Thursday, April 03, 2014

By 2-to-1 Young Americans Put Environment First

My mind was on Alaska twenty-five years ago as I accepted the position to help start the community marketing agency for Durham, North Carolina, a position and career from which I retired several years ago.

The oil tanker Exxon Valdez had just run aground in Prince William Sound, a spectacular area I visited often during my near decade living in the Great Land.  It spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil, a disaster that spread over an 11,000 square mile area.

Even before the accident, by nearly 4-to-1, Americans back then ranked the environment over economic development, including a majority of Republicans.

An article in High Country News reminds us that scientists estimated it would take 15 years for the Sound to recover.  They were wrong.  It make take more than 30 years.  The damage to the livelihoods along the sound is irreparable.

As one fisherman lamented recently, “I’m just kind of waiting for the end, you know?  One legacy of the settlement surrounding the spill is that it put in place an ecosystem-monitoring program called Gulf Watch Alaska.

In the most recent Gallup poll taken this month, Americans again put the environment ahead of economic development, possibly sobered in the aftermath of fracking contamination, coal ash and chemical spills.

You can mark the purge of the Republican Party of its moderate and liberal wings by poll results showing a steep dive in concern about the environment after the year 2000, ranking it below the economy by 2001.  Still, even today, 1-in-3 affiliated with that party give the nod to the environment.

Especially interesting from this year’s results is that Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 rank the environment over economic development by two to one.  Every age group gives the nod to the environment except those over 65 years of age.

As a moderate Independent, I pay close attention to ConservAmerica, Republicans who are gradually growing a greener party.  Unlike those in my state who notoriously moved to outlaw any mention of global warming, there are Republicans such as The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum who are worried.

Of course, climate change has been politicized by people who are increasingly employed as and referred to as “professional confusers.”  Here is a link to a paper I read recently quantifying the consensus that global warming is due to humans and another clarifying what we know.

My favorite resource on climate change is The Consensus Project website.  But George Marshall who blogs about climate change denial wrote recently using the Ukrainian crisis and the annexation of Crimea as an example of how it isn’t just about territory but used as a pretense for consolidating control of linguistics as well.

That is what makes being a moderate and a political Independent so difficult at times, seeing through professional confusers who politicize linguistics on all sides.

To paraphrase 20th-century humorist Don Marquis, Moderates, and especially Independents, must always remember:

“An idea should never be held responsible for the people who believe in it.”

No comments: