Crank of the Week - June 7, 2010 - Ted Turner

In a multi-part interview with CNN Newsroom anchor Fredricka Whitfield, Ted Turner spoke about his own devotion and dedication to environmental causes. “I've been cutting the lights out for a long time,” stated the CNN founder. Turner went on to claim that, if people don't chose to do the right thing, mankind will soon suffer the consequences. Known for bombastic statements during his youth, the “Mouth of the South” now says the climate change induced threat to humanity has risen from cannibalism to extinction.

Some people just will not slip gracefully into history and Ted Turner is one of them. The former America's Cup yachtsman and owner of the Atlanta Braves baseball team has often been in the limelight, and often for saying stupid things. Consistent to the end, he has again gone on record regarding his great concern for the environment. A couple of years back, Turner made the news when he predicted that climate change would lead to widespread cannibalism. In an interview with PBS he said this about not taking drastic action to correct global warming:

“Not doing it will be catastrophic. We’ll be eight degrees hotter in ten, not ten but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals. Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state—like Somalia or Sudan—and living conditions will be intolerable. The droughts will be so bad there’ll be no more corn grown. Not doing it is suicide.”

Now it seems, Captain Outrageous is at it again, this time predicting that H. sapiens faces extinction if we don't start turning out lights. In a rambling interview with CNN—perhaps the only news organization the will interview him these days—Turner said he had been turning out lights for “30 years.”

“So how do you convince people, what would you say to those who say, you know what, the way I'm living right now is just fine,” said Ms. Whitfield, feeding the old boy a slow easy pitch.

“Anybody that watches CNN would know pretty well,” Turner replied. “They would already be convinced, because we've run thousands of stories about it, everything from light bulbs to saving fuel and automobiles to recycling. It's everywhere.” Note that he still uses the imperial “we” when talking about CNN.

Here is a segment of the interview on video:

For those who had trouble following Ted's rambling, mumbled replies here is the text of his central point:

It's a combination of things. There's reluctance on some people's part to cope with change very well, and want things to stay the way they were.

And really what we really have is a choice whether we want to do the right things from an energy standpoint or the wrong thing. And it's our choice.

And if enough of us choose to do the wrong thing and we don't prepare for global warming and we don't make the changes that we know we should make, then we'll be extinct. And when that happens, we'll be sorry, but it will be too late. And I'm trying to avoid that by getting the people to take action now while there's still time.

We are not exactly sure how we will be sorry after we become extinct, but the statement does show that Turner is not fully in touch with reality. Even if temperatures on Earth were to rise by 4 or 5°C, toward the upper end of the IPCC gestimations, life would not end. Humanity may be inconvenienced, but the end is definitely not nigh. What is endangered is that thankfully rare creature, the hard-drinking, self-promoting loud-mouth from the American South. So, in honor of a dying breed, this Crank of the Week is for you—Ted “The Environmentalist” Turner.

From better days

Here is a Sports Illustrated cover of Ted from better days...