Well, the GOP race is thinning out, or heating up – however you prefer to consider it. Seems that candidates one after another have fallen, and now it’s a race between whether Romney ruined more people’s lives with Bain than Gingrich did with Fannie Mae and his inglorious tenure in the House of Representatives. Or maybe it’s not that bad and that’s just Tuesday morning talking.
But I thought I’d finish up with a final episode of what grinds my greens about the anti-environmental movement: which is namely those who dismiss the concerns of environmentalists as over-hyped and out of touch with reality. No, really, those people exist – and they tend to be the ones who grew up with the benefit of wealth and environmental regulations to shield them from the potentially devastating impacts of certain actions.
Viewpoint #4: Why should we listen to the environmentalists? EPA has been out of control recently and is promulgating regulations based on shoddy science, overstepping their boundaries, and over-reacting to fear of negative impacts that probably don’t really exist. Our water is fine! Our air is great! Besides, environmentalists are unrealistic, anti-business, and out of touch with reality. Actually, they’re probably just a bunch of tree-hugging hippies who live in old Volkswagon Van-a-gons down by the river. Green is just another fringe trend that will go away in time.
Held By: Just about everybody, as soon as they run out of other hogwash arguments.
Why it’s Hogwash: Maybe during the 1970’s this was true, but it’s time for the GOP to wake up. The year is 2012, and environmental sciences are a respected branch of science and policy based on decades of research – not just emotions. Today, environmental scientists work in think tanks, corporations, consulting firms, and virtually every top-rated university in America and abroad. Researchers and experts in public health, chemical engineering, civil engineering, biology, ecology, oceanography, medicine, toxicology, biophysics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and geology are part of the environmental community. The methods behind environmental science are the exact same scientific methods which led to the most important scientific and technical advances in other fields of science and engineering. We create hypotheses. We test these theories using experiments and extensive field world. We tweak our theories and our methods. Just like medicine or physics, we don’t always have all the answers, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t on the right track or that we’re making things up.
Not only are environmental sciences a respected branch, but the sum body of environmental research and policy is not just based on ivory-tower science. MS and PhD degrees in environmental sciences are available combined with professional degrees in areas of law, business, and public health. Specialists have emerged in areas of environmental management, environmental law policy, sustainable business development, and even environmental economics. Expert economists use the same methods on environmental problems that they use on all other issues. There are business owners, finance experts, and lawyers who specialize in environmental issues. Technology leaders and engineers strive towards greater efficiency in their products and develop new methods to conserve, recycle, and improve technology the same way they would develop any other product.
Also, all of these people probably shower. I’m just sayin’.
The bottom line: It’s time for the Republican party to wake up about the truth of environmental regulations. They are not anti-business; they are pro-America. Environmental regulations protect our fundamental needs: the need to breathe, the need to drink clean water, the need to work in a healthy and safe way that does not endanger our health, the need to eat nutritious food that will not make us sick. It’s time for the Republican Party to stop beating the economic drum so loudly that all other concerns are drowned out and chasing the dream of profit to the exclusion of everything else. It’s time for the Republican Party and the industry lobbyists they support to stop propagating myths about EPA, green energy, and environmental regulations that simply aren’t true.
What it is time for is the Republicans to agree that something needs to be done, and to start working on how we can achieve those changes in ways that their party will accept. Being a fiscal and a social conservative does not have to be incongruous with protecting our natural resources or adapting to climate change. Rather than just pretending we don’t need to take any action at all, I’d love to hear someone from the GOP side come up with a new, creative, different idea of HOW we can do that in a way that fits with their party values. And yes, Republicans, that is a challenge.
I can’t leave all of this out there without a conclusion, so I will leave it at this: I am disappointed in both parties right now, but especially in the GOP. There’s nothing wrong with capitalism, with prioritizing the economy, and with wanting a different agenda fiscally, internationally, or even internally than what we have now. But that agenda cannot be dominated by greed and the ingredients of expedience – knee-jerk reactions to problems that deserve a long-term solution.
More than anything else, it’s time for the Republican Party to regain a moral compass and start thinking about the real ways we can protect America – and that includes protecting our health, our workforce, and our natural resources and investing in long-term economic growth, not quick fixes that will put us back into the same messes in a few short years.