Eco-Unfriendly

The big winner in last night’s GOP presidential debate was, of course, none of the above.  The big loser was the planet we inhabit with those knuckleheads. Not surprisingly, the all-Fox panel of interrogators didn’t pose a single question about the environment.  And, with one exception, none of the candidates had anything to say about the subject.

The exception was Jon Huntsman, the whiny and lethargic former governor of Utah and Obama ambassador to China, who referred…not once but twice…to an “EPA reign of terror.” Mr. Huntsman didn’t offer any specifics, but made it clear that the one of the major obstacles standing between our country and longterm economic prosperity is the pollution agency’s heavy-handed, soul-destroying, business-drowning regulatory oversight of…well, again, he didn’t really say. But let’s give him full marks for going all in.

Apparently, it’s republican gospel that a healthy economy is fundamentally incompatible with clean air and water, inconsistent with the careful licensing of pesticides, and forever at odds with any attempt to limit the production of greenhouse gases that have already set in motion catastrophic climate change. Well, it’s their religion and they are welcome to it.

But put me down as doubtful that EPA actions can be fairly called a “reign of terror.” Just over four decades old…the EPA was established by President Nixon in 1970 after his administration conducted a lengthy review of federal policy on environmental matters…the agency has a checkered history. In the early days it aggressively cancelled a number of dangerous pesticides. But eventually the chemical companies…who are responsible for the safety testing of their own products…learned how to game the system. Potentially dangerous products can remain on the market for years as the EPA reviews study after study.  And the agency now confronts a whole new category of safety concerns over compounds that mimic or interfere with hormones. The EPA has developed new assays for such effects, but it has been slow going and will likely remain so.

As for the idea that the agency will one day begin to regulate greenhouse gases…we’ll have to be patient. Very patient. Republicans in congress have proposed legislation to block any such regulation…again operating on an article of faith that global warming is either a hoax or something that would cost too much to do anything about.

So if you have a concern for good old planet Earth, President Obama must be your man. Because unlike the republicans, he is deeply committed to protecting the environment. Just look at everything he’s done for it during his first term. You have to look hard, I’ll admit. Okay, really really hard. You’ve gotta try. Go ahead. Try.

34 Responses

  1. One of the biggest man-made environmental (and economic) disasters going – ethanol production – is vigorously defended by Democrats. Yet there’s a lot of sanctimony by the left.

    • As a native of ethanol country — western Minnesota — I can assure you, Newt, the “economic disaster” of bio-fuels has provided a rare and beneficial alternative market for corn growers. That said, I don’t see corn as the ideal fuel source even 10 years from now. But what it has done – a bit like “Obamacare” — is to put the bio-fuels industry on the tracks and set it rolling, to the point that it has proved its viability as a new industry and can be modulated as needed.

      Not that you wanted to know any of that.

  2. HoooYah!!!

    Bachmann for President!!!!!

  3. Remember those thrilling days of yesteryear when McCain/Palin ran on cap and trade?

  4. A recent resignation letter to American Physical Society…

    Dear Ms. Kirby

    Thank you for your letter inquiring about my membership. I did not renew it because I can not live with the statement below:

    Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.
The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.
If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

    In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible? The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.

    Best regards,

    Ivar Giaever

    Nobel Laureate 1973

    • He’s obviously a contemporary of Rick Perry’s. And therefore dumb.

      • This is over Newt’s head. But I think you, Erik, will find merit in the piece: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/17/the-nobel-divide-and-the-climate-divide/

      • Yes interesting. Its almost as if people will have biases, and they’ll seek out information and assets to confirm those biases. We ought to come up with a snappy catchphrase to describe that phenomena.

      • Perry seems to agree that he (Perry) is dumb. And Republicans seems to revel in their dumb candidates.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/gop-should-not-fall-into-the-trap-of-being-proudly-ignorant/2011/03/29/gIQA1glFSK_blog.html?wprss=right-turn

        If you want intelligent candidates, it helps to have a party that actually values intelligence.

      • One difference there, Erik: both these articles are written by conservatives. It isn’t surprising that one conservative doesn’t like Obama (dog bites man). When conservatives start criticizing their own party for anti-intellectual tendencies, then it is news (man bites dog).

        Interesting that you would resort to a false equivalence argument. Does that means that you are really a pointy headed librul? Should we expect false consciousness next?

      • Pardon me. I probably just enjoy that one more stylistically. Westen puts his finger on it. He’s not all that impressive. Thus you don’t have a the contrast you think you have.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/opinion/sunday/what-happened-to-obamas-passion.html?pagewanted=all

      • Interesting, Erik.

        So, you corrected the one issue–Westen is certainly a liberal. But you failed on the other. Westen does not support your larger point–he is not saying that Obama is stupid, as your earlier piece from the WSJ argued. So, frankly, you continue to make false equivalence arguments.

        Perhaps even more interesting is that you think that Westen “puts his finger on it”. Westen is arguing that Obama is not sufficiently partisan, that Obama is too interested in compromise, that he is not telling the real story (that this is all the fault of the republicans), that Obama is too much of a centrist. none of that agrees with the usual republican boiler plate–that Obama is a socialist, radical, Kenyan, and it is all his fault, he is expanding government more than anyone since FDR, etc.

        What do YOU think, Erik? Do you agree with Westen about Obama, or do you just like anything that criticizes Obama, no matter from what direction?

      • This is the most important quote of the Westen article:

        “A second possibility is that he is simply not up to the task by virtue of his lack of experience and a character defect that might not have been so debilitating at some other time in history. Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence on the campaign trail chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography: that he had accomplished very little before he ran for president, having never run a business or a state; that he had a singularly unremarkable career as a law professor, publishing nothing in 12 years at the University of Chicago other than an autobiography; and that, before joining the United States Senate, he had voted “present” (instead of “yea” or “nay”) 130 times, sometimes dodging difficult issues.”

        Three things:

        I think the President is a man of ‘average’, above average intelligence, which is a fact in contradiction of the liberal hagiography for his brilliance.

        I think Rick Perry is also a man of ‘average’, above average intelligence, no less smart than the President. Parsing the difference is probably a hair splitting exercise at best.

        I think liberals engage in a lot of undue self-flattery for their own intelligence, and that this enabled by a bogus false conscious argument that calls conservative voters stupid.

  5. Finding an occasional voice of dissent doesn’t alter a broad scientific consensus…and being a Nobel Laureate isn’t a guarantee of anything. Paul Muller won a Nobel for discovering DDT and William Shockley got one for inventing the transistor before turning his attention to the benefits of eugenics.

    • And Paul Krugman worked for Enron.

      • Erik, re: Krugman’s “working” for Enron, make an effort: http://www.pkarchive.org/personal/EnronFAQ.html

      • Perfectly good explanation by him of rather innocuous work. But it doesn’t absolve him.

        The common slur against the ‘denial’ scientists is that they’re bought off. Enron was looking to buy credibility, and Krugman was perfectly willing to be their whore.

      • It doesn’t? Why not? Do you allege he knew Enron was cooking the books and stayed mum, or, worse, was in some aiding and abetting them. No, you admit what he did was innocuous. Erik, you’re flunking your own standards.

  6. More on the internal Republican debate about anti-intellectualism in their ranks….

    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/09/rick-perry-doubles-down-ctd.html

  7. I am struck by this paragraph in Glaevar’s resignation letter:

    “The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.”

    How utterly defeating for a global warmist to read this. It explains their emotional and hate-filled response to Glaevar’s calm, rational and fact-based refutation of their religion.

    P.S. The “if true” qualifier is particularly disconcerting to liberal orthodoxy.

  8. I agree with this comment, from a real conservative. Today’s republican party is not conservative, but rather a radical right party.

    http://pmcarpenter.blogs.com/p_m_carpenters_commentary/2011/09/a-cunning-fiction.html

    “So, to Mr. Krugman et al, please cease perpetuating the contradiction. Stop calling conservative pols what they are not: conservative. They are pseudoconservatives, they are reactionaries, they are radicals, and in some instances they are merely lunatics. But they are not conservative.

    If authentic conservatives be left, they would be today’s liberals, who struggle to conserve America’s sociopolitical traditions.”

  9. Newt’s assertion of a “liberal orthodoxy” in how progressives frame and argue the case for global warming is not baseless. There is an anti-corporate, anti-motorized vehicle, small-is-beautiful sensibility among some liberals (not all) that dovetails conveniently with the actions that would need to be undertaken to modify the current warming trend.

    But global warming also has a scientific underpinning. We have known for more than a half a century that ocean temps are warming. More recently, surface air temps over the past two decades include fourteen of the hottest years every recorded. The real concern, however, is about what the models show will happen over the balance of this century if the consumption of fossil fuels continues on its current trend.

    Meanwhile, when it comes to political orthodoxy, liberals aren’t in the same league as conservatives…who believe what they believe in spite of evidence to the contrary.

    • Al Gore over the years has been so wrong in his alarmist prognostications (wrong enough to change his ppt slide deck several times) that I am comforted that we never adopted any sweeping, knee-jerk climate policy programs.

      If we wait long enough, temps will drop again and the global warmists will be forced to go away, if only due to embarrassment.

      • “If we wait long enough…”? Oh, okay, thanks, Newt. Heat’s hell for wee amphibians, though.

      • They won’t do so well when the next ice age comes, either.

      • PM: I was mildly mocking Newt’s moniker, which I doubt he really means to refer to the subfamily Pleurodelinae of the family Salamandridae, as well as his blithely vague suggestion that we wait, or, rather, continue waiting, for temps to go down again, which curiously seems to acknowledge that they’ve gone up.

  10. In a similar vein:

    those who favor action to prevent global warming are the true conservatives, for they are seeking to preserve the biosphere as we have known it. Indeed, many so called liberals are, on ecological and conservation issues, profoundly conservative, harkening back to a “simpler” time (that may or may not have ever existed).

    • They are not conservatives. You’re playing a word game to make that case. You’re swapping the dictionary and / or the classical definition for the modern, practical definition. The purpose is apparently to glom onto those attributes of the word that are appealing and use them to instead flatter liberalism.

      Yes, the liberal granolas are the luddites… the conservatives are not the anti-science luddites. The granolas don’t like consumption. They use a scientific argument merely to argue for rolling back modernity. Their ideological kinship is to Pol Pot.

      • Oh, please…Have a nice lie down, Erik.

      • Erik:

        wow, you sure are sensitive to the semantics, aren’t you?

        this is especially interesting in that you are accusing “liberals” of doing what “conservatives” have already done–switching titles.

        Of course, Luddites were conservative–they objected to the impact of economic change on their lives. This is, of course, what modern “conservatives” do with respect to social change, but not economic change.

        “conservatives” are only anti-science where it serves their political/ideological purpose?

        (BTW, I generally agree with you about the granolas and anti-consumption)

      • I was hyperbolic and inflammatory there in my last sentence, but my prior semantical point is perfectly valid and perfectly worth making. No one uses the word ‘conservative’ that way. So what’s the point?

        Well there, we agree on something.

  11. Latest Reuters poll shows that 83% of Americans believe in global warming.

    Winners and losers from this? See the map:

    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2011/09/countries-best-and-least-prepared-climate-change/42580/

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