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10 Things to Scratch From Your Worry List. – Really?

The NYTimes has an article on its ‘Science’ pages today that refers to something we in Bavaria (if in any way connected to school) are thinking about at the moment: vacations. To be more precise, it is about ten things we needn’t worry about when on vacation: 10 Things to Scratch From Your Worry List, assembled and explained by John Tierney.
I approached the article in a kind of relaxed anticipation of amusement. But although there are some amusing points as well (#9. The universe’s missing mass; and #10. Unmarked wormholes), as I went from one point to the next, my sense of amusement somehow drained away.
I can’t help feeling that this is a very typically American “not-to-worry” list. – Am I being overly German about it? For example this one:

[I wouldn’t spend a nanosecond of my vacation worrying about any of these 10 things:]
2. Your car’s planet-destroying A/C. No matter how guilty you feel about your carbon footprint, you don’t have to swelter on the highway to the beach. After doing tests at 65 miles per hour, the mileage experts at report that the aerodynamic drag from opening the windows cancels out any fuel savings from turning off the air-conditioner.

So I think: Well – maybe you’re right. Maybe opening the car windows is as bad for fuel consumption as using the air-conditioner.
What I don’t like is the tone Tierney uses (“your car’s planet-destroying A/C”). To my taste, he makes it sound as if all those warnings about dangerous environmental developments were nothing but the whinings of misguided, uninformed and obnoxious individuals, most of them either Europeans or former vice presidents.

I was cheered up, however, by reading the comments. Some of the commentators are grateful to Tierney, some of them dismiss his article as misleading, e.g. Rick Evans:

Tierney you really ran out of steam on this one. Only astrophysicists “worry” about #9 and trekkies about #10. Far from worrying about #7, there are 1.5 billion reasons for sharks to worry; nouveau riche Chinese who want to show off their wealth by killing the ocean’s predators for their fins. Tigers and rhinos have even more reasons to fret.
Notwithstanding your Cato-esque optimism, melting polar (#8) AND glacial ice trend is worth worrying about.
And how about neither. A reused canvas bag is better than plastic, paper or the recycling of either.

Oh, and I like Will’s comment (comment #31), especially this paragraph:

[...] I agree that people should not freak out about eating a hot dog here or a plastic bag there, but Americans in general shouldn’t be encouraged to waste more. And pop culture writers shouldn’t try to bolster their articles with pseudo-science.

1 comment to 10 Things to Scratch From Your Worry List. – Really?

  • I was going to say something incredibly German about the question of windows vs. air conditioning, but then I saw that comment #4 in the original blog post beat me to it.

    Didn’t care too much for the article’s tone, either. You’re right, the comments are a good read.