Speaking Chinese

April 17, 2010

The recent tragedy in West Virginia has thrust Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy, into the spotlight, which knocked loose a memory of his interview on Marketplace, broadcast on October 29, 2009. His broad declaration, “There is no global warming,” did not stick with me, not as much as what he said next, when asked what would happen if we start to tax coal emissions:

“Teach your children to speak Chinese, because if we’re going to play around with windmills and solar panels, we’ll fall behind.”

That’s some good fear-mongering. Seriously, he could be an adviser on the remake of Red Dawn. He debunks science with a linguistics argument, which is really a subtle reference to a popular global-warming conspiracy that falls under the rubric of larger “one-world government” fears. Because the claimed environmental damages from Blankenship’s industry are so “greatly exaggerated,” there’s no need to make actual arguments against them, right? Unless of course one’s opponents are arguing in Chinese.

I used his dribble as inspiration for the actions of Ardo Reslo in “Year of the Turtle” – and I had intended to mention that interview when I first added the story (since I am all about idea genealogy). But I forgot to write that blog, probably because I didn’t really picture Blankenship as Ardo Reslo, who seems to be smarter than his prototype, more of a Bond-type villain such as Dr. No at the head of another conspiracy theory, this one of the Dr. Strangelove variety.

And for those of you keeping count, that’s my second reference, however indirect, to Terry Southern.

Teach your children to speak Chinese, because if we’re going to play around with windmills and solar panels, we’ll fall behind.

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