Obduracy of Climate Politics Creates Real Risks

Michael Gerson, a conservative and former speech writer for Bush 43, has a very thoughtful article this week on the climate change debate.  I have grown increasingly frustrated by those voices within the Republican party who, for whatever reason, refuse to  consider the possibility that human activities are contributing to climate change.  Yes, I know, environmentalists have overplayed their hand, made predictions that haven’t materialized, and have exploited fear to leverage action.  The consequences have been greater cynism and, what I refer to as, a crisis of credibility.  However, this crisis of credibility doesn’t diminish the very real possibility that climate change, caused in part by human activity, is occurring.  However, as Gerson argues over in WashPo, politics is poorly suited to address global warming. Continue reading

China – A Growing Threat to the Earth

Listened to a sobering interview yesterday on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show, with Craig Simons, author of the new book, The Devouring Dragon, which chronicles imagesCACN1XEPChina’s insatiable appetite for natural resources – an emerging global threat to biodiversity and water and air pollution.  This story should make us all take pause.

China’s rise is assaulting the natural world at an alarming rate. In a few short years, China has become the planet’s largest market for endangered wildlife, its top importer of tropical trees, and its biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Its rapid economic growth has driven up the world’s very metabolism: in Brazil, farmers clear large swaths of the Amazon to plant soybeans; Indian poachers hunt tigers and elephants to feed Chinese demand; in the United States, clouds of mercury and ozone drift earthward after trans-Pacific jet-stream journeys. Craig Simons’ The Devouring Dragon looks at how an ascending China has rapidly surpassed the U.S. and Europe as the planet’s worst-polluting superpower. It argues that China’s most important 21st-century legacy will be determined not by jobs, corporate profits, or political alliances, but by how quickly its growth degrades the global environment and whether it can stem the damage. Combining in-depth reporting with wide-ranging interviews and scientific research, The Devouring Dragon shines a spotlight on how China has put our planet’s forests, wildlife, oceans, and climate in jeopardy, multiplying the risks for everyone in our burgeoning, increasingly busy world. Continue reading

“Nudging” versus “Coercion” – Balancing Environmental Protection with Liberty and Freedom

The recent controversy over the U.S. Government’s increased proclivity to secretly paw through the electronic communications and telephone records of Americans has prompted some soul-searching by many.  Is this just one more step imagesCAPHOYBVtoward fulfilling the Orwellian prophecy of 1984?  Has the citizenry ceded too much of their freedoms and liberty for the sake of feeling safer and more secure?

Some conservatives, like Andy McCarthy, over at NRO, argue the hype as non-sense and claims the government’s action is not only constitutional, but completely appropriate and necessary to change and stop some very bad human behavior.  McCarthy believes it’s not “big government” to blame but the little people in whom we’ve entrusted the keys to the government, and our human frailties.  Jonah Goldberg, over at NRO, however, takes issue with McCarthy, and argues there is more behind the secret curtain that deserves our skepticism. Goldberg contends that we should look askance at new powerful mega-computers and technologies that equip us with the ability to crunch huge amounts of data heretofore never possible.  Goldberg cautions

The arrival of “big data” — the ability to crunch massive amounts of information to find patterns and, ultimately, to manipulate human behavior — creates opportunities for government (and corporations) that were literally unimaginable not long ago. Behavioral economists, neuroscientists, and liberal policy wonks have already fallen in love with the idea of using these new technologies and insights to “nudge” Americans into making “better” decisions. No doubt some of these decisions really are better, but the scare quotes are necessary because the final arbiters of what constitutes the right choice are the would-be social engineers. Continue reading

Thoughtful Reflections on the Environment by a Conservative Thinker – An Evening with Roger Scruton

I had the roger-scruton-16-70dpi-photographer-by-pete-helme-200x300recent pleasure of sitting down with the English philosopher, Roger Scruton, to discuss his new book, How to Think Seriously About the Planet: The Case for Environmental Conservatism.  It was my first time meeting Roger, and the evening lived up to every bit my expectation.  I, along with my good friend, Tracy Mehan, spent an enchanting evening with Roger, tucked away in a second-floor corner of the quaint, Tabard Inn, here in the Nation’s Capital, swapping stories and enjoying each’s company over dinner and a couple of bottles of Verget Bourgogne.

A self-described conservative Tory, and author of over 20 academic books, Roger has made the most of life, sporting as a fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, a barrister, novelist, opera composer, journalist, former professor, teacher of aesthetics, church organist, radio personality, and anti-communist warrior.  When he’s not ferrying imagesCAR98L8Lacross the pond to the U.S., where he is currently a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, he resides in Wiltshire with his wife, Sophie, and their two children, tending to the daily demands of an aging 250-year-old farmhouse surrounded by 35 acres of land.

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Rush Limbaugh is Wrong on Climate Change – Note to File

This week Rush Limbaugh had a young listener – a 13-year old boy named, Alex – call in to discuss his doubts of manmade climate change.  Rush, impressed by the young lad’s articulation of his interest and research, gave him an iPad to continue his Rushendeavors – story here.  This prompted another media sensation and howls by the left decrying the evils of Limbaugh.  One of the more interesting articles stemming from Limbaugh’s commentary this week comes from Kurt Eichenwald over at Vanity Fair.  Eichenwald’s piece is entitled The Creeping Danger of Conspiracy Theorists and his point is that some things are very complicated and increasingly we humans are prone to believing in conspiracies.  Continue reading

Do We Really Need a New Shade of Green Environmentalism?

Okay . . . I begin with an apology for the title of this post, but no other title quite captures the gist of the story.  Even for someone like me who has spent his entire adult life immersed in environmental issues, it’s hard for me to keep up with the Green vernacular.  I don’t know what it is with you Greens (you have pale greens, lite greens, dark greens, bright greens, red-greens, radical red-greens, blue-greens, red-green-brown greens, veridian greens, puke greens – p.s. I made that last one up), but that term and its many derivations as used to describe one’s greenitude or fealty to some green alliance has gotten awfully confusing. Continue reading

The Bureaucratization of Environmentalism – can we survive good intentions?

[Update: This post has spawned a fair bit of discussion and represents many things that are wrong with the current way in which we as a society approach environmental problems.  This quaint little bridge is an apt metaphor for the fork in the road, which will always present choices, some of which are better and more correct than others.  Which path we pick is often influenced by competing factors.  A path that is selected solely for monetary reasons, disregarding all other sensibilities, will invariably be the wrong path chosen.  An aspirational goal for government ought to focus on eliminating those barriers – or helping build the bridge – to our picking the more correct path.]

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Sarah Palin has her bridge to nowhere story. This is my story of the bridge to somewhere – a 24 foot 11 inch bridge that spans a beautiful little perennial creek that bisects my neighborhood into Rockville and North Potomac.  And a bridge whose history made me madder than hell – and still to this day makes me shake my head in amazement. Continue reading