By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index
A few years ago, a prominent politician, in a grudging admission of the reality of climate change, opined that it would be for the good. More living things, he insisted, thrive in warmer weather.
He was right, at least technically.
This was just another argument or rhetorical flourish in a line of persuasion that I had never noticed before, but seems to have become a standard platform of logic – a statement that is, on the face of it, accurate and complete – it also just happens to be completely irrelevant, if not preposterous.
In this case, whether that warmer world is suitable, or even inhabitable by human beings is an entirely different question.
Yes, many living things do thrive in warmer climates. Mosquitoes to bacteria to blood-sucking arachnids and insects to venomous snakes and Lyme disease carrying ticks love a warming climate.
If you love COVID and monkey pox, you are going to love what a warming climate brings us.
If you are a human being who likes to eat, breathe and live a standard human life span, with a modicum of health and security, perhaps not so much.
Just about every one of those creatures mentioned above carries a host of diseases, viruses and debilitating conditions (mostly untreatable) that most of us would rather not encounter. Most of those conditions were rare to non-existent just a few years ago, but for a variety of reasons, from habitat disturbance to shifting weather to ever more exotic pets, our encounters with nature are a bit more intense, even intimate, than they used to be.
From bats to snakes and “murder hornets” to monkeys and mosquitoes, we are not as separate from nature as some of us thought we were.
I mention this, because officials and politicians at all levels, imagine themselves experts in topics and issues in which they have little or no understanding or knowledge – and they set policies and make laws based on what they think – or imagine – is reality.
Characteristics of a popular politician: a horrible voice, bad breeding, and a vulgar manner. – Aristophanes
In any standard profession, law or medicine for example, uninformed, deceptive, even preposterous statements like this would be met with disbarment or at least some kind of censoring, but in politics, statements like this are often the basis of one’s political platform – and future.
Politics, it has been said, is the one field where qualifications, aptitude, even inclination are not terribly relevant – certainly not the defining features of the job.
It takes one set of skills to campaign and run for office and an entirely different set of skills to do the task at hand.
And now, in the days running up to a mid-term election, we can expect crazier and crazier exclamations.
Pontificating about topics far from one’s area of expertise might “energize the base” but statements based on ignorance or misunderstanding, by definition, will not lead to fair, consistent, enduring laws and policies.
Elections, in too many cases, have become glorified popularity contests with ideology, if anything, as the primary active ingredient.
Competence, good will, common sense, basic decency, even a willingness to serve the greater good all too often become lost in the fray. And their loss can be costly – even dangerous to all of us.
I hear commentators and leaders say things that are monumentally stupid and uninformed on a near constant basis.
And I see crowds cheer them on.
These are media figures and decision-makers that, at minimum, should know better.
One politician was recently bemoaning the fact that Chinese business interests are buying US farmland.
In his best grown-up toddler voice, he exclaimed, “Why can they buy our farmland when we can’t buy theirs?”
The answer might have something to do with the USA being a capitalistic system where virtually everything is for sale to the highest bidder, while China has an entirely different state-controlled economic system.
Also, China, with the world’s highest population, might have a vested interest in securing a globally diverse food supply.
As a side note, thanks to the pandemic, massive floods, and insect infestations, China has been on the verge of a food shortage for several years now.
In 2020, for example, the United States was China’s biggest exporter with more than 9 million tons of soybeans, 100,000 tons of wheat, and 65,000 tons of corn.
Investing in American farmland, from their perspective, is one of the most stabilizing strategies they could employ.
But, as always apparently, a few minutes of thought does not “energize the base” the way a few nutty, paranoid conspiracy theories might.
This is probably my bias as a retired teacher, but I think anyone who runs for political office should be required to pass a test of basic competence when it comes to economics, history and maybe even political science or public administration.
I think we all know of a few (or many) candidates who would excluded by a test of even the most basic rudiments of our Constitution and our political processes.
We’ve become so accustomed to inane statements and bizarre analogies that we can barely filter out what is true, let alone what matters.
A true visionary is someone who sees what is coming, not just responding to what hit them.
One thing to keep in mind with statements like this; what is the intended message? Is this politician an advocate for “more living things”? Even those that threaten us? Is “more” always better?
Maybe it’s just me, but I’d prefer a little more thought to our laws and policies than just the numbers.