Friday, August 24, 2007

It's more than Ecological, it's important!

This is a copy of a letter the Mouseherder wrote to the editor of the Virginia Pilot this week. It is in response to the several anti-global warming articles published in the VP. Mostly, though, it is a reaction to those of us in the ecologocal/energy independence/stewardship of God's gift always portrayed a leftwing kooks?

It is impossible to respond comprehensively to the lengthy attack editorials on global warming run in Friday and Saturday's Virginian Pilot in the alloted 150 word limit, but allow me to hit the high points.

First of all, global warming is not the new "secular religion" (worn code for godless and democratic, I suppose). Religions are a fixed and unchanging polar star of the faithful. Global warming, on the other hand, is based on science, on evolving scientific understanding, better (and better refined) scientific data and ever more sophisticated technology. There is and always will be debate in science; it is the nature of the beast. But that does not mean that the underlying understanding of global warming is under any significant cloud. Indeed, those whose claim "the science is not settled" almost never then go on to address the areas where the science is unsettled. Instead, they launch into their own canard against some aspect of global warming, usually attacking the well understood areas of the field as if it were unsettled science.

Second, if the tactic of arguing "the science is not in" or "the data are conflicted" or "there is significant scientific debate" seems familiar, it is. Think back to the tobacco wars and the anti-smoking movement. This is straight out of the corporate tobacco play book. Let me be clear, there is no significant scientific disagreement about the basic science or observations of global warming.

Third, there are significant advantages for the United States to acting as if global warming is real, that humans have made significant contributions to the acceleration of global warming, and that we can actually do something about it, even if, in the end, we are totally wrong about it all.

Despite what your Op-Ed authors opined, global warming and the sustainability movement are not just an ecological movement. They are much, much more:

  • It is a movement of religious devotion for a growing number of congregations of all faiths--from How Many Jews Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb? (no kidding, look it up) to evangelical Christians to Muslims to Buddhists. It's about concern about our stewardship of God's gift of this planet, His environment, and His resources.
  • Is is a movement of parents and grandparents who are concerned about leaving a sustainable economy, a sustainable ecosystem, and a sustainable lifestyle to their children and grandchildren (not to mention clean air and pure water, both a particular concern for Virginians since every open body of water in the commonwealth has measurable amounts of mercury from coal fired plants upwind of us).
  • It is a movement of corporations from Goldman-Sachs to GE to Wal-Mart who have seriously studied the energy future of the nation and are adjusting not only their portfolios, but also their practices and products to position themselves to take advantage of the new economy.
  • It is a movement of labor leaders, business owners, and workers who see new (and unexportable) economic opportunities in renewable energy, energy conservation, and sustainability.
  • It is a movement of the citizens of more than 250 American cities (and growing), including Virginia Beach, and several states who have pledged to honor the Koyoto Protocols, even though the President and Senate of the United States would not ratify the treaty.
  • Finally, it is a movement of American Patriots who understand that even now, through our over dependence on foreign oil and unsustainable use of petroleum products, that we are funding both sides of the war on terror; the cost of our military and defending the nation on the one hand and the payments we make to countries from which terrorism springs on the other hand, by paying $80 to $100 per barrel of oil. (I know, most of America's imported oil comes from Canada, but research which royal families and Arab petroleum companies have major holdings in those Canadian stocks, too.)

Today's total world production of oil has been steady or in slight decline at about 300 billion barrels of oil per year for over a decade. During that same decade, American use of gasoline alone increased 10-15% per year. Substantial new finds of petroleum are reported unlikely, existing untapped reserves--such as ANWR or the fields off of the coast Virginia, California and Florida--are insufficient to meet future demands for long. And here's the kicker: if China maintains its current rate of economic growth, by mid-century that nation alone will have energy demands equal to today's total worldwide oil production, not counting the needs of India, Europe, the rest of Asia or the United States.

I for one, do not want our children and grandchildren fighting endless wars over a nonrenewable and shrinking commodity like oil. But we can win by changing the game. We can change the game by taking advantage of this unique nexus of interests--environmentalists, believers, families, future-minded corporations, and patriots--to substantially reduce America's dependence on carbon producing energy through conservation and economy, through support of alternative energy and research, through smarter design and smarter use.

King CONG--Coal, Oil, Nuclear, Gas--will put up a fight, just like big tobacco did, probably more of one. They'll use the same dirty tricks, run out the same tired arguments and trot out the same dubious mouthpieces that tobacco used. But we will not be deterred.

We do this for our God. We do this for our children. We do this for the future of our nation. We do this for our earth. And we'll do it one light bulb and one family at a time, if we have to.

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