On the Idaho ranch where I was born and spent my early years what we now call lunch was called dinner and what we now call dinner was called supper and no one was entitled to an opinion at either occasion unless you could present a supportive argument.
My parents and especially my late father would have heartily agreed with a post that addressed that effect a few days ago by Dr. Patrick Stokes of Deakin University on The Conversation, which hosts independent analysis and commentary from academics and researchers.
What makes it hard today for any moderate Independent such as I am is that far too many people along the continuum of other political ideologies spout their opinions as though they were preferences for a favorite color or an article of faith or a loyalty oath that should be sheltered from any need for justification.
I find little of value during sound-bite political campaigns so I turn instead for arguments occurring within ideologies. Let me give just two examples.
Conservatives today, which comprise nearly all Republicans, appear in lock-step denial when forsaking conservation, environmental stewardship or the use of carbon credits to roll back climate change, which are ironically all concepts initially spawned by that movement.
Any queries to defend those reversals are usually met only with a repetition of the stance as though everyone listening, including the questioner, is somehow hard of hearing. And then any further attempt to seeking an understanding is dismissed in a huff as if it were disrespectful.
The best way to learn more about conservatives and the environment is to look deeper within that ideology and the thoughtful counter-arguments presented by ConservAmerica, also known until last spring as Republicans for Environmental Protection, formed in 1995.
There you learn that creating a market solution such as carbon credits which were designed to more rapidly and urgently roll back climate change are not some kind of liberal conspiracy but something proposed by Republican Presidents Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush.
Similarly, just as the majority of Democrats are moderate, not liberal, the majority of those in the environmental movement are far more diverse in opinion than it may at first seem. Driven by the excesses of resource exploitation, the environmental movement can often seem to take things to an extreme.
Take the move to ban plastic bags for instance. Beneath the appearance of unanimity of opinion in that regard are voices within the movement who question those such as Stephen Joseph and his seemingly contrarian Save The Plastic Bag Coalition.
Joseph earned his credibility by leading the charge to eliminate trans fats. Studies show that the more detached people become from deep thinking, the more likely they are to become conservative. Joseph is challenging liberals to continue to think deeply especially about issues considered to be “slam-dunks.”
“Paper or plastic?” isn’t a trick question and the answer isn’t simple. It has been estimated that we go through 100 billion plastic bags every year, requiring 12 million barrels of oil to produce and costing retailers about $4 billion which is passed on to customers. Estimates are that Americans use about 10 billion paper bags a year, resulting in the cutting down of 14 million trees if not produced from recycled pulp.
Banning plastic bags in some communities and laws in states such as California have led to nation-wide awareness of the need to recycle not only plastic shopping bags but also dry cleaning covers, shrink wrap and shipping filler used to create composite decking and fencing by companies such as TREX and LifeCycle.
However, paper products are not only the most widely recycled items (more than 63%) but they continue to be the largest single component of municipal landfills where they convert into methane, a greenhouse gas with 23 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide.
Plastic bags, by comparison, occupy only .04% of space in landfills and take much longer to degrade, which is a good thing. Joseph points out that “even though consumers choose plastic bags 4 out 5 times over paper, paper bags take up 1.0% of landfill space, which is more than twice as much as plastic bags.
It is amazing what can be revealed when ideologies debate within their own belief parameters rather than being frozen into partisan gridlock or when non-experts are allowed to trump experts without being required to present supportive arguments in a news media obsessed with faux-balanced coverage.