Here’s Something: ‘Boos and Bravos,’ global cooling edition

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Welcome to another edition of Boos and Bravos, where we try to criticize and praise in equal amounts:

Boo to the biased media, which rarely reports any news that might conflict with the theory of man-made global warming. Why have national news reports on this recent bitter cold snap failed to mention the potentially positive effects on global warming trends? Every time it’s 100 degrees the media is quick to run stories about climate change, but when it’s 0 degrees we hear nary a peep about how the cold weather could benefit both global temperature averages and the northward creep of invasive species.

Closer to home, Maine media should be reporting on whether the brutal conditions are killing off the wooly adelgid, emerald ash borer, green crab, deer tick, winter moth and other species that are threatening our area. Even a story in this Sunday’s newspaper seemed to downplay the prolonged cold spell’s positive effects regarding invasive species. Readers deserve to hear both sides of the story, even if it contradicts the science community’s supposedly expert consensus. But, sad to say, climate change is fait accompli, and nothing will deter the media from its precious narrative.

Speaking of global cooling …

Bravo to those making it through the harshest start to winter in a long, long time. It’s hard being a Mainer. It’s really tough. Removing snow, moving around in it, being cold and going without sun for several months takes its toll on the psyche and one’s energy levels. But, through it all, Maine’s many plow drivers, both private and public, are doing a great job beating back nature’s onslaught.

A belated boo to the renaming of Catherine McAuley High School in Portland, which is now called Maine Girls’ Academy. I drove by it this weekend and was struck by the dull name. The students, whose parents are shelling out $17,250 per school year, deserve a better name.

The former Catholic school had to change its name two years ago when it disassociated from the Sisters of Mercy. But did the trustees have to choose such a blah, unremarkable and forgettable new moniker as Maine Girls’ Academy? The only name more blah than that is Maine Boys’ Academy, which thankfully doesn’t exist, or Maine Girls’ School, which sounds like a reformatory.

I read a Portland Press Herald story regarding the 2016 name change and wished the trustees, who held a naming contest that garnered 400 entries, had instead chosen a name one of the students came up with: Lionheart Academy, which referenced the school’s lion mascot. A name referring to lionhearted young women is much more inspiring than one that merely references the students’ gender. Is it too late to change it again?

Boo to the generic stores and food offerings inside the Maine Turnpike’s rest areas. We now have Pennsylvania-based Hershey’s Ice Cream, which is just a cart that’s not even open in the winter. Then there’s Burger King, which can be found everywhere in America. There’s also Seattle-based Starbucks, which is similarly ubiquitous. The turnpike rest areas should feature local shops and restaurants.

Hershey’s should be replaced with Sanford-based Shain’s of Maine or Skowhegan-based Gifford’s Ice Cream. Starbucks should be replaced with Kingfield-based Carrabassett Coffee or Portland-based Coffee By Design. And Amato’s or one of Maine’s many lobster roll purveyors could replace Burger King. Maine is known for its local-food fervor, so the Maine Turnpike Authority should use its precious real estate to introduce the state’s millions of visitors to our best local food options.

Bravo to the American Dialect Society – which, interestingly enough, started the practice of choosing a word of the year back in 1990 – for getting it right when it picked “fake news” as 2017’s Word of the Year. How many times did we hear that term last year? Too many times. Of course it was made famous by President Donald Trump, and repeated to the point of regurgitation by everyone else.

The word of the year has become a fun end-of-year tradition for word nerds. There are many organizations that have joined the etymological fun since 1990, and their choices usually reflect what took place in the culture that year. The Oxford English Dictionary chose “youthquake” for 2017’s word of the year, which it defined as “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.” Merriam-Webster chose “feminism” as its word of the year. And chose “complicit,” whose popularity spiked after actress Scarlet Johansson portrayed Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, in a Saturday Night Live skit touting a fake fragrance called Complicit.

I wonder what 2018’s word will be. “Impeachment?”

John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.

  • Just Sayin’

    Mr. Ballentine shows such a stunning lack of understanding about how the climate operates that it makes my head hurt.

    When we are exceptionally cold here in Maine, we are not doing anything to “Benefit global temperature averages.” We are not -generating- cold here for the benefit of the world. We’re cold here because a portion of the global thermal energy has shifted elsewhere and we’re left without. In this case we had it shifting over one of the poles and bringing permafrost-thawing warmth there while we all suffered through extended sub zero temps. No energy is gained or lost on a global sense from this, it’s simply moved about.

    Climate change refers to an increase in atmospheric energy worldwide, which means more intense weather and less predictable weather patterns. It does NOT mean an end to cold days everywhere. Shifting climate patterns will make some areas colder for the foreseeable future, other places warmer, and increase the amount of intense and violent weather about the globe. It’s nothing to celebrate or feel proud of.

    And while the cold may be helping to kill off invasive species, species are invasive often because they’re particularly hardy and thrive well, so if it’s killing off invasive species, it’s likely to be killing off a great deal of noninvasive ones as well. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    • Ted Markow

      “Mr. Ballentine shows such a stunning lack of understanding about how the climate operates that it makes my head hurt.”

      It’s called willful ignorance and you may as well be talking to a wall.

      At this point, I would also call it ecocidal – and ignorance is no longer an excuse.

      • Just Sayin’

        I’m not trying to change Mr. Ballentine’s mind. He’s made his bias very clear. But he’s not the only one I’ve seen who don’t understand the global nature of climate.

        I want to make sure his readers don’t buy into the bizarre notion he has that when it’s cold in Maine, that we’re somehow cooling down the global average temperature. Maine is not an AC for the world, any time we get this cold here (Or anyplace gets extra cold around the globe) it’s only because the heat energy has shifted to another location.

        I’m sure this is common knowledge to a lot of folk, but I can’t sit back while trolls like Ballentine try to spread misinformation for political reasons.

        • Queenie42

          It reached 116 degrees in Australia a few days ago. Ballentine didn’t mention that because it would have screwed up his screwed up theory. Weather is NOT climate and I thank you for trying to advance science. We see so little of it nowadays.

  • Ted Markow

    I have a good friend who used to be the editor of a local paper. He knew his stuff and at times functioned (as editors should) as moderator so that blatant mistruths didn’t make their way into the paper. If someone, even a letter writer, wrote something that was blatantly false, my friend would call the person and check out what they really meant. If the letter writer stuck with their story, and it was blatantly false, their letter would most likely not make it into the paper.

    Part of an editor’s job is to check the facts of pieces before they are published. I get it that Mr. Ballentine is writing “his” “opinion,” but it seems to me that there should be a line between honest opinion and blatant mistruths, as appears in this piece.

    As I write this, southern California is suffering the effects of killer mudslides, which were the result of massive killer wildfires, which were the effect of years of drought, which were the effect of… And while there certainly is a difference between “weather” and “climate,” historical records around the globe (part of the “hard-to-understand” part of Global Warming) show that the globe is rapidly warming. That does not mean looking outside one’s back window and determining the climate for the entire world based on weather observations on one particular day.

    The world seems to be in a precarious place on many fronts, however, none of them are more serious and potentially catastrophic than Global Warming. Allowing someone to write specious “opinion” pieces about such serious issues makes me wonder why there is such a wide divergence in what editors think their jobs are.

    Finally, surely The Forecaster can find a responsible conservative opinion writer. I like reading different opinions…when they are sincere.

  • Chew H Bird

    While everyone is free to have an opinion, it is shame when ignorance of facts are published. Global warming is based on trends over extended periods of time and while there may be some merit to an argument that temperature check points are not situated to provide a total picture, or that the sample size is too small, the fact of a warming ocean temperature in areas the human population utilizes for food and study is a fairly compelling piece of evidence that climate is rising and we need to prepare ourselves for the consequences, regardless of the reasons or theories behind the change.