From a fiscal standpoint, perhaps the most dangerous Democratic constituency are the environmentalists. What one cannot achieve legislatively, one can achieve through the regulatory apparatus of the EPA. As long as liberal nut cases like Carol Browner, Lisa Jackson and Steven Chu are in charge, that threat exists. Fortunately, there are fact checkers who question the premises of the Al Gore crowd. Unfortunately, because of their marriage to the MSM and academia, the message of the fact checkers does not always reach its intended target- the public at large. Occasionally, a story like Climategate receives some notice, but whether that is enough to weaken the voices of the Left remains to be seen
The big cause of the day is, of course, global warming- a theory that pervades the entirety of our federal environmental and energy policies- which became popular with Al Gore's borefest "An Inconvenient Truth" propaganda film that would make Goebbels proud. Leaving aside the fact that this "film" was nothing more than a vehicle for a failed Presidential aspirant trying to reinvent himself since it was discovered he did not invent the Internet, the documentary is full of scientific inaccuracies, falsehoods, and misconceptions. Yet, it is trotted out in our schools as the new Gospel according to Al. We are creating a student body that shows greater empathy with a polar bear than they show towards the economic well-being of their country. Never mind the FACT that the polar bear population has increased over the last two decades despite the late night commercials pleading for money with the picture of that polar bear floating on a piece of ice. Here is a little fact liberals won't tell you: that is how polar bears generally get from point A to point B. Another inconvenient fact: the Canadian government actually increased the number of permits for polar bear kills among Inuits because their population is increasing.
I remember before Al Gore burst upon the scene, not too long ago the Amazon rain forest was the environmental cause celebre and the great crusade. Today, for every acre of rain forest cut down, we gain 50 acres of rain forest. That fact comes from the New York Times. Why don't environmentalists tell you that carbon dioxide is necessary for life on earth? Why don't people remember their high school biology lessons about photosynthesis and realize this? There is a concerted effort to mislead and mis-educate the public on environmental issues. The fact is that most of these groups would cease to exist if they did not resort to these scare tactics. Fear generates revenues. And these environmental groups have diversified beyond what their names suggest. I remember Greenpeace saving harp seals and intercepting whaling vessels, but somewhere along the line they transformed themselves into an anti-nuclear group. I venture that the leaders of environmental advocacy groups are, in fact, quite green- as in the color of money.
Of course, they will trot out their cadre of experts- the IPCC or the National Academy of Sciences- a group of scientists who one day "voted" that global warming existed and that it was manmade. Let's agree to the concept of "global warming" for the sake of argument, but agree that it is a natural phenomena that man can do very little about short of putting a big umbrella over the earth. There is a reason Congress, especially the Senate, resorts to the findings of these so-called experts and fails to debate the issue: because it is far from settled science.
So how do we combat the environmentalists? As I have said, liberals hate facts. Facts and reason are the enemy of the liberal. Grassroots environmental educational efforts can do a great deal of good here. In my area, there is liberal, local columnist- a classic peacenik, anti-nuke type- that rails against nuclear power and wants to see them replaced with solar energy panels and wind farms. Inevitably, he, like others, have to invoke the specter of Three Mile Island. This is an old joke, but it is an incontrovertible fact that more people died in Ted Kennedy's car at Chappaquidick than died at TMI. I find that websites like Heritage Foundation and the like are enormous sources of facts and information about energy and environmental policies that can be used to refute the liberal emotional arguments (the specter of cooling towers, polar bears on ice floes, a dead fish somewhere).
When confronted with objective facts- facts they cannot refute- they usually try to shut down the conversation with some appeal to their authoritative voices, utter some ulterior motive on your part, or trot out some rare occurrence like Chernobyl or TMI or, more recently Japan. As to that final point, remind them that Chernobyl was human error in a collapsing Soviet Union in a plant with serious design flaws, TMI is overblown, and tsunamis are not a common occurrence in places like Illinois and Tennessee. With authoritative voices, remind them that you too have voices of authority to cite. At the very least, why can't my facts reconcile with your facts indicating that we can agree to disagree in which case why disrupt a major economy for a bunch of "maybes?" Ulterior motives- you will be accused of being a lackey for Big Oil. Whether you are or aren't makes no difference because they are going to believe what they believe there, so why argue? Keep to the facts; it will drive them crazy.
The fact is with global warming, thanks to the "shoot yourself in your own foot" antics of Climategate, the public's perceptions are changing. As recently as 2006, 66% of Americans believed reports of global warming were correct or even underestimated. Today, 41% of Americans believe the claims are greatly exaggerated. After going through record cold periods and snowfalls recently, that is little wonder. Of course, they claim that this too is proof of global warming. These same polls indicate that among the 18-29 year olds, they seem to be ignorant of these changes in attitudes: 31% in 2008 said it was exaggerated and the same percentage said that in 2010. The older one is, the more likely one is to believe that claims of global warming are exaggerated. In fact, today 60% of Americans do not believe it is a serious threat.
When all else fails, remind the liberals that the American public, when it comes to environmental issues, cares more about those areas that most immediately impact their lives. In a March, 2011 Gallup poll, for example, the top four rated environmental worries involved water- contamination of soil and water by toxic waste, pollution of rivers, pollution of drinking water, and maintenance of a fresh water supply. Air pollution- traditional air pollution, not carbon dioxide- ranked a close fifth. Coming in ninth and last? You guessed it- global warming. Overall, since 2001 American concerns about the environment have been placed on the backburner. People still worry about it and I think we can all agree that Republicans, Democrats, and Independents want clean air and water, to enjoy open spaces, and to maintain biological diversity. The difference is at what cost?
And that is the final fact we have on our side- economics. Since 1984, when Gallup started to ask the question whether the country should prioritize economic development over the environment, the results have been a resounding no, that the environment should take priority. In March, 2011, they showed the greatest gap favoring economic development over the environment- 54% to 36%. Only three socioeconomic groups were at odds with the public in general- those age 18-29, self-described liberals, and registered Democrats. The difference between Democrats is only 1 percentage point, liberals are hopeless anyway, and the young are victims of the educational system. Additionally, while conservation still is favored over exploitation of domestic fossil fuel reserves, the gap is narrowing. Hopefully once those 18-29 year olds enter the real world and have to drive to work, their attitudes will change. When liberals trot out their cap-and-trade nonsense, frame it in economic terms on a personal level: how much will that cost John Q. Public annually on their energy bill. Can they really afford that extra $1,000 or so every year in order to satisfy some specious argument by tree huggers? Can the struggling family really afford gasoline at $4.50 a gallon? How many green jobs were created in Spain versus how many jobs were lost? How did that cap-and-trade scheme work in Europe (it crashed while they now emit more carbon dioxide than the United States at a faster rate)? Why exactly is it that India and China are excluded from controlling global warming? Assuming the American public decides they can afford these programs, what exactly will be accomplished- we will drop the world's average temperature what percentage of one degree in how many years? When it comes to the environmental concerns of Americans- clean water, adequate supplies, and clean air- why is this EPA dithering away trying to control a naturally occurring compound in the atmosphere? Why can't the EPA stick to its statutory mission- enforcement of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act independent of erroneous concerns over global warming? When liberals can answer these questions in a coherent fashion without resorting to ad hominem attacks or appeals to emotions- when they can refute facts with facts- then maybe then we can listen to them. Until then, attack their premises and their "science" at every opportunity and don't let up. The foot of commonsense is on the neck of the radical environmentalists. Keep it there.