For some time, I've gotten these regular e-mails called "Peas and Carrots Reports" from a South Carolina-oriented group called "Citizens for Sound Conservation." (Get it? Citizens for S.C.? I assume that's intentional.)
I've never had time really to look into what sort of group this is, or even read these reports, but I gather that it's one of those groups whose philosophy can be summed up as "Protecting the environment is great and all, but let's not get carried away." You know — we can have all the growth we want without really seriously hurting the environment. Which I don't necessarily disagree with, although I find that folks who start from that proposition generally drift more and more toward the growth, and farther and farther from the environmental protection.
No, what has vaguely bothered me about these reports is the "Peas and Carrots" part. It apparently arises from what I take to be the group's motto, "Because growth and protection go together — just like peas and carrots." The irritating thing about this to me is that I always thought the line was dumb when Forrest Gump said it, and I'm pretty sure it was meant to sound dumb, Mr. Gump being, you know, the way he was. Sort of an endearingly goofy thing to say. It was sort of meant to suggest that since peas and carrots were often packaged together and (I guess) his mama served them to him that way, he thought there was some sort of inherent connection. But there isn't, not really. Root vegetable and legume, green and orange — not a whole lot of similarities that I can see. And personally, I never thought they tasted good together. At best, an odd combo.
Anyway, that's about as far as my analysis of these reports had gone until the one I got today, which said the following (the boldfaced emphasis is mine):
Despite the near 24-7 coverage focusing on how cool President Obama is and how his wife has already become a fashion icon, there was a good bit of news on the environmental front. First, it’s becoming more and more apparent that Americans are skeptical of global warming – which means any state and federal policies being based upon that theory must be re-evaluated. Second, while the causes of climate change continue to be debated our dependence on fossil fuels remains strong. As such, support for more offshore exploration for oil and natural gas continues to grow. And last, the private sector continues to embrace and transition into a more green economy – but government doesn’t need to overstep its bounds. That’s the big question for 2009.
Come again? You say polls show that the propaganda campaign to cast doubt on global warming has gained some traction, so since more Americans doubt the science on this, we should change our policies?
Say what? Does that mean that if a majority of Americans comes to believe that the Earth is flat and you'll fall off if you go too far, the U.S. Navy should stay in the Western Hemisphere. (Yeah, some of our isolationists would love that, but it would still be nuts.)
I tend to get impatient with liberals who rant about how policies should be based in sound science and nothing else. Not that I've got anything against science, but because their real point is that our policies in no way should be based in deeply held values (specifically, religion-based values). Take that far enough, and you get eugenics or something equally horrible and "scientific." So when Obama said "We will restore science to its rightful place," I winced, because I know among Democrats that's code for "We'll do stem cell research whether you think it's morally right or not." That made it my second least-favorite part of a speech that on the whole I liked a lot.
But the idea that we should reverse policies meant to protect the Earth (not that we have many such policies to any serious extent) because a poll shows the average person doubts the science (never mind what the doubt is based in) is crazy.
Our republic is based in the notion that our elected representatives study issues and become more knowledgable about them than the average poll respondent. It too seldom works that way as things stand, with the ubiquity of polling and other pressures on elected officials to do the popular thing whether it's the right thing or not. This takes it to an absurd degree.
As to the larger point: Doubt is cast on global warming by people who simply do not want to do what it would take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I have gathered that they would not want to do it whatever the science is, and therefore they have resolved not to believe the science, and to cling to anything that might cast doubt on it.
I have a very different attitude: The way I look at it, even if there were only a 10 percent chance that our emissions were causing global warming, and that that was a bad thing, I say why the hell not reduce our emissions — especially since there are so many other good reasons (such as our strategic position in the world) to burn less gasoline, and to move past coal to nuclear, and all that other good Energy Party stuff.
And yeah, the fact that it MIGHT help the planet is an additional reason to do things that ought to be common sense.
Here's the thing — I'm pretty much open to any good argument. And I'm concerned enough about economic development that I still haven't made my mind up about that new coal-fired plant proposed for the Pee Dee.