Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Tissue Issue

It’s fashionable to be “green” these days, among liberals at least. Advertisers pick up on it to make products and services seem as green as possible. Given that man-made global warming is being exposed as a hoax with fudged data in British and American universities, NASA, and the UN, I’m wondering how long the fad will last.

Two years ago, pop singer Sheryl Crow showed clips from Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” on her concert tour and insisted we could save the planet by using only one sheet of toilet paper per visit, “ . . . except, of course, on those pesky occasions when two or three could be required.” I can’t help but think that attempts to use just one sheet would be the main cause of “those pesky occasions,” but I’m one of those conservatives the Green People think don’t care about the environment and like to pollute it every chance I get because I like drinking dirty water, breathing dirty air, and using too much toilet paper, so what would I know?

Remember that Gore is the guy who, as a US Senator, restricted each American toilet flush to two-and-a-half gallons, so now toilet paper doesn’t go all the way down after you flush. It just swirls around and stays in the bowl - an inconvenient flush, you could say, because we have to wait while the tank slowly fills up and try again.

When Al Gore and Sheryl Crow insist that global warming is caused by human activity, they sound like Chicken Little and Henny Penny squawking “The sky is falling!” Nonetheless, I don’t want to get in the way of any students who wish to comply with Crow’s recommendation. The problem is that toilet paper at my school is on continuous rolls about twelve or fourteen inches in diameter and not perforated into individual sheets. Students and teachers must reach into the bottom of the dispenser, grab hold of the end of the roll, pull down a length of tissue, then pull up and to the side so the sawtooth edge of the dispenser severs the piece for use. If the one sheet Crow wants people to use is four inches long, it would be nearly impossible for students to pull out only that much and tear it off. It would just shred in their fingers and make for an inconvenient wipe.Luckily we have award-winning custodians in my school and I put the problem to them. Could we possibly perforate the big toilet paper rolls by drilling into them? They furrowed their brows and scratched their chins as they considered my tissue issue. They could drill a set of holes across the paper from the outside in so it would rip off in perforated sheets they said, but the ones toward the end of the roll would become ever smaller as its circumference steadily decreased with use. Those tearing off sheets at the end would find them so small that one sheet couldn’t possibly suffice for the task at hand no matter how fervently they wanted to save the planet. Steadily decreasing school budgets may, however, solve the perforation problem. Students in Ireland and Hawaii are now requested to bring their own toilet paper and we can ask our students too.

Meanwhile, Sheryl Crow is still, as our Hawaiian president might say, all “wee-weed up” over toilet paper. Last week, she wanted only recycled toilet paper dispensed at her concerts. I don’t know if she’ll allow people to use more than one square if it’s recycled, but she specifies that it has to be “post-consumer recycled toilet paper and paper towel” and that leaves me wondering: Does she mean some consumer must have used the toilet paper before her concert-goers use it? If so, how does it get recycled? Is it pulled up from a septic tank and reprocessed? I don’t like to visualize that so I’ll assume it’s from some other sort of “post-consumer” use, like an already-read newspaper or something.

Readers should keep this in mind should Crow ever decide to do a gig here in the Maine/New Hampshire area and you get what folk singer Tom Rush might call “the urge for going.” If it’s an outside venue, I suppose people could pick a leaf off a low branch and use that for a real greenie wee-wee.


Irregardless NH said...

Educator McLaughlin's recent 'contribution' [sic] to the political conversation ("The Tissue Issue") is a new low-water mark for the writer. To call it sophomoric would be an insult to all 14-year-olds. The piece was capped by a photoshopped image of President Obama on a roll of toilet paper.

Readers of EMcL's blog realize that the summer is fast a-waning and he must be bored to tears and chomping at the bit to get back to his classroom where he can (sadly) mold young minds.

There is no other explanation for such tripe.

Anonymous said...

Tom - you have a sublime sense of the ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

Well, Global warming is real enough, we just argue over the cause. If one of the conservative talking heads supported the idea, Mr McLaughlin and his friends would be all over it. They just found a convenient scapegoat in Mr Gore. These heating and cooling cycles take hundreds and thousands of years, I will not live long enough to say I told you so and am not really worried about it.

As for the Toilet Paper issue, I really dont give a S**T.

Nathan said...

From commenting on this blog in the past I know this will have very little effect except to get me all fired up, but I'm going for it anyway. Before you respond to this comment, please read all of it.

Global warming is neither a myth nor a hoax. It has been studied extensively, and the consensus among the scientific community, especially among climatologists, is that it is a real effect, and that we humans are very likely responsible for it. The warming trend has spiked in recent decades, far more than sunspot cycles and other natural causes, and our industrial revolution is really the only variable that has been introduced in the time frame required. Ergo, we're probably responsible.

The fudged data of which Tom spoke has been thoroughly addressed, and if he took a minute to read some real analysis would realize it's been a mountain made out of a molehill. The leaked emails perhaps uncovered a few dissenting scientists, but they were taken out of context, not to mention full of jargon, so unless you read the whole email and do some serious study you don't have any idea what the email says. I haven't done this, and I bet the people up in arms over the emails haven't either, so I advise them to do what I do: keep their mouths shut and stop pretending to be experts when they only have a tiny part of the story.

Global warming, and specifically the human causes of it, has been accepted by most major bodies of scientists on the planet. There are some that remain noncommittal, but there are none claiming humans are not responsible. You can talk about these bodies and their agendas if you want, but they are scientists that form their opinions based on facts and observable evidence, not political views or anything else.

I do agree, however, that the "green" trend often goes too far, and most companies that tag their products as "green" are far more interested in selling those products than making any change to the environment. It's smart advertising, but that doesn't make it right.

Using only a single sheet of toilet paper won't make a noticeable change in anything (except maybe TP sales figures), and like carbon taxes and cap and trade legislation it's too little and too late. The only way out is to seriously reconsider our use of fossil fuels (which are being exhausted whether you want to admit it or not), generate electricity with the only clean technology that can meet our energy needs on the scale required (nuclear), and invest heavily in research on other resources that don't pollute.

Like it or not, we cannot sustain our current lifestyle without a drastic change in our energy sources in the next 50 years, so we'd better do something about it. Sparing squares of TP won't do it, but it's a start.

JOHN R said...


Tom McLaughlin said...


You're not a crank. You seem like a serious guy who looks for truth and does what he thinks is right. This is a sardonic piece meant to tease the rabid liberal "climate change" crowd, but I truly believe the human cause of global warming is invented by those who want to reverse the industrial revolution, who believe the worst villains on earth are oil companies.

You write: "The warming trend has spiked in recent decades, far more than sunspot cycles and other natural causes, and our industrial revolution is really the only variable that has been introduced in the time frame required. Ergo, we're probably responsible."

Just one comment: "Correlation isn't causation." There were many much more extreme cycles of cooling/warming over millions of years before humans were on earth. What caused them?

The warmest years of the twentieth century were in the thirties, not lately. That data was fudged.

You write: "You can talk about these bodies and their agendas if you want, but they are scientists that form their opinions based on facts and observable evidence, not political views or anything else."

That's just plain naive. When panic over global warming became trendy, scientists jumped on the bandwagon. That's where the research money is, so they apply, get funded, and then join the chorus. Empirical research is secondary once they hear music from the bandwagon - especially on college campuses. Scientists are not immune. Trust me. I've seen it over and over.

They most definitely have an agenda.

pinko said...

Ah - because conservation is such a silly, silly idea. Real Murrikens use the whole damned roll to wipe their hairy, masculine butts, right Tom?

Alexander said...

Great job. Just a minor correction.
When you say “consensus” you supposed to add “of RESPECTABLE scientists”. You have to somehow exclude me and ALL of physicists who I know. This is why you should never try to rephrase a manifesto, you may overlook something. Other than that, nice job.
I realize that from where you are it is a long way to understanding what is really going on. Science has newer been about consensus or “scientific bodies”. In fact, it is the technology of arriving at positive knowledge regardless of the scientists been regular humans. Science works with Data, then Facts, then Theories. Then new Data, new Facts, and advanced Theories. No consensus, respectable bodies, or other social structures.
So where is the original data again? Lost? What a BS!
Listen to Tom, he may not produce masterpieces every time but he is an educator and may actually teach you something.

vibeproductions said...

"Are we the party of carbon pollution forever in unlimited amounts?"
March 2, 2010

Last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spoke with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman to discuss clean energy legislation. During the interview, Graham warned his party that it will fall into irrelevancy if it continues to embrace climate change disinformers:

I have been to enough college campuses to know if you are 30 or younger this climate issue is not a debate. It’s a value. These young people grew up with recycling and a sensitivity to the environment — and the world will be better off for it. They are not brainwashed. … From a Republican point of view, we should buy into it and embrace it and not belittle them. You can have a genuine debate about the science of climate change, but when you say that those who believe it are buying a hoax and are wacky people you are putting at risk your party’s future with younger people.

Anonymous said...

Great insight as usual Tom. Science does not work on consensus. At one time the concesus was that horse hairs in water turned into eels, at one time the consensus was that the sun revolved around the earth, at one time consenus was that the earth was flat. Science is a constant search for the truth, most often found by dissenters.

What the global warming "scientists" did was alter data, conspire to create a preconcieved conclusion, and attempt to silence other voices (by shutting out a refereed journal). That is NOT science. If the evidence is so compelling, why would anyone have to silence dissenting voices? The very spot where I type this from was once covered with a mile thick sheet of ice. That ice receeded without any influence form man, yet we are suposed to believe that now we are completely responsible for a few degrees of variation in temperature.

If global warming was REALLY such a calamity then people like Al Gore would be shouthing that we should be building as many clean, reliable, economical hydroelectric dams as we possibly can. Instead he and the rest of the GIA worshipers call for the most expensive and unreliable forms of power known to man so they can pick our pockets and give us nothing in return. Al and the rest of his ilk can go sell crazy someplace else.