We’ve just passed the 6th week of a 16-week semester, and the ground–or should I say road?–is coming up fast. There are too many things to read, write, and study. Can I put off grading for a few hours to read these travelogues and this treatise on new economic models? Will I really find the time to study my Chinese sustainability vocab, when there’s a pretty rosary maker with a story to tell?
I’ve got two lonely butterflies flitting around my stomach. How am I gonna pull this off? I need to know where I’m going this summer to start networking with local sustainability folks, but first I need to know where I’m working next year…and now that Princeton in Asia has sucked my two riding companions in for another year, all this planning will be solo. Only enough nerves to nag for now, but they’ll grow.
So that’s what I’ve been thinking about this week. What have I been doing? Reading. Investigating.
Last week I began research for my next climate story and read Merchants of Doubt, a history documenting how a handful of fundamentalist capitalists sewed doubt in the public understanding of scientific consensus. Many of them coming up in the scientific world of the early Cold War, these men saw free market capitalism as the only tool to reliably fight communism. When science began to reveal the failings of an absolutely free market, they made it their duty to undermine its findings. For more than 50 years, they worked to protect industry from science, delaying action on tobacco, DDT, ozone/CFCs, acid rain and global warming. This is a must-read for anyone trying to understand the national “debate” on climate change and America’s collective understanding of environmentalism. A quick quote:
“Some environmentalists are indeed socialist, but in our experience, few climate scientists are. Moreover, if all environmentalists were socialist, it does not follow that global warming is a myth. One can believe in the superiority of the capitalist system and advocate for market-based solutions to pollution, as many people do, but it does not follow that one should doubt the science that demonstrates the need for such solutions. Acid rain, second hand smoke, the destruction of stratospheric ozone and global warming are all real problems, the real question is how to solve them. Denying their truth does not make them go away. On the contrary, the longer we delay, the worse these problems get, increasing the odds that governments will have to take the draconian actions that conservatives most fear….
Men like Bill Neurenburg were proud of the role they had played in defending liberty during the Cold War, and saw their latter day activities as an extension of that role. They feared that overreaction to environmental problems would provide the justification for heavy-handed government intervention in the marketplace and intrusion in our personal lives. That was not an unreasonable anxiety, but by denying the scientific evidence, and contributing to a strategy of delay, these men helped to create the very situation they most dreaded.”
Want to learn more? How could you not?
Lastly, if a little patronizing in tone, this is the most concise explanation I’ve seen of the “better not more” concept for a new economy.