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The left is the ‘party of science?’ Think again

John Stossel has a must-read article up at Reason this week which takes umbrage at the notion that the left is the “party of science.”

It is, after all, the tenth anniversary of the book The Republican War on Science. How often have we heard this tired line from progressives that Republicans/conservatives “deny” — or “are at war” with — science?

The left’s big contemporary boogeyman is global warming climate change. The Salon.com article linked directly above, for example, devotes most of its coverage to it to demonstrate how “out of touch” the GOP is, science-wise.

But … why might many be skeptical of the ardent advocates for “doing something immediately” about global warming climate change?

Possibly this:

Stossel calls out these hypocrites:

Many on the left—including a few of my fellow libertarians—are paranoid about genetically modified organisms. These are crops that have DNA altered to make them grow faster or be more pest-resistant. The left calls that “playing with nature” and worries that eating GMO food will cause infertility, premature aging and a host of other problems.

The fear makes little scientific sense. There is no reason to think that precise changes in a plant’s genes are more dangerous than, say, the cross-breeding of corn done by American Indians centuries ago or a new type of tomato arising in someone’s organic garden. Nature makes wilder and more unpredictable changes in plant DNA all the time.

Yet the left’s fear of GMOs led activists to destroy fields of experimental crops in Europe and, most tragically, bans on GMO foods that might help prevent hunger and malnutrition in African and Asian nations.

He adds: “Leftists often claim to be defenders of progress, but they sound more like religious conservatives when they oppose ‘tampering with nature.'”

Indeed. And speaking of helping impoverished African and Asian countries, consider the disastrous harm Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring foisted upon those areas. How many millions of people could have been saved if not for the DDT hysteria her book spawned?

Then there’s Paul Ehrlich, with whom today’s global warming climate change alarmists share a remarkable affinity. Ehrlich’s book The Population Bomb warned that “In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”

Got that? “In the 1970s …” In a word, “oops.”

Stossel points out that nuclear power is another anathema subject for the left. One would think that with global warming climate change in our collective consciousness constantly (how’s that for some alliteration?), progressives would be all for modern nuclear power generation.

Alas, no. The last nuke plant built in the US is almost twenty years old, but its license was approved prior to the Three Mile Island disaster of 1978 which (irrationally) spooked just about everyone. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission only approved the first new licenses for (new) reactors in 2012 — some thirty years since its last go-aheads.

If we’re so concerned with the planet warming and with weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels, why not devote more resources to some of the latest advances in (safe) nuclear power?

Yours truly happens to believe in global warming climate change, but like many on both sides of the political spectrum I don’t favor drastically altering our lifestyles and economies to deal with it. We all know (I hope) that fossil fuels are finite, after all, and we’ll have to switch to alternatives most probably within a century.

If progressives are so science-oriented, why don’t they trust in science to solve this “problem?” Thorium reactors, and eventually nuclear fusion, can allow us to thumb our noses at oil; not to mention, some discovery years hence may permit us to undo whatever “damage” current CO2 levels have wrought.

Even if we completely halted CO2 emissions today, the gas still would linger in the atmosphere for approximately a millennium, possibly longer. This probably is another reason why calls to “do something immediately” aren’t taken more seriously.

Couple that with some of the biggest screamers about global warming climate change living by a “do-as-I-say not-as-I-do” mantra, and your average joe scratches his head saying to himself “Why should I  give a crap, then?”

Read the full Stossel article.

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IMAGES: The Lost Coaster; iceagenow.info

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.