Sunday, April 17, 2011

Environmental "Truth" in a Nutshell

Yesterday my family visited the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland. Pretty cool; definitely recommended. It's on a hilltop overlooking the bay, in a beautiful state park, and has many nice exhibits for ages 4-12 or so.

On the downside, a big chunk of the museum is given over to Bill Nye the Climate Guy. One attraction was a bicycle kids could ride while watching a video of Bill biking in front, and confronting a boy and his father for driving to the gym. "Why don't you bike or walk to the gym, or better yet, give up those gym memberships altogether?" says Bill. "Why don't you mind your own *&^# business?" I wanted them to respond.

But the worst one, and this really sums up something essential about the environmentalists, was a wind turbine demonstration. You were supposed to pull a handle, which started a flow of air going, that turned the wind turbines and made a light go on. Simple. Only, when I tried it, because of the angle of the turbine blades, the wind didn't make them turn. They just juddered and rocked back and forth, never actually making more than a few degrees of rotation in either direction.

But the light came on anyway. Obviously, the demo had been rigged: when you pulled the handle, it made the light go on. The turbine had nothing to do with it. I get why a museum would do this, of course: you want the demos to work and not frustrate the kids. But the irony is thick: environmentalists constantly try to rig the numbers to make it look like converting to a more expensive, less efficient form of energy production will create jobs, or to make it look like wind plants produce more energy than they do, or what have you. Are here they are rigging a museum demo about one of their pet technologies. Priceless.

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