“Probably,” Kenner said. “I’m sure that explains it. But then, everybody’s paid by somebody. Who pays your salary?”
“My law firm.”
“And who pays them?”
“The clients. We have several hundred clients.”
“You do work for all of them?”
“Me, personally? No.”
“In fact, you do most of your work for environmental clients,” Kenner said. “Isn’t that true?”
“Would it be fair to say that the environmental clients pay your salary?” Kenner said.
“You could make that argument.”
“I’m just asking, Peter. Would it be fair to say environmentalists pay your salary?”
“Okay. Then would it be fair to say the opinions you hold are because you work for environmentalists?”
“Of course not—”
“You mean you’re not a paid flunky for the environmental movement?”
“No. The fact is—”
“You’re not an environmental stooge? A mouthpiece for a great fund-raising and media machine—a multi-billion-dollar industry in its own right—with its own private agenda that’s not necessarily in the public interest?”
“God damn it—”
“Is this pissing you off?” Kenner said.
“You’re damn right it is!”
“Good,” Kenner said. “Now you know how legitimate scientists feel when their integrity is impugned by slimy characterizations such as the one you just made. Sanjong and I gave you a careful, peer-reviewed interpretation of data. Made by several groups of scientists from several different countries. And your response was first to ignore it, and then to make an ad hominem attack. You didn’t answer the data. You didn’t provide counter evidence. You just smeared with innuendo.”
The first atmosphere was helium and hydrogen. It dissipated early on, because the planet was so hot. Then, as the planet cooled, volcanic eruptions produced a second atmosphere of steam and carbon dioxide. Later the water vapor condensed, forming the oceans that cover most of the planet. Then, around three billion years ago, some bacteria evolved to consume carbon dioxide and excrete a highly toxic gas, oxygen. Other bacteria released nitrogen. The atmospheric concentration of these gases slowly increased. Organisms that could not adapt died out.
Meanwhile, the planet's land masses, floating on huge tectonic plates, eventually came together in a configuration that interfered with the circulation of ocean currents. It began to get cold for the first time. The first ice appeared two billion years ago.
And for the last seven hundred thousand years, our planet has been in a geological ice age, characterized by advancing and retreating glacial ice. No one is entirely sure why, but ice now covers the planet every hundred thousand years, with smaller advances every twenty thousand or so. The last advance was twenty thousand years ago, so we're due for the next one.
And even today, after five billion years, our planet remains amazingly active. We have five hundred volcanoes, and an eruption every two weeks. Earthquakes are continuous: a million and a half a year, a moderate Richter 5 quake every six hours, a big earthquake every ten days. Tsunamis race across the Pacific Ocean every three months.
Our atmosphere is as violent as the land beneath it. At any moment there are one thousand five hundred electrical storms across the planet. Eleven lightning bolts strike the ground each second. A tornado tears across the surface every six hours. And every four days, a giant cyclonic storm, hundreds of miles in diameter, spins over the ocean and wreaks havoc on the land.
The nasty little apes that call themselves human beings can do nothing except run and hide. For these same apes to imagine they can stabilize this atmosphere is arrogant beyond belief. They can't control the climate.
The reality is, they run from the storms.