As an attorney, one phrase I hear a lot of from friends and acquaintances is “I’m not a lawyer, but...” The friend usually goes on to give me some off-the-wall legal opinion which is usually incorrect. Recently, I’ve noticed a similar phrase coming from mostly conservative politicians. It goes, “I’m not a scientist, but...” and then they go on to explain why they either don’t believe there is global warming caused by human activity, or they give some inane reasoning which really doesn’t make sense.
It’s my fervent belief the reason for the self-expressed doubts about global warming and human activities is that folks like the Koch brothers are fearful it might cost them a nickel. A recent interview of Senator Rubio of Florida is the perfect example of the convoluted reasoning attempting to dodge the issue of why Republican conservatives are so bound to do nothing about global warming. Senator Rubio started off with the same phrase stating he is not a scientist; but his reasoning went on to explain that no law that could be passed could help the environment. The environment is worldwide and why should we punish investors and plant operators in the United States while India, China and others are pumping poison into the atmosphere on an hourly basis.
First of all, if Senator Rubio is not a scientist and knows nothing of the facts about global warming, why shouldn’t he accept the word of the vast majority of scientists throughout the world who have expressed over and over again that we are gradually lending to the ultimate destruction of our planet? Next, Senator Rubio and other Republicans’ reasoning is that since we can’t fix global warming with laws in the United States, we should simply do nothing. That’s about as crazy as proposing that since we can’t stop crime with laws, why don’t we just dismantle police forces.
I have learned a lot by living so long and probably I have grown up in a real laboratory concerning laws and pollution. Senator Rubio is dead wrong. I know from experience that laws can help save the atmosphere, particularly here in my own neighborhood.
I recall as a child while growing up in the shadow of two major refineries there were days when the odor from the refinery was so bad it could almost make you sick. In fact I knew of young kids who would have episodes with asthma brought about by the toxic air emitted from those refineries. I’m pleased to say that as the years have gone by, and refineries have been forced by law to do something about emissions. The odors no longer exist around Port Arthur, and I know of very few young people who have asthma attacks brought about by refinery emissions.
Another prime example of how laws can improve things is something I learned while flying to and from Austin in my airplane. Time 'was when I would fly over Houston and the city was enveloped by an orange-yellow fog emitted from a Houston steel company. On any windless day, you could almost count on flying over or through this yellowish fog. The EPA took over, imposed serious rules and regulations on what could be emitted into the atmosphere, and the yellowish fog disappeared.
While I agree that laws passed by the United States government or the various states of the union cannot cure worldwide pollution brought about by uncaring smog producers, the old adage comes to mind that every journey begins with one step. It seems to me that as stewards appointed by God to care for this planet, we should be willing to at least take the first step protecting it. We owe it to future generations and to ourselves, if we are concerned about our health and that of our children and grandchildren. It is time for us to face up to those who would make a few more dollars’ profit at the expense of rising seas, cancer, breathing problems and an unhealthy atmosphere in which we all must live.