George Will: The Green Bubble Has Burst


From the Mt. Pleasant, MI Morning Sun. Graphic by Anthony

WASHINGTON – There once was an Indianapolis concert featuring 50 pianos. Splendid instruments, pianos. Still, 50 might have been excessive.

As is today’s chorus summoning us to save the planet.

In the history of developed democracies with literate publics served by mass media, there is no precedent for today’s media enlistment in the crusade to promote global warming “awareness.” Concerning this, journalism, which fancies itself skeptical and nonconforming, is neither.

The incessant hectoring by the media-political complex’s “consciousness-raising” campaign has provoked a comic riposte in the form of “The Goode Family,” an animated ABC entertainment program on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Cartoons seem, alas, to be the most effective means of seizing a mass audience’s attention. Still, the program is welcome evidence of the bursting of what has been called “the green bubble.”

Gerald and Helen Goode, their children and dog Che (when supervised, he is a vegan; when unsupervised, squirrels disappear) live in a college town, where T-shirts and other media instruct (“Meat is murder”), admonish (“Don’t kill wood”) and exhort (“Support our troops … and their opponents”). The college, where Gerald works, gives students tenure. And when Gerald says his department needs money to raise the percentage of minority employees, his boss cheerily replies, “Or we could just fire three white guys. Everybody wins!” Helen shops at the One Earth store, where community shaming enforces social responsibility: “Attention One Earth shoppers, the driver of the SUV is in aisle four. He’s wearing the baseball cap.”

The New York Times television critic disapproves. The show “feels aggressively off-kilter with the current mood, as if it had been incubated in the early to mid-’90s, when it was possible to find global-warming skeptics among even the reasonable and informed.”

That is a perfect (because completely complacent) sample of the grating smugness of the planet-savers, delivered by an entertainment writer: Reasonable dissent is impossible. Cue the pianos.

“The Goode Family” does not threaten Jonathan Swift’s standing as the premier English-language satirist. But when a Goode child apologizes to his parent for driving too much, and the parent responds, “It’s OK … what’s important is that you feel guilty about it,” the program touches upon an important phenomenon: ecology as psychology.

In “The Green Bubble: Why Environmentalism Keeps Imploding” (The New Republic, May 20), Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, authors of “Break Through: Why We Can’t Leave Saving the Planet to Environmentalists,” say that a few years ago, being green “moved beyond politics.”

Gestures – bringing reusable grocery bags to the store, purchasing a $4 heirloom tomato, inflating tires, weatherizing windows — “gained fresh urgency” and “were suddenly infused with grand significance.”

Green consumption became “positional consumption” that identified the consumer as a member of a moral and intellectual elite. A 2007 survey found that 57 percent of Prius purchasers said they bought their car because “it makes a statement about me.”

Honda, alert to the bull market in status effects, reshaped its 2009 Insight hybrid to look like a Prius. Nordhaus and Shellenberger note the telling “insignificance,” as environmental measures, of planting gardens or using fluorescent bulbs.

Their significance is therapeutic, but not for the planet. They make people feel better: “After all, we can’t escape the fact that we depend on an infrastructure – roads, buildings, sewage systems, power plants, electrical grids, etc. – that requires huge quantities of fossil fuels.

But the ecological irrelevance of these practices was beside the point.”

The point of “utopian environmentalism” was to reduce guilt. During the green bubble, many Americans became “captivated by the twin thoughts that human civilization could soon come crashing down – and that we are on the cusp of a sudden leap forward in consciousness, one that will allow us to heal ourselves, our society, and our planet. Apocalyptic fears meld seamlessly into utopian hopes.”

Suddenly, commonplace acts – e.g., buying light bulbs – infused pedestrian lives with cosmic importance. But: “Greens often note that the changing global climate will have the greatest impact on the world’s poor; they neglect to mention that the poor also have the most to gain from development fueled by cheap fossil fuels like coal. For the poor, the climate is already dangerous.”

Now, say Nordhaus and Shellenberger, “the green bubble” has burst, pricked by Americans’ intensified reluctance to pursue greenness at a cost to economic growth. The dark side of utopianism is “escapism and a disengagement from reality that marks all bubbles, green or financial.”

Re-engagement with reality is among the recession’s benefits.

George Will’s e-mail address is

Read the complete column at the Morning Sun


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Yes, the ridicule is richening. About time, too.

Just Want Results...

(”Support our troops … and their opponents”).
Perfect! Gave me a great laugh!!!

Just Want Results...

“Let us enjoy our lives!”

Frederick Michael

Will missed the best point though. When people say that the changing climate will have the greatest impact on the world’s poor, they usually omit that the impact will be positive — all by itself, even before you factor in economics.
Who would deny that increased CO2 will directly increase agricultural output? If the globe also warms, that will extend the growing season in huge regions of the world (e.g. Russia & Canada), leading to further increases in agricultural output.
If someone asks you, “Do you think increased CO2 will increase global temperature?” the correct response is, “I hope so.”

Bill P

There once was an Indianapolis concert featuring 50 pianos. Splendid instruments, pianos. Still, 50 might have been excessive

At least six good chords there, I’d wager.

Mark Wagner

Is it me, or are we beginning to see cracks in the foundation of AGW?
As cooling…er…uhm…”nonwarming”… continues, sooner or later they’re gonna have to face facts: we’re not warming according to theory.
It’ll take a while for the upper echelons to crumble, but more and more I’m seeing some media questioning AGW beliefs.

Greg Cavanagh

I’m surprised any television station had the gumption to actually air such a comic strip.

Bill P

Re: “…six good chords…”: Make that cords.
And a heap o’ good bailin’ wire beside!

Evan Jones

I liked the one about students getting tenure.
Sad in a way, though, that laughing at one’s opponents is usually the best way to win the political argument.

Leon Brozyna

When the going gets tough, fantasies die on the vine, except in the minds of folk such as those like the NYT TV critic.

…”early to mid-’90s, when it was possible to find global-warming skeptics among even the reasonable and informed.”
I guess he missed the NIPCC conference.

David Walton

I love George Will. I may start wearing bow ties in his honor.


George Will is a condescending pseudo-conservative elitist, and I generally avoid his op-ed’s, especially after his tirade against jeans (I haven’t worn jeans myself since I was 5, but I still found him petty and childish). That said, I did read this one, and it makes me want to get cable just so I can watch that cartoon. I guess I should give him another chance.


I’d guess Gottschalk gathered greater groupings of grand pianists.

Keith Minto

” Greg Cavanagh (19:52:21) :
I’m surprised any television station had the gumption to actually air such a comic strip.”
I agree and it isn’t even on the Fox network. This is very clever satire.
The comment about the boy apologising about driving too much and the mother saying “It’s OK ,what’s important is that you feel guilty about it” is right on the mark.
Reminds me of a segment I saw on a business channel this morning, set in Japan, buyers were purchasing Prius’ because it improved their image…..for goodness sake!
I believe that incandescent globes were stopped from being imported into Australia last November and will be banned from sale from this November.
This nonsense really makes me angry.


The first episode of the Goode Family was most entertaining, but the next two were painful. The writers couldn’t come close to maintaining the same level of wit and clever spoofing. Big disappointment.


” …. when it was possible to find global-warming skeptics among even the reasonable and informed.”
I presume that this means those who only read press releases and a reporters opinion. I look at the science papers themselves and ask myself, how does this fit in with the historical body of evidence ?. Far too many of the ‘disasters” awaiting us are puffed up opinion pieces. When I see headlines warning of vast increases of tropical diseases, I ask, what is the current spread, what are the vectors and what is the historical record. In 1793, 5000 Philadelphians died of Yellow Fever, more than 10% of population. The next summer yellow fever returned, but not as severely, and also in 1796 and 1797. Another severe epidemic came in 1798, killing 1292 Philadelphians.
Whats new ?.


The world’s human population has exploded in my lifetime, I was born late in the first third of the last century. It might be possible that there is a fixed number of souls for this planet and that number is nowhere near enough to cover six thousand millions plus. Therefore many people are hollow, born without souls, and doomed to spend their lives trying to fill that void with externally applied symbols of wholeness. Remember the healing power of crystals? It is sad to think of all those neglected crystals, gathering dust in the back of the bottom bureau drawer while the hollow ones strive for the maximum in greenie points. In our favor is the media’s flogging the moribund green horse to death. It won’t be long before a large percentage of the population comes to remember that green is the color of bovine semi-solid body waste.


I heard a claim on FoxNews that Al Gore made $100 million


Yes, George Will has done it again.
“I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down an AGW cherry tree”.

Just Want Results...

A rabbi walks in to a bar…… and says we’re not all going to die :


Now then, I wonder who has done the math on global cooling. The big deal that AGW makes is rising oceans. What about the opposite: Falling oceans?
Less navigable ports and waterways (and fewer deep-water ports), high-centered Suez & Panama canals, new epoch of river-cutting, etc.
Okay. We’re not going to broil & drown. Now what?
Do Gore & Hansen go back to Impending Ice Age?
What’s the sad-eyed image now: Save the Freezing Camels?
Run for your lives, the Glaciers are coming.
Desert property at a premium.
Palm trees are good for America.

…laughter is the best medicine, and satire a very potent weapon.
The dour, and ever so serious green/left can’t laugh…but ridicule of their fantasies is a tonic to all their opponents.
Great !

Tim F

I saw part of that show–I thought it was pretty funny.

Mike Abbott

Great article. Thanks for posting it. For those interested in the New Republic article Mr. Will quotes from, see:

John F. Hultquist

Graphic by Anthony —- Great idea. Good job!
Some of the comments here and on other posts, especially the previous NASA/solar variation one, indicate smarts, humor, and irony.
What a good package.

Evan Jones

It might be possible that there is a fixed number of souls for this planet and that number is nowhere near enough to cover six thousand millions plus. Therefore many people are hollow, born without souls, and doomed to spend their lives trying to fill that void with externally applied symbols of wholeness.
Ack! Er, I must beg to disagree. The planet supports a far greater percentage of people at what would have been considered died-and-gone-to-heaven standards. Sure we did the crystal thing (and worse). But in the 1800s it was considered a tempting deal to sell one’s soul to the devil for 7 years of “good conditions” (“good conditions” that would cause a riot in any modern prison), followed by eternal damnation.
We could support 3 times as many with more elbow room than we have today. Resources are virtually limitless.
I don’t think working 14 hours a day and living in unthinkably overcrowded conditions (standard for 19th century) was any better than whatever “problems of affluence” we have today.


Speaking of “ecology as psychology,” here is an item on “Impure thoughts about sea level rise.</b.

John F. Hultquist

evanmjones, I think you missed the point about “souls”
Try reading @ mr.artday (21:04:58) again, slowly.

Evan Jones

Run for your lives, the Glaciers are coming.
Well, during the LIA, they tried prayer. (After a few hundred years they were answered.)

Evan Jones

I don’t think our souls are “stretched” John. I think we have “problems of affluence”. I don’t think souls are any better off when they are subject to the problems of near-universal poverty (and throw in a very short life expectancy). In fact, under the latter condition, I think they are greatly more sinful.
I’ll take modernity of life and soul any day.

Allan M R MacRae

Here in the West we are freezing our Royal Canadian butts off.
Temperatures are projected to drop below freezing this weekend, and it is bloody well June! Let’s hope our gardens and crops survive.
There are no words strong enough to express our deep disappointment with this LACK of global warming. This winter has been SO long and SOOO cold!
It is truly regrettable that increased atmospheric CO2 does NOT cause significant global warming. If it did, by now most Canadians would run out and buy an even bigger SUV! I’d drive a Greyhound bus if it would help.
I suppose burning warmists at the stake would be a bit extreme, and is unsupported by climate science, but at least we could all huddle around the bonfire to get warm.
Drop another chunk of coal on the fire please luv, and join me under the blankets. And bring some nice hot tea – two lumps luv, with lemon. Ta!

Dave Wendt

The carbon footprint of the average American amounts to 1/300,000,000th of 1/4 of an inch on a line 10 kilometers long, even using the inflated estimates of the IPCC, and not allowing for the upward drag on the average provided by Algore and his sycophants jetting about in their Gulfstreams, to meetings where they discuss new ways to punish the rest of us for having the temerity to still be alive. Even if we could achieve the impossible and completely eliminate the entire CO2 output of the entire country, it would still be only 1/4 inch on that 10K line. Fuel efficient cars, energy efficient buildings, and many other environmentally friendly actions can be justified for for many reasons, but to contend that they will meaningfully affect the climate in any way that will even be perceptible by people a hundred years from now is complete lunacy. To suggest that we must all be compelled to surrender large parts of our personal liberty and future economic prospects to embrace these idiotic feel good notions is criminally psychotic insanity.

Allan M R MacRae (22:41:23)
Re cold in the West, I agree.
We are to have 5 to 7 inches of SNOW on Friday June 5 in the northern Sierras centered on Lake Tahoe. While not totally unprecedented, it is quite rare from what I read.
One would think these kind of events would not occur as the CO2 causes the globe to grow ever warmer. Who ya gonna believe, the computer models or your lying eyes and that snowball that just smacked you in the ribs?
see Update 4 here:

Keith Minto (21:00:53) wrote: “I believe that incandescent globes were stopped from being imported into Australia last November and will be banned from sale from this November.”
I am trying very hard to believe this is not really happening, Keith, as, aside from infuriating me, it instils a feeling of despair that it really is possible to undo the great… no, the magnificent accomplishments of mankind in removing the harsh realities of man in the early eons of evolution to the dignity and comfort our forefathers set out to hack from the wilderness.
Why this dedication to guilt for progress where once, I believe, there would have been elation? Will the sour inherit the earth? The mindset of so many today runs counter to stories such as the guy who packed his family into the T-model Ford and set out on a journey across America just so he and his family could see some scientific exhibition.
I am sure there would be similar stories from here in Australia, and in countries all over the world, too, as people grasped with awe and respect the inventions and concepts for an even better world and better and more productive lives. I am glad my own father felt that way. I hope my four see their father that way; and I hope my grandchildren are already beginning to see me that way, young as they are.


evan, I think he’s referring to an old idea or rumor or whatever it’s called that says there are only a set number of human souls. I remember reading Dr. Lobsang Rampa’s books (a Tibetan Monk) who mentioned this a few times.
However, currently (so the idea goes) there are more people than there are souls available. As a result, there are an increasing number of people wandering around without a soul.
I bet I could name some names (if this was true). Some of them might be lawyers or investment bankers. Who knows?

John F. Hultquist

Maybe he means there are x bodies (physical) and fewer y souls (spiritual) and the former without the latter are not ____fill in the blank____.


Just Want Results… (21:36:10) :
A rabbi walks in to a bar…… and says we’re not all going to die :

But we all are going to die … eventually.
Death is not mean, cruel or unfair, only highly efficient.

Lindsay H.

The cracks are appearing in the marketing campaigns linked to “Greenness” over here too, sales of “Organic” foods are falling as people start to feel the pinch over the economy.
If you read the statements of James Hansen, about politicians not really doing anything about AGW, it appears that the proponents are finally begining to realise, that it’s not being reguarded in political circles as a real problem.
They’ve not, yet, twigged that it’s being used primarily as a reasons to tax us more.
The real start of its demise, will come when a major political party breaks ranks.
This, however, I don’t expect to occur in the near future, they’re all in the same boat, with seruious National Debts to finance, so need those tax revenues even more.

Reinhard Bösch

“The point of utopian environtalism is to reduce guilt”. True. Being a furrier I have been dealing with this truth for my entire professional life. And I`m sure,that even on this blog,there are lots of guys who try to diminsh their guilt of driving big cars,flying intercontinental,eating lots of animals,or doing hundreds of other things by NOT wearing fur. Yes of course,there are explanations for this,but hardly reasonable ones.
My point is: Hardly anybody will change his views confronted with rational arguments. Emotions will prevail. Therefore,being a rationalist,one will always be in the minority. Good humour and a long breath to everybody on this blog!
Sorry for my poor English
Reinhard Bösch

South Park did an episode about smug preachy Prius owners a couple of years ago (the car model was called “Pious” in the show) – so it’s not just the Goode family.
OT – Hurray – we finally had some “global” warming here in Seattle – two days of hot weather – while Miami was in the cool 80s we had 91 (and a new record for the June 4 date)! The Kuroshio Current must have gushed across the Pacific!

Frank Lansner

More trouble for the Green bubble: RSS down from 0,20 to 0,09 from april to may:


You Yanks b/do/b have a sense of humour (even if you can’t spell it!) Brilliant stuff – I don’t suppose the BBC will buy it, though.


How do you make bold characters? I suppose I’m going to have to learn how to use HTML.

UK Sceptic

Would some warmist who agrees that AGW promotes the spread of disease and death please explain how plague flourished in Europe during the Little Ice Age?
A reasonable and informed sceptic would like to know…

Pierre Gosselin

AIR FRANCE 447 crash due to climate change?
I guess it was inevitable…
This is the question posed by Germany’s biggest tabloid.
h/t Dirk Maxeiner

Pierre Gosselin

George Will hits it squarely on the nail.
Thanks for posting this.
I sent the link to my hopelessly green fundamentalist friend, hoping he’ll someday wake up a realise what a duped fool he’s been all these years.
Three cheers for Mike Judge as well.
Sometimes a simple cartoon or a song is what it takes to tip it all over.

Pierre Gosselin

Linsay H,
I read Spencer’s link you provide and found it to be excellent.
Your English is fine! Don’t worry about it.


Pierre Gosselin (02:03:44) :
AIR FRANCE 447 crash due to climate change?

They have no shame.