Friday, January 21, 2011

Ethics and the Environment


Welcome back from break everyone! Syllabus week is all about settling into new routines, occasionally walking into the wrong classroom and remembering how to think again after a month-long Grey's Anatomy bender. Or at least, that's how I transition out of winter break. For a few eager Republicans, though, the month of January is all about attempting to erase progress.

The House of Representatives voted to repeal last year's health care overhaul on Wednesday. The legislation has virtually no chance in the Senate and President Obama is threatening a veto if it somehow makes it through, but the Republicans are determined to deliver on their campaign pledge of a repeal, and promise months of political maneuvering and delays. With this ambiguous victory under their belts, Republicans say they plan to move on to the next battle: the Clean Air Act.

The Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of drawing up new performance standards to help cut emissions produced by coal plants and refineries. In other words, the EPA is working to cut greenhouse gas emissions, fighting pollution to preserve the planet.

Republicans are horrified.

"Standing up for American workers and addressing EPA's rampant regulations is a top priority," says Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan. The new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee adds, "we will be active and aggressive...to protect American jobs and our economy by rolling back the job destroying (greenhouse gas) regulations." I have to commend Rep. Upton for his use of carefully worded rhetoric, but ultimately these words are empty. Just like the health care repeal, an attack on the Clean Air Act is a largely symbolic gesture, without a chance of getting through a Senate vote or avoiding a veto. More importantly, Republicans are completely missing the point of energy reform.

Energy debates inevitably center around the economy. Questions about costs, job loss and efficiency need to be asked and addressed, but America, as a progressive, humanitarian nation, also needs to address the moral aspects of climate control. Our world runs on a global marketplace and on a global energy system. While American politicians dally over numbers and cents, farmers in Africa are facing worsening droughts exacerbated by the emissions of a coal plant in Virginia and a car factory in Detroit. Donald Brown, a professor of Environmental Ethics at Penn University, points out that "the economic argument has been used to scare people, without reflecting on rights and responsibilities."

America is a superpower, and as such we must take the lead in accepting blame for our actions and affecting change and progress. Energy reform is an incredibly complex issue, but it boils down to this: America and other world leaders are dumping enormous amounts of pollution into the atmosphere and the water supply, "we're dumping on others and harming them because of acting in our own interest," says NYU Environmental Studies professor Dale Jamieson.

Republicans aren't afraid to bring up questions of morality in debates about abortion and LGBT rights, so progressive politicians shouldn't shy away from the hard questions and moral quandaries that surround energy reform. I don't want to minimize the importance of 'numbers and cents,' but I truly believe that minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and investing in clean energy will create a healthier, more progressive economy that will be a viable competitor in the markets of today and tomorrow. I also believe that the United States has a moral obligation to face the consequences of decades of environmental abuse, and that moral obligation starts with simply accepting responsibility, and agreeing to begin the path to recovery.

The Republicans have virtually no chance at rewriting the Clean Air Act, but they can delay it. I hope, for the sake of our national integrity, that they stop fighting a losing battle and take a look at the world we've all created. It's time to step up, stop angling for electoral talking points, and face the music.

For a more in-depth analysis of the morality of energy reform, check out this link:

2 comments:

Jack Reylan said...

The Chinese Art of War is by stealth. The bogus swine flu pandemic is being used to inject nanoparticle monitoring chips (made from aborted babies) which also have the ability to dissuade patriots from religious belief. Designed by Chaoyang geneticists, they will be used to make the white race servile and sterile while creating a front for our occupation by Chinese drones, disguised as health workers. China has just started using biologically cloned humanoid drones in its factories and military to counter population aging from one child policy. This biocloning was started by Tong Dizhou in the early 1990s to produce star athletes and organ parts but was later taken up by the PLA military. The clones are grown in the wombs of slave women from allied African dictators and have been known to appear on American soil as illegal workers. These illegal workers have special implant chips which relay data obtained from Chinese spyware in our televisions and computers to be used to supress Americans opposed to Chinese hegemony. They are also used in special calculator chips that allow Chinese to cheat on standardized exams by having a committee work on the exam at the same time. Food and Drug Administration investigators say the Chinese spiked pet food with melamine so that they would appear in tests to have more value as protein products. They sell drywall which emit suflide fumes! Given their blatant disregard for American safey in products they sell, because they don't care if we stay alive after we enrich them, it is worrisome that these clones have not been adequately tested for potential disease transmission. Why aren't anti-American professulas who were hawking phoney Japanese "quality" complaining about their fellow reds in China? China has always believed in war by stealth, in avoid open conflict, stabbing you in the back while full of smiles. When they found they nature ninnies willing to buy up poisonous herbs as dietary supplements, they decided to sell more wholesale poisons as well!

Tim Ryan said...

^ What you're smoking: I want some.