It seems that today is “Blog Action Day” and the topic is the environment. So, since I’m always on the lookout for something to post about, I’ll take the bait.
I’m a Skeptic
Why? Because I’ve heard the same kind of environmental gloom and doom, worse case scenarios, since I was a freshman in college back in the 70’s. I’ve also heard these politically motivated environmental scientists backpedal, hem and haw and generally carry on like real politicians. To me, they’ve become like the little boy who cried wolf. They could be right but they’ve so damaged their credibility that they’re hard to believe this time around.
To make matters worse, left leaning politicians have hopped on this gravy train hoping to score some political points. Many in the press have followed their lead. What I can almost guarantee you will happen if a Democrat is elected US President in 2008 is that almost like magic the environmental problems will be ’solved’, at least if you go by what the mainstream press and many politicians say.
If the worst case scenarios are accurate, the very worst thing that scientists and politicians can do is to play partisan political games. Instead of calculating what they should do to win the next election, throwing around politically charged words like “denier” or “socialist”, or doing other things to attack political opponents they should try to work together for the public good. We saw this problem at a small scale with Katrina in New Orleans as politicians and bureaucrats at all levels of government and from both parties ignored the danger and lined their own pockets prior to the storm and then afterward engaged in a blame game rather than working together to help people.
If the worse case scenarios aren’t accurate or overblown then politicians who’re using them to scare people into voting for them and scientists who’re using them to score grant money should just stop it. If they’re proven wrong this would hurt the ability of policy makers in the future to deal with real environmental problems.
That said, I do think that one should practice good personal conservation. Not because of some vague, feel-good, notion that you’re “saving the planet” but simply because it makes good economic sense. For example, we saved about $1500 this past summer by keep our air conditioning usage to a minimum. But, on the flip side, buying a hybrid auto doesn’t seem like a sound economic investment when you run the numbers on them. There’s a reason why automakers are marketing these cars toward people who value a smug feeling of being better than everybody else instead of those looking for a way to save money on their transportation costs.
On a larger scale, it makes good common and political sense to avoid industrial pollution and to reduce dependence on oil from areas where political instability and brutal dictatorships are a way of life. It’s not feel-good, touchy-feelly, I’m saving the planet thinking but hard nosed what’s in my best interest politically and economically thinking.
Well, that’s my opinion on the subject. Feel free to post a comment in response.