Ron Johnson: Friend of Big Oil, foe of the glaciers
Because I'm a pinko commie liberal, I just got an official press release from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in my email lambasting Republican candidate for Senate, Ron Johnson, for his stance on the environment.
In it, the DPW claims that "Multimillionaire U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson continued his head in the sand approach to the environment this week telling Green Bay radio talk show host Jerry Bader this week, 'I'm glad there is global warming.'"
But surely that had been taken somewhat out of context. I mean, I would expect a Tea Party courting politician to deny climate change all-together, but to actually revel in its presence? That seemed odd.
So I listened to the whole interview and, taken in context, it turns out what Johnson said was even more ridiculous than that.
Somehow, Johnson manages to both disbelieve in manmade climate change and support global warming, all while completely misunderstanding the actual science behind it. It's a real, if confusing, accomplishment. I'll give him that.
Here's what Johnson said, when asked whether he agreed or disagreed that "man-caused global warming is a proven fact":
I totally disagree...I'm always surprised that people think this is the sweet spot in global history in terms of this is where we should be climate-wise. We live in Wisconsin I'm glad there's global warming or we'd be standing on top of a 200 ft. thick glacier. So I think it's absolutely not proven, and for us to be contemplating fixing something that is not proven is absurd.
Ron's right, of course, when he expresses gratitude for not living during an Ice Age. I don't envy our ancestors who had to survive all that. But what baffles me is how he goes from arguing that we aren't in a "sweet spot" in terms of ideal climate right now, to noting how glad he is not to live during the Hundred Years Winter.
Fact is we do live in a "sweet spot" of climate at the moment. While homo sapiens have existed for hundreds of thousands of years, it's only been during the last 10,000 years or so that humans have been able to proliferate and advance a number that correlates fairly directly with the end of the last glacial period. All of that is to say, we've become who we are during a relatively brief window of temperate climate.
I see what Johnson is going for in his statement, though. It's a fairly clever tack. He's giving tacit acknowledgement to the science that overwhelmingly shows an increase in global mean temperatures over the last 50 years. But he's also saying that it's all part of a natural cycle, thereby shirking any responsibility to address the issue. Johnson and his ilk are claiming to be all for warming because obviously the only alternative is another glacial period.
Of course, he's dead wrong. Not only that, but he and others who espouse similar beliefs are dangerously wrong. Honestly, even if you insist on denying climate change as a whole, only an idiot would deny that humans can and are having an adverse impact on our environment. You've only to look as far as the litter-strewn highway running through your town, or down to the Gulf of Mexico, where one of the largest, man-made ecological disasters of all time is still unfolding.
Oh, but Johnson has a solution for that, too! Drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most pristine and fragile ecosystems in the nation. Dave Westlake, the other Republican running for Feingold's seat, also supports this idea, going so far as to claim that, "History shows that we can do this safely. We've had one disaster, one terrible disaster. But everything else has been done successfully and safely for years."
Apparently Westlake was asleep during that whole Exxon Valdez thing in '89.
I don't know if these guys have simply missed the big ol' clue that's being lobbed at their heads, or if they're choosing to ignore it so as to make themselves look better to the rightwing base. Either way, they're both exceptionally wrong and, I can only hope, part of a dying breed of political and social thought.
Raw feelings over raw milk
The jury's still out on an official scientific consensus as to whether or not raw milk is more nutritional than when it's pasteurized, but that hasn't stopped plenty of people from jumping on the raw bandwagon.
Unfortunately for them, Gov. Doyle last month vetoed a bill that would have expanded the legal selling of raw milk for a trial period. Current law allows for a very small amount of consumption and sales:
...state law says that the incidental sale of raw milk is legal. The law also allows farm owners, their family members and employees to drink raw milk.
Nearly a decade ago, state agriculture officials issued a ruling that enabled people who bought membership interest in a dairy that had a milk license that was either incorporated or a limited liability corporation to buy raw milk from the dairy.
The bill that Doyle vetoed would have opened up raw milk sales to outside customers, provided they bought it directly at the producing farm and retail store sales would still have been illegal.
It was widely supported around the state, but consumer health advocates and big dairy industry interests succeeded in dissuading the governor from passing it.
I suspect there's middle ground to be found in all of this. Me personally, I don't think I'd make a habit of drinking raw milk. But that's because I've made the personal decision that the risks outweigh any potential benefits. I believe that choice should be left up to the individual consumer, but I do agree that sales should be limited to small, well-regulated (that is, held to a very high standard of sterilization and cleanliness) farms and kept out of stores.
That means holding the proper licenses as well, which is why I'm not terribly sympathetic with certain of the farmers currently fighting the law specifically Vernon Hershberger. The Sauk County dairy farmer failed to renew his license back in February, and then didn't return a state questionnaire about the situation. And he's somehow surprised that state inspectors showed up to shut him down?
Both sides need to come to the table on this one. And if I was a big raw milk advocate, Hershberger's tactics wouldn't exactly endear him to my cause.
Because, provided state inspections of the facilities are done frequently and accurately, responsibility for the results of drinking the raw milk should be solely on the shoulders of the farmers and consumers. If they get sick, that sucks, and if not, hooray! But it's their decision.
I think a noble goal of any society would be to strike a balance between personal responsibility and liberty, and using regulation to make sure no one abuses the system. Doing so can certainly be tricky, but I don't see raw milk as being one of the harder cases.