Earth Day Ramblings

For some reason, the environment has been on my mind this week. I don’t think it’s because today is Earth Day, since that fact didn’t occur to me until last night. But it’s pretty ironic.

On Sunday morning, I watched This Week with George Stephanopoulos, and George was interviewing our fearless Republican leader in the U.S. House, John Boehner. George asked Boehner whether or not there was a Republican plan to address climate change, and Boehner responded (1.) that cows send carbon into the atmosphere, so it’s not dangerous, (2.) that we don’t really know if humans are the cause of global warming, (3.) that we need to get other nations onboard to address the problem, and (4.) that Obama’s plan taxes companies and ships jobs overseas.

For (1.), environmentalists can respond that we don’t want too much carbon in the atmosphere, which is what happens when we add automobiles and smokestacks to cows and our breathing. What’s interesting, though, is that people laughed at Ronald Reagan in 1980 for suggesting that trees and Mount St. Helens cause a lot of pollution, and now the federal government does studies on the natural causes of global warming. Bobby Jindal made fun of them in his response to Barack Obama’s State of the Union!

(2.) and (3.) contradict each other, since, if we’re not the cause of global warming, then we can’t do anything to stop it. Sarah Palin made the same blunder when she said, “It’s not important what causes climate change, but that we do something about it” (not an exact quote, but that was the drift).

I don’t entirely understand (4.), since I’m not sure where the tax comes in. Under Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal, companies that emit more carbon will have to buy credits from those who don’t emit as much. The ones buying the credits will then pass on the cost of purchasing them to their consumers, or they will cut other company costs.  That will mean higher energy prices and/or a loss of jobs. But that’s not exactly a tax, since the government isn’t getting any money out of the deal (as far as I know).

On Sunday night, I ate dinner with a relative of mine whose job is evaluating smokestacks. He said that companies are afraid of Obama’s proposals to combat climate change.

On Tuesday morning, I was reading the April 4 Newsweek while I was waiting to see my therapist. First, I read an article by Newt Gingrich. He explained how Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal will lead to higher energy prices, but his thesis was more-or-less “drill, baby, drill, and develop renewable energy while you’re at it.” Newt is a Republican who has some level of environmental consciousness, so I wonder if he thinks global warming is caused by humans. If so, then isn’t “drill, baby, drill” harmful to the environment? Maybe he sees drilling as a temporary solution for our energy needs while we seek ways to produce renewable energy.

Next, I read an article that said global warming isn’t even a problem. Colder climates are getting warmer, already warm climates aren’t getting that much hotter, and the threat of global cooling is being warded off. Plus, if our carbon emissions ever become problematic, then we can plant more trees to suck them up! So said an article in liberal Newsweek!

George Will has also asked why we should fear climate change, since who’s to say that one climate is better than another? And I’ve read about plants and shrubs underneath sheets of ice in Antarctica (I think), indicating that it wasn’t always cold there.

But there are possible downsides to global warming. There are scientists who suggest that global warming was the cause of many of our recent hurricanes, since heat causes water to move faster. Fortunately, we’ve not had as many hurricanes lately, but they were coming one after another for a while! And not having a long, cold winter prevents certain diseases from getting killed off. Sure, we have cold days during the winter time, and conservatives like to say when those happen, “Man, Al Gore talks about global warming, but it’s FREEZING right now!” But here in Cincinnati during the winter, it’s the North Pole one day, and a tropical island the next.

Afterwards, I read an article about Carol Browner, President Obama’s energy czar. She was Bill Clinton’s head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and she tried to be really tough on businesses at the time. Now, she is much more pragmatic and open to compromise. From what the Newsweek article was telling me, she’s not a hypocrite, for she lives a pretty green lifestyle and walks to work whenever she can. So she’s not like Al Gore, who lectures us about climate change right before taking off in his private jet!

The article said that a lot of companies don’t find environmental regulations to be all that expensive. That may be how some of them see the situation, but, as I said above, my relative told me that many companies are afraid of Obama’s proposals to combat global warming!

Finally, I read an article by Thomas Friedman, a guru of the liberal left. At Jewish Theological Seminary, students quoted “Thomas Friedman” with solemn reverence in their voice! He said that the search for renewable energy flopped in the 1970’s because we had an oil glut at the beginning of Reagan’s first term, and one of Reagan’s first acts as President was to remove the solar panels from the White House. I often cited the U.S. government’s failure on renewable energy as an example of the inefficiency of government. But government was probably inefficient in that case because it had no will. At least that’s an alternative explanation.

Friedman also said that Americans are not that eager to address climate change, which he attributed to two factors: (1.) Al Gore is the symbol of the environmental movement, and (2.) people are more responsive to combatting global warming when the poll question is asked a certain way. I think it was when I was reading this that my therapist was ready to see me.

I hope you got something out of today’s meanderings! Have a good Earth Day, or just “day,” if you’re not an environmentalist.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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