I know some will wonder, why talk about politics on a site that focuses on LDS issues? Well, because I believe some issues do have a religious compenent, and this is one of them.
So while I supported the basic idea of getting OUT of the Paris climate agreement, I still have mixed feelings, mostly based on optics. The "accord" was terrible!--exactly the kind of "globalist" tripe to come out of the last administration. China and India "need not comply"? Because they're "developing nations"? Because the U.S. had a 100-year head start on 'em? And that's our fault? Where were they? In hibernation? Sorry to say, but the U.S. earned this spot at the top of the hill with a lot of sweat and blood. Doesn't mean we're "better" than any other nation. Just a statement of fact regarding the last century of history. It also doesn't mean that other nations are "better" than us. If rules are not universal, they are morally bankrupt.
The Paris Accord is nonsense. It has no teeth and no real impact on a problem that may, or may not, exist!
Oooo, them's fighin' words for true believers in climate change. But gimme some credit. I DID get into the nitty-gritty on this issue (shucks, 3 of my 24 current podcasts on foreverLDS are focued on the environment. (Podcast 18, Podcast 19, and Podcast 20) That's, uh (doing the math in my head) 8% of everything I've talked about!
Ignoramuses who say human-caused global warming is a mass "consensus" issue among 97% of all scientists worldwide (yesterday I heard a talking head say 98%, so the percentage keeps fudging upwards) are simply manipulating the facts. It's not true. To be more accurate, you could state that a "sort" of consensus DOES exist among scientists that the earth is a generally warmer place today than a century ago. But it was also warmer in Roman times, when Brits had wineries that competed with the best stuff that came ouf the France. See another article on this issue here.
The best vetted, core, peer-reviewed science cannot demonstrate that we (humans) are the cause of global warming or if the present earthly phase is simply cyclical. Don't talk to me about melting glaciers or core samples of the polar ice caps or any other nonsense. I've read it all, and the data is consistently interpreted to support whatever agenda the "interpreter" chooses to support. A lot of grant and research money is on the line, and the grant-seekers had better come back in support of the "sugar daddy" funding sources or they can kiss future funding goodbye. Talk about an issue so polarized and politicized that common sense no longer holds sway!
For anyone in academia to deny climate change would be like a Democrat praising the ideals of pro-life. Deniers will be shunned as if they have the plague. And don't think for a minute it's not an issue tied to money, and greed, and passion, and hysteria, and everything else that reveals the worst of our human foibles and flaws.
Were you really surprised that Elon Musk abandoned Trump after this decision? How can Mr. Musk continue to garner funding and support for his ultimate dream of a permanent settlement on Mars if he allows the concept of climate change to be abandoned or relegated to a lesser state of importance? It's like putting a pin in the balloon of any space engineer's core ambition--the ambition that drives the very idea of inhabitating another planet. No, no. The simple "Star Trek" concept of "going where no man has gone before (Sorry. Captain Picard changed it to 'Going where no one...' " We wouldn't want the New Generation to go all politically incorrect on us!) isn't enough to drive an "Enterprise" (hey, this is getting punny!) as expensive and complex as this one. The fanatiscim of "climate change" has become an integral, almost religious, component that greases the wheels (and palms) of present-day outer space research and ambitions. Billionaires who tend to think, "Ah, let's just screw this planet and start over fresh on some asteroid" are some of Mr. Musk's biggest contributors. You think he'd stay connected to Trump in the face of such a fundamental business-model conflict?
Very few get the nuances of this issue. They're not even interested in the nuances! It's all spinning in a vortex of emotion. So I better make myself clear right now. All that I've said does not mean that humans are not a factor in global warming. It just means the jury--the genuinely unbiased jury--is still out. My flippancy on the matter does not necessarily mean I reject the idea of anthropmorphic (the more proper term is "anthropogenic") climate change overall. Flippancy and sarcasm just becomes a knee-jerk reation to all of the foolishness expressed by "true believers" who are out there waving signs and simultaneously leaving in their wake trash heaps the size of North Dakota, and oodles of outright hypocrasy.
I love trees. I just laugh at "tree huggers". I'm all for saving whales. I just shake my head at those who make no secret of valuing such causes over saving human beings--physically and spiritually. Certainly this perspective is partially tied to my religious convictions. I think it's more influenced by the common sense of listening to both sides of this argument for 50 years.
Frankly, when I hear Latter-day Saints wholeheartedly reject the idea of climate change, I gotta ask them if they've ever removed their conservative high-hats long enough to read D&C 29:14-20 or much of D&C 45. Go back and re-read those verses and then tell me for certain that what's described there has nothing whatsoever to do with climate change. Sure, worldwide wickedness and the hearts of men waxing cold are the reasons for the catastrophes described. But the Lord, I believe, uses as tools of judgment the forces of nature. So the best explanation I can offer as to why these described events will come to pass--and then trying it all together to intellectually determine what tool the Lord would employ to create circumstances like "a great hailstorm [being] sent forth to destroy the crops of the earth" indeed seem related to climate change. If you can't see the connection there, also read verses 18, 19, and 20 in Section 29 and tell me climate change has nothing to do with that! (Sure, there's a smattering of nuclear war in there too.)
My advice to Latter-day Saints is to keep an open mind about all this. Just remember this one critical truth: Even if science is able to diagnose a problem, they are utter failures at proposing workable solutions. Ultimately, the only workable solution is rigtheousness. Worldly solutions are just band-aids with an impact so miniscule it can't be measured. Worldly solutions will always be a mish-mash of misdirection and bureaucracy. Men whose "hearts have waxed cold" cannot prescribe solutions, so don't expect them to do so.
The reason I feel guilty at times at my flippancy toward those who dictate that we ought to buy a Prius to reduce our "carbon footprint" is that many of these advocates are good-hearted people, just misguided and hoodwinked by those who twist the data. It turns a certain saying sort of upside-down: Don't shoot the message--SHOOT THE MESSENGER! Particularly if he/she comes forth belching all sorts of wisdom about how to correct the problem, while still promoting a worldview that permits his or her friends and associates to carry on with a libertine lifestyle. So respect the message. JUST SHOOT THE MESSENGER! (Figuratively, of course.)
We just have it all so backwards! Folks wanna install solar heating, but otherwise ignore the real and immediate environmental disasters that face our planet. We have a gyre of plastic water bottles (mingled with various other trash) circling in the center of the Pacific Ocean. This gyre is the size of Texas! Did you hear what I just said? A Texas-sized island of floating trash! This is not speculation. It's there! You can measure it! It's 30 feet deep in some places. The same swirling islands of trash exist in all of the world's oceans, but nothing quite like the Pacific gyre. If we don't think a 30-foot deep "curtain" of rubbish limiting sunlight exposure to the water beneath, and therefore hindering the healthy reproduction of plankton and other species vital to the survival of larger species, you got another think coming.
I promise you that on this very day you can scour the shops and stalls and private vendors around Central Park in New York and find on sale cute little carvings that the vendors "swear" up and down are whale bone, knowing darn well that it's elephant ivory. Both seller and buyer know exactly what's being exchanged--AND NO ONE DOES ANYTHING ABOUT IT! (Well, okay I found one article where something was, indeed, done about it, but this instance happened only a year ago! How many elephants were slaughtered before authorities stepped in?)
Since I was born in the '60s the earth has been depleted of about 70 to 85% of its apex wildlife--elephants, tigers, gorillas, rhinos--you name it! Many of these animal are riding on a velocity-increasing treadmill toward total extinction. Countries like Zaire (The Congo) actually put together some rather impressive, crack teams of anti-poaching patrols--well-paid warriors armed with AK-47s, gernade launchers, and other powerful tools to battle the poachers. Here's the problem: The POACHERS are better armed and better funded than the game wardens! Poachers have helicopter gunships, networks of spies who tell them where the game wardens are patrolling, and the most sophisticated small arms that money can buy--which they do not hesitate to use. They will use such weapons to slaughter elephants--and park rangers--without batting an eye. The profits from ivory (which presently exceeds the value of its weight in pure gold) are just too alluring. For the poachers--who are working for the most organized crime syndicates in the world--any risks are well worth the rewards, so they employ the most efficient and brutal tactics to slaughter whole herds. And if the rangers appear, which they usually don't because their ranks are infiltrated by spies, the poachers start firing back. Many of these noble game wardens and park rangers don't go home to their families. Just to a coffin. These folks are "true believers"! They're willing to die for a cause that is immediate and all-too real. Two entire species of rhinocerous have been wiped off the planet in just the last 10 or 15 years--the Asian rhino of Vietnam and the West African black rhino. At least no one has seen one for a decade or more. Thus, they assume they are gone. Kaput. Most models of climate change don't speak of massive disasters for at least a century. Some models suggest we won't perceive a measurable difference for a thousand years--assuming it's not just a natural cycle and things will return to normal in a decade or two. So shouldn't we lead the charge on more immediate concerns, like cleaning up Texas-sized gyres, whose existence (if climate change is real) may be a central contributor to global warming? A project like this would be massive, highly expensive, and require the cooperation of governments throughout the world. Why are there no "Paris Accords" on an issue like? Restore all the sealife destroyed by the Pacific gyre and other islands of trash that hide thousands of square miles from receiving adequate sunlight would do more to save the planet than having a hybrid automobile in every driveway in America. I feel certain of it. I just don't have the stats. And unfortunely, I wonder if anyone else is seeking such stats. Too busy trying to convince us that earthquakes are caused by fracking. This one is hilarious. As if underground chasms and crevices haven't been carved by the annual process of rain and snow cycling its way from the loftiest mountaintops back to the world's oceans for billions of years!
Do folks have any concept of how much old rainforest has been plowed under over the last twenty years to make room for the latest cash crop--palm oil? Compare the images on satellite photos from ten years ago and the millions upon millions of acres of old growth that have been decimated. The images are staggaring. Indonesia is not the same island. Sri Lanka is devastated. As well as Madagascar. And now plantations are taking root in the Amazon basin. Haven't the gold hunters on the eastern slopes of the Andes already destroyed enough rainforest? So for those who care, start reading labels and stop buying products with palm oil! (And learn the industry "disguises" that try to hide this ingredient by putting the generic label of "vegetable oil" on the label. Tell your congressman to force the makers to confess which "vegetable" they're talking about!) You'd be shocked to discover that over the last twenty years palm oil has been incorporated into almost everything we consume! Take a random look at items in your bathroom and kitchen pantry. Palm oil RULES, and it's destroying the world's rainforests. Why? Well, it's simply cheaper to grow and harvest than other oils. Oh, we certainly have alternative oils and easy ways to resolve this problem. We just don't want to. I'll even provide a link to illuminate readers on this issue, because I'd bet most Americans have no freaking idea what's going on. They're just mindless consumers. You wanna make a change? Don't transform your roof with solar panels. STOP CONSUMING PALM OIL! Here's your instructions. Just click on the "What can I do" link after learning a basic rundown of the problem.
Do any of these causes seem like issues you can sink your teeth into with more fervency and comprehension than a century-long quest to reduce fossil fuel emissions? Can we at least wait until we're actually forced to BUILD dikes to protect Miami beach from as-yet-unrealized rises in ocean levels instead of moping prematurely over this "predicted" disaster? Honestly, both causes can be simultaneoously addressed, but it depresses me to think that by the time I get to Africa with my wife to go on safari, there may be no elephants left to see! (Game reserves are the most common targets of poachers. Why do robbers rob banks? 'Cause that's where the money is!) The demand for ivory and rhino horn--especially in Asia--is so incomprehensible. Certainly we could laser in on some weird myths that have survived into the 20th Century from our Western culture, but as for the mythical medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities of powdered rhino horn, China, Vietnam, and other Asiain peoples have to take owership of that one. Maybe it's a good thing that ground-up elk antlers have recently been "elevated" to the status of having similar aphrodisiac and healing qualities. The whole thing is such a weird phenom with NO SCIENCE to back up the voodoo. It's cartilege, people! Just like your toenails! You want an aphrodisiac? Grind up your toenails and you're 99% there! THAT'S how close the two are related chemically and genetically.) Visit Jackson Hole, Wyo at that time of year when they auction off their hoards of gathered elk horns. The buyers are almost all ASIANS! (Whether in person or using a rep.)
We used to think South Africa was the last bastion of defense for the great wildlife of that continent. No one would dare kill mass herds of elephants in South Africa because the South Africans were too well funded and "on the ball" with regard to protecting their reserves. Not anymore. Black marketers have started to penetrate this once impenetrable landscape. The discoveries of mass graveyards of slaughtered elephants--sans tusks--are on the rise in South Africa. Why is this happening? In a word--economics. Countries like Mozambique and Zimbabwe aren't letting poachers produce acceptable black market quotas anymore--because the herds are gone! The drive to wipe out these majestic animals is so much greater than any drive to save them. Now there's a cause worth enlisting in. Forget the Prius or the Telsa! Find ways to support a far more immediate threat to our planet. I suppose the best approach is simply to stirve for balance and perspective. And never allow basic values with regard to such causes exceed basic values regarding human life. (Unless you're battling with Gadianton-style crime organizations. Then fight to the death!)
So the Paris Accord? Yeah, I'm glad Trump had the courage to pull out. I just wish in his speech at the Rose Garden he'd presented a more robust defense of the environment. I wish he'd expressed how this objective is no less a Republican cause than it was ever a Democrat cause. Trump says he loves the environment. Exactly what does he love about it? What does he want to protect? Thus, right now the optics of pulling out of the accord seem unbalanced by a speech that only drove home the issue of "America First". Don't misunderstand. I'M ALL FOR AMERICA FIRST! We can serve that cause AND reassure Americans that Republicans are as passionate about the environment as any Dems. We just choose to do so without becoming suckers. We can do it smarter and more effectively. With measurable results! That was my gut reaction to his speech anyway. I wish he'd said more about what can be done--today--to better protect the environment. For me he did not properly express his committment toward this issue to balance the optics of withdrawing from an admittedly terrible accord. Yes, politics is often about optics. It's about messages that resonate--especially with disconnected voters. John Kerry can now call America the world's pariah on environmental matters because Trump had a dearth of confessed concern in his speech for the environment--and uninformed voters will believe it's true! How is it that our president consistently misses such moments? Now the Dems have a new catalogue of sound bites to que up in time for the next election. Our best hope? They'll over-do it. They'll muck it up by presenting the info much like Dr. Emmett Brown in the Back to the Future movies would present it.
I'm confident we can successfully marry the ideas of saving the environment and saving American industries, allowing us to remain competetive around the world and supporting technological advances and making changes in our lives to buttress causes that (mostly) escape our attention because they aren't necessarily happening in our backyards. Trump made some allusions to marrying such ideas in his speech, but not much for us to sink our teeth into. He begged Dems to join him in creating NEW environmental platforms that are more balanced and fair. But this part of the speech fell flat. The message didn't resonate alongside the heavy-handed way in which the withdrawal from the Paris accord was announced. The speech lacked any zingers and soundbites that might have reassured Americans that a basic commitment to a cleaner, safer environment is still part of his mindset.
Yes, the pendulum swung ridiculously too far to the "tree hugger" point of view in the last eight years. We don't need to turn scrublands with no landmarks or sites of interest into National Parks. (Take away Escalate from the Federal Government and give it back to the state of Utah! Oh, we'll let the Feds keep the "Staircase Monument" if it means so much to 'em, as a consolation prize.) What we need to do is emphasize our role as responsible stewards of the Earth, while still utilizing its treasures and blessings that God set in place for our use and benefit.
That's what I mean by bad optics--and it could hurt our party in the next elelction. Conservatives are feeling pretty smug right now. We have no idea how quickly the tables can turn. Then again, I couldn't have predicted the Trump phenom. Yeah, I predicted he'd win, but that didn't mean I didn't bite my nails. The nice thing is, every time he genuinely sticks his foot in his mouth, the progressives go so berserk with jumping up and down and releasing manaical laughter that reasonable-thinking people find themselves shifting back to support the guy with the inserted foot, because they could never support the crazies who trash their own cities in protest or demand safe spaces with lovable puppies or who dance in the streets when a white policeman is slain. The progressives are chomping at the bit, just waiting for the next silly sound bite they believe will finally be so widely condemned that even Trump's core suppoters will abandon him. Right now it ain't happening. Right now, to Trump's core, events like pulling out of Paris is an ample serving of the "red meat" they ordered in November.
Listen, I bascially support Trump's agenda--virtually all of it--I just wish he'd be more "diplomatic" in how he presents it. I do believe times will change. The progressives will be back in power. Can conservatives today even imagine how vicious it will be when that happens? Payback will be painful: The Battle of the Executive Orders. Still...whenever I start to think, "Oh boy. Trump has finally crossed the line", I'm always shocked how his actions garner greater support. Right now the man seems untouchable, at least to his base. So does my advice that he change his tactics and be a tad more diplomatic carry any weight? Or truth? I gotta wonder. Still, while I whole-heartedly support Trump's basic agenda, the brusque way that he goes about selling it often makes me cringe. Anyone else share these sentiments, feelings, gut reactions?
Maybe I'm all alone. I'm just convinced conservatives can take charge on environmental issues if we do this right. But Trump labeling Democrats as do-nothing obstructionists, while simultaneously inviting them to work with him at developing a new and more fair climate accord, sounded like hot air. Oh well. That's what we love about him, right? He ain't one of those predictable politician-types. Until he starts actually losing, maybe those of us who yearn to whisper in his ear saying, "If you pull out of the accord, you've gotta do so by simultaneously reminding the crowd how important the environment is to you!" are overthinking our concerns.
Admittedly, I didn't hear the whole speech. Maybe snippets about things we can actually do to support the environment were in there. The mainstream media, including Fox, just excised these in favor of other sound bites. Perhaps in the infamous words of Cory Lewandowski, we "just have to let Trump be Trump. He knows what he's doing." Okay. Possible, I guess. But nerve-racking.
Let's look at the bright side. I really feared we'd have a President Clinton on November 7. I just have to re-live my feelings of euphoria that night to reaffirm my hopes. I just can't help wishing that the president was a better salesmen--a better diplomat--when it comes to garnering bilateral support. Granted, the left was shell-shocked, and they still haven't fully come to grips with what happened. So the negativiity isn't all Trump's fault. In fact, I think most of it isn't. But he certainly doesn't do much to counter the optics. Frequently just adds a smash zoom.