DISCLAIMER: I firmly acknowledge that climate change is real and is being adversely impacted by human activity. The planet is much older than 6,000 years. Fred Flintstone never cruised through Bedrock on a stegosaurus (However, I think Mr. Slate is the CEO of a rolling hot mill in my hometown). If you disagree with these statements outside my seemingly obvious parenthetical attempts at humor, please see my views on improving math and science education in our schools or just visit www.keithrothfus.com and thank you for visiting.
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE INTO FACTS
When we want to make changes to our planet, our global economy or our society, we must always remember that these changes occur within a greater complex adaptive system. The largest complex adaptive system on our planet is our environment. We interact with it, affect it and change it every second of every day. We alter its composition with every breath we take, bite we swallow and device we turn on. Anyone who thinks that the chemical reactions created in all of our daily activities do not impact the composition of our planet, from processes of power generation to methane gas created by cattle, is assuming an outdated, uneducated, and rather dangerous perspective of reality. To deny this is to deny that our planet is an interactive, ever changing system which is completely ridiculous.
Environmental policy has become so ideological and gridlocked that a number of elected officials have begun denying that climate change even exists. When our lack of solutions on any issue becomes so vast that the only foreseeable way to fill the void is to bury our head safely in the sands of denial, we have reached a state of serious alarm. Environmental policies should be designed to encourage technological innovation in the free market and reward continuous improvement. Arbitrarily creating standards that are disconnected from our current technological capacity is not the best way to encourage innovation or solve a problem.
Organizations like the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD), which aligned environmentalists and drilling companies together to set mutually agreed upon standards, are the future of effective, inarguable policy development. The CSSD has set a goal of continuous improvement through problem solving, shared learning and a common respect for the idea that all drilling should strive to achieve zero contamination of air, water and ground. As a member of Congress, I will work directly with opposing industry representatives to provide similar policy coordination for all the issues facing the 12th Congressional District.
I also support restricting trade with nations that don’t meet the minimum human rights, workplace safety, gender quality and environmental standards we maintain in the United States of America. “It’s just cheaper” isn’t a trade policy. We aren’t striving to be the “cheapest” nation on the planet, we are striving to be the best. Our standards are only as good as the lowest we tolerate amongst our trade partners. Raising environmental standards at home does nothing if our trade partners are producing carbon and particle emissions so extensive they can be photographed from space. By restricting trade with countries performing beneath our standards, we bring jobs back home, restore our nation to a healthy rate of economic growth, encourage an improved environment throughout the globe and stop poisoning our children’s air, water, ground and bodies – and that is pro-life throughout the lifespan.
Moving beyond the partisanship that divides us, toward the inarguable goals that unite us, regardless of how small they may seem, can set us on a path to solve real problems in a way that helps us develop fair trade policies and create jobs while advancing environmental standards through evidence based practices and free market incentives. But you cannot solve a problem you deny exists. And, as we say in the recovering community, the first step is to acknowledge the problem.
"Our problems are manmade and therefore they can be solved by man."
"Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."
- John F Kennedy
The prophetic words of a great leader revealing the fundamental bonds that we all share, resonate as much today as they did decades ago. With each day that passes, this small planet that we all inhabit together feels a little smaller, our connections a little closer and our problems, more similar. I challenge every American to look beyond the petty differences of wealth and class warfare and see the commonality of greatest aspirations that overcome us when faced with our own mortality. Who among us, when contemplating our own contributions to human history, responds with "I wish I had paid less in taxes or taken healthcare away from more Americans?" Those ideas are not befitting the legacy of the greatest nation on Earth. They are mere distractions from the vision our forefathers gave us and diminish the charge that Democracy rests on our shoulders.