Priceless campaign ad No. 112 against Tom Corbett: His nominee to head the Department of Environmental Protection stating climate change isn’t harmful.
Unlike so many political commercials that deliberately mislead or outright lie, this one will be clear cut, right out of the donkey’s mouth (the animal fits, even though he’s a Republican). Chris Abruzzo, the guv’s pick for DEP secretary, actually told that to the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
“I’ve not read any scientific studies that would lead me to conclude there are adverse impacts to human beings, animals or plant life at this small level of climate change,” Abruzzo said.
He would be right, except for these: Significant human health problems; melting polar ice caps; warming oceans; rising sea levels; species that have gone extinct; animals appearing in regions where they’ve never been before; and extreme weather patterns resulting in record storms, floods and droughts, all associated with climate change.
Therefore, since advocating such a viewpoint about Earth’s global warming is incomprehensible, maybe Abruzzo was talking about climate change on another planet. Uranus perhaps?
The immediate implication is a no-brainer. It’s the latest nail in Corbett’s political coffin, which already has a record-setting number of career-ending spikes in it.
The more troubling aspect is that yet another Republican believes human activity plays little or no role in climate change caused by global warming, and therefore, the issue doesn’t need further addressing. It’s no wonder the GOP finds itself on the losing end of so many elections, since its position alienates the Great American Middle, who always decide general elections.
That’s not to suggest that Republicans should adopt a different position because it would help them win, but because it’s common sense.
That the Earth is warming is indisputable. The question is what’s behind that change. Is it a cyclical phenomenon occurring every 500 or 1,000 years, or more? Quite possibly, but difficult to ascertain since accurate record keeping didn’t begin until relatively recently.
Or is it because human activity has pumped hundreds of billions of tons of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere?
The rational answer is both. So why not err on the side of caution — reasonably — to cut down on emissions while protecting American jobs and economic competitiveness?
Sounds logical enough, but it’s not easy when both sides cling to extreme positions, whether its espousing job-killing proposals or claiming adverse impacts don’t exist.
An American living in Mexico City was experiencing respiratory distress and, upon examination in the U.S., was told she needed to quit smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. There was only one problem. She had never smoked.
The unchecked pollution emanating from our southerly neighbor and most of the world’s manufacturing nations are wreaking havoc on people’s health and the environment. And since air and water currents don’t adhere to political boundaries, rampant pollution affects everybody.
It’s in our interest to solve these problems, so here’s how we can:
1.) Scrap our trade policies. The Unites States has made stellar progress over the last several decades in cutting down on pollution. Lake Erie was once a dead zone, and the Cuyahoga River caught fire because of the widespread industrial waste that oozed into it, yet, now these waterways are success stories because Americans were committed to cleaning up the environment. That effort continues, but it’s not without cost.
By definition, it’s more expensive to operate a factory when adhering to strict environmental regulations, an issue compounded when competing with overseas companies who have no such laws to follow (or where they are unenforced).
We can’t physically force sovereign nations to cut back on pollution and institute environmental regulations on par with ours, but we can force their hand by leveraging our position as the world’s largest economy. But to do that, we must scrap trade policies that sell out America and leave our companies at a major disadvantage. Free and fair trade sound nice, but we have neither, and that must change.
From the threat of tariffs to the elimination of foreign aid and military support, we have the muscle. But we need the will. Money talks, and since we have more than anyone else (at least for now), we need to leverage that advantage to level the environmental playing field. In doing so, everyone wins.
2). Never sign a treaty that restricts America’s carbon emissions while giving “developing” nations a free pass. In addition to the devastating impact it would have on American jobs, such treaties (such as Kyoto) are only a finger in the dike. We aren’t the unchecked polluter, and continue to become “greener,” so why penalize Americans for doing the right thing?
3.) No unfunded government mandates. Sure, reducing a factory’s emissions is important, but having the government mandate a billion-dollar scrubber be installed in a finite period of time results in job loss, lack of growth (and hiring), and for some companies, a one-way ticket out of America. Tax credits and market-based incentives for such pollution control initiatives are an infinitely better solution.
The government will never gain converts by taxing them into submission; instead, it needs to incentivize them to play ball. Many companies want to go green and reduce their carbon footprint, but can do so only if the measures they undertake are cost-effective. To help ensure that, Congress must reduce the world’s highest corporate income tax. Failure to do so is a tragic disincentive for corporations to become more environmentally responsible.
4.) Don’t listen to anything Al Gore says. No disrespect to the inventor of the Internet, but why should we follow someone who proselytizes the virtues of greenness and the evils of the gas combustion engine, yet whose carbon footprint is larger than Montana?
5.) Use more natural gas — a lot more — while mandating safe fracking techniques. America sits atop a virtually limitless supply of gas, which produces a mere fraction of oil’s emissions. From power plants to vehicles, the use of natural gas would not only substantially reduce greenhouse gases, but bolster America’s national security, reducing dependence on Middle Eastern oil barons. This extremely cheap, abundant energy would resurrect our manufacturing base while keeping American dollars where they belong. Here.
6.) Stop ceding the environmental issue to extremists hell-bent on returning America to the Stone Age. Preserving the environment for our children and grandchildren isn’t radical. It’s the right thing to do.
The GOP should take a lesson from Teddy Roosevelt’s playbook, as he successfully epitomized what a true Republican should be: A capitalist not afraid to take on big business that, left unchecked, would run rampant over the environment; a leader who prioritized preservation and responsible stewardship of the land; and a politician who, above all, carried a big stick.
A stick that could be used to whip into shape those who don’t think climate change is a major issue.