Finding someone to blame: Identifying the ‘nth level cause’ of climate change

by   Posted on April 5th, 2010 in Opinion

By Bradon T. Minister, Staff Writer

Who was the first human to discover cause-and-effect relationships, and how quickly did his peers kill him for his heresy?

Until this mysterious human — let’s call him Roger Cavemanson — came along, every action in the world was clearly the work of a capricious god, or possibly a group of such gods. Cavemanson was the first to propose otherwise. For his troubles, he was rewarded with an early grave in a bog.

Since then, cause-and-effect has become more fashionable. Five hundred years ago, a bunch of northern Italians laid the foundation for our modern decadent society by basing all learning on the principle.

Now, instead of looking for the primary cause of an event, we now look for the nth-level cause — as long as that nth-level cause is something we hate. Thus, someone is not overweight because he happened to consume more calories than he burned, he’s overweight because of Wal-Mart pricing or McDonald’s management politics.

The further away we can push the cause, the more peace of mind we have. If I don’t earn enough money and it’s all my fault, I could feel bad about that. If I can instead blame it on Congress, I’m not as responsible. But don’t I help elect Congress? Better to push the responsibility offshore, blaming Chinese investors. I mean, what am I supposed to do about Chinese investors, right?

In a study entitled “Vehicle Emissions During Children’s School Commuting: Impacts of Education Policy,” scientists from the University of Minnesota, along with a colleague from the University of North Carolina, find a new cause for climate change: elementary school choice.

“We find that eliminating district-wide school choice (i.e., returning to a system with neighborhood schools only) would have significant impacts on transport modes and emissions,” they write. If only those jerk children would be satisfied with their sub-standard neighborhood schools, I wouldn’t have to spend five dollars on a light bulb.

Of course, the authors point out that school choice is a component of the No Child Left Behind Act, which was the work of George W. Bush. Finally, the nth level has been found.

Bush gave families school choice, but did he give them failing neighborhood schools? I don’t understand why the authors don’t pin the blame on mandatory education. After all, if we didn’t make these children go to school at all, how much less of a commuting impact would there be?

And what about the children themselves? I have three children, and (as far as I know) George W. Bush isn’t the father of any of them. It seems the real culprit in climate change has been here all along, right under our noses: testicles.

If climate change has a man-made component, that component is called China and India. Allowing half the world to opt out of climate change agreements and then policing American elementary school choice is not serious policy. It’s merely an attempt to kill something the authors don’t like, such as school choice, by pinning it to something most Americans have been driven to hysterics by, like climate change.

Once you look past the primary cause, it’s just a matter of choice where you declare the nth level to be. This study’s authors want to say it’s the No Child Left Behind Act. I prefer to say it’s the entrenched teachers’ unions who destroyed the neighborhood schools in the first place. If I can’t say they’re wrong, they have no business saying I’m wrong.

It turns out we’ve come full circle from Roger Cavemanson: instead of blaming the precipitous cause, we follow the path until we stop at the capricious god, or group of such gods, of our choice.



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