Let’s not leave conservation to the politicos

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 4, 2010

From all appearances, last month’s gathering in Copenhagen was a gabfest to beat all gabfests.

Clowns and hucksters and shysters from all corners of the planet showed up for what, in the final analysis, was nothing more than a shakedown.

The general attitude was that industrial nations, with the United States at the top of the list, need to write checks to less-developed nations, many of them administered by governments more corrupt than ours. And don’t worry, the United Nations, now one of the most corrupt organizations around, would be in charge of deciding who owes and how much. President Barack Obama dutifully promised we’d ante up, as he seems ashamed of America’s past prosperity.

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Where thinking like that originates is beyond comprehension.

It can’t be disputed that the sweat and ingenuity of the people of this country have fed the world, literally, for decades. We may have consumed, on average, more resources than an alpaca-herder in Argentina, but in doing so American scientists discovered medicines and vaccines to improve the quality of the herder and the herd.

The United States also proved that letting people be as free as they can be, which is the natural desire of humanity, leads to innovation, not anarchy. In other words, people can self-govern. That was never tried until 1776. Mistakes can be and have been made, but people can run things without kings or dictators or plutocrats or nannies in Washington telling us how to tie our shoes.

Back to Copenhagen and the topic at hand: climate change.

It seems to me that it shouldn’t matter in the least whether those who predicted a new Ice Age 20 years ago or those predicting the erasure of humanity due to global warming today have the better argument.

It seems to me we should each care enough about the environment right here where we live to avoid waste and excess and to use renewable resources whenever possible.

The real looming disaster would be leaving this up to the politicos.

The real looming disaster is thinking some kind of solutions can be concocted and imposed that will have a greater effect than what people can do as individuals.

Yes, there need to be regulations on management of national forests, rules about mining, safety standards for power plants. Governments can do those sorts of things.

But even a short trip on a Warren County road will reveal those among us who don’t hesitate to use a roadside as a dump for their household garbage. Yes, there are laws against that. But those laws have been on the books for decades and the dumping, if anything, is worse.

There are now more than 6.9 billion people on the planet. The 50,000 people of this county aren’t a drop in the ocean compared to that number. But if each of us doesn’t do better — because it’s the right thing to do — how can we expect others to conserve?

The future of the planet is not an “issue.” It isn’t about whether one agrees with Al Gore. It doesn’t belong to Republicans, Democrats, tree-huggers, strip-miners, liberals or conservatives. The biggest mistake we can make is to sit back and expect the environment can take all we can dish out, that energy and clean water will always be available.

As the new year begins, each of us can start making a difference. We don’t need to go live in a cave and we can remain indifferent to hucksters at gabfests, but we can clean up our own acts. And we should.