Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Environmental Bluster

And here I was, thinking I didn't have much to say about Tiger Woods, climate change, and the H1N1 "scare."

Well, I really don't have much more to say about Tiger Woods, mostly because I don't want to come across as a tabloid opportunist. His is a sad predicament about which noble outsiders would do well to refrain from clucking.

There's not much more to add about the H1N1 "scare," either, except that a friend of mine contracted a particularly potent strain during a business trip to China. He suffered a fever for eight days straight until it broke, but even a month after his "recovery," he's still struggling to recover his energy and stamina. In my best concerned tone, I advised him that the next time he travels to China, he bring back some souvenir chopsticks instead.

Global warming, on the other hand, is a topic that doesn't seem to elicit a significant amount of logic on either side. Consider these points:

1. Scientists say we've had a historic ice age before... what's to say a "tropic age" isn't part of that cycle?

2. If the earth does get warmer, how much of an increase in evaporation could occur? If evaporation of water from the earth's oceans were to increase, would that negate any concern for low-lying/coastal regions to be flooded?

3. Where do we stand with water desalinization technology? If the earth's oceans are to rise, what percentage of that increase can be siphoned off for irrigation and human consumption?

4. Despite our hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs to third-world countries, the US remains a significant industrial polluter; however, what about China, India, and other emerging industrial polluters who have far fewer emissions regulations - if any? Don't those countries realize that our companies have been sending overseas the work that creates too much pollution for North Americans to tolerate? Making plastics and pesticides didn't suddenly become clean industry by relocating to low-wage countries. And if companies thought they could skirt their environmental responsibilities by shifting production away from "educated" consumers, and dumping their pollution on people too desperate for jobs to think about their long-term health, then shame on them.

5. What about Brazil's storied deforestation of the Amazon rainforest? What about the primitive countries of Asia and Africa who rely on wood fires and whose cattle churn out piles of dung? Just because North America is an easy target in the environmental blame game, wouldn't fairness dictate a broader swath when it comes to any levying of sanctions?

6. Yesterday I mentioned the Cuyahoga River fire in Cleveland, an event which came to symbolize industrialization run amok. Many people blame the clean-up of the Cuyahoga and the stringent anti-pollution legislation which followed for the loss of jobs and economic development for Cleveland, and indeed the Rust Belt as a whole. However, isn't the real problem the fact that companies didn't want to consider non-polluting alternatives to waste disposal because they calculated the cost as too steep? What would have happened if industry had been allowed to continue dumping waste into the air and water? Who would have been able to live and work in those communities?

7. At what point does personal responsibility - the attribute so often regaled by Republicans - need to kick in? Are profits and jobs really worth more than good health? Should mankind really be able to squander natural resources in a twisted interpretation of "ruling and subduing the earth," as some people blithely quote the Bible passage? Or, as part of mankind's opportunity to extract resources for living from the earth, should we be sure to take only what is necessary, strive to replenish what we take when we can, and safeguard resources for future use? Wouldn't that be a more prudent, economically-viable, and long-term vision for "ruling and subduing" natural resources given to us?

8. What's wrong with admitting we don't know all the answers to why icebergs are shrinking and weather patterns don't fit our computer models? What's wrong with assuming that since we don't know all the answers, maybe liberal scientists are at least partially correct in saying industrialization is contributing to negative changes in our environment? Maybe the doomsday scenarios are fallacies, but where's the logic in denying the possibility that pumping chemicals into the atmosphere isn't hurting anything?

9. By the same token, why can't liberal environmentalists scientifically consider and rigorously test the valid challenges to their global warming research? Isn't science a discipline based on corroboration of evidence? Since we've been studying our climate with relative accuracy for only a hundred years or so, isn't that a statistically irrelevant timeframe when contemplating a universe much older than that?

10. Since when have prevention and proactivity become such nasty concepts to conservatives? If we're such an entrepreneurial country, where are the clever thinkers and tinkerers who are creating new economic opportunities for diverse responses to possible challenges? Where are the Henry Fords and Thomas Edisons of the 21st Century? How much of the climate change opposition is really simply a group of old fuddy-duddies who don't want their existing cash cows to have to change?

1 comment:

  1. I just want to know when my purple suede shoes from Zappos are supposed to arrive. That's all.


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