What in heaven’s name is going on with conservatives? Their principle print media outlet in the nation’s capital, the Washington Times, paid “tribute” to Earth Day with the following disclosures on its opinion page. First, theTimes editors boasted that their newspaper was “printed on 100 percent non-recycled paper.” Then they “proudly” declared that their publication was “printed with toxic crude-oil-based inks,” and that “business operations were powered by 100 percent natural coal.” As the coup de grace, they proclaimed that “any eco-friendliness is entirely coincidental.”
Was this all tongue in cheek? It’s hard to find any humor in their “disclosures.” Besides, there was no suggestion that they were putting the readers on. The statements were presented in a straight forward manner at the end of three anti-Earth Day editorials which assailed President Obama’s environmental policies, the validity of global warming, and the marketability of solar power and other renewable energy sources.
Okay, they didn’t like Obama’s approach. But what could have been their reasoning in trumpeting a devotion to material waste, toxic pollution, and dirty fuels that are heating up the planet? Why exude antipathy towards any environmental protection efforts? It’s difficult to figure, given that their acerbic rhetoric was hardly a way to expand readership and solidify their credibility on the national stage.
Perhaps these editors had become so partisan that they could only view environmental issues through a narrow ideological prism, resulting in robotic opposition to their political adversaries’ every stand, regardless of merit. If that is the case (and there is every reason to believe that it is), they failed to recognize an elemental truth. Reducing the massive amounts of waste, increasing recycling, cleaning up toxic pollution, transitioning from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable ones, and curbing global warming are not liberal or conservative causes; they are national ones.
Trying to politicize environmental protection in a negative way is a formula for ultimate alienation from society’s mainstream. What other outcome could be expected? Reveling in the buildup of municipal waste, toxic chemical contamination, and greenhouse gas pollutants is sick, regardless of whether the Washington Times editors were jesting or dead serious.
Edward Flattau is an environmental columnist in Washington, D.C. and author of the forthcoming book, Green Morality, scheduled for publication this summer. Telephone (202) 363-1270. Address: Suite 609, 1330 New Hampshire Ave., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036