non-radiative processes. But there is no physical relationship that enables you to determine the temperature of a surface from just some information about non-radiative heat transfer. Furthermore, you can tell nothing from radiation either if significant energy is simultaneously being lost by non-radiative processes. At the very least you need information on temperature gaps at boundaries, because cooling processes are slowed as such gaps approach zero.

    The whole of the pseudo physics of greenhouse effects and assumed heating of the surface by back radiation (or “radiative forcing”) is trying to utilise the Stefan-Boltzmann equation which only relates to bodies in a vacuum losing all their energy by radiation without any conduction or evaporative cooling. A planet’s surface is not remotely like that.

    Just try explaining Venus surface temperatures with an instantaneous radiative energy budget! There is only about 10W/m^2 of direct Solar radiation reaching its surface, that is, less than a tenth of the amount received by Earth’s surface. So why is the Venus surface about 730K and how does it actually increase in temperature by about 5 degrees during the 4-month long Venus day?

    Instantaneous radiative energy budgets don’t have built in storage factors – the energy flows are balanced autonomously, but there is a lot of non-radiative heat transfer happening on Venus, and you need to understand why, or you don’t really understand what happens on Earth either.

  6. lectorconstans

    There you go again – expecting “facts” from a liberal warmer. One of the thousand divisions of people into Two Groups is that of Left- vs Right-brain thinking. One side is persuaded by logic and reason, the other, by emotion and intuition.

    For some as yet unaccountable reason, right-brain people are attracted to left-leaning ideologies.

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