The Edge of the Wood

by John Messeder, Nemophilist & Ecological Storyteller

Trust the experts

During the debate last week between Republican incumbent Dan Moul and Democrat challenger Marty Qually, a question was asked about our response to Covid.

Qually pointed out the challenge of getting everyone to believe the science.

“We’ve got to get to a point where we believe the people who are specialists in these areas,” he said. “We believe in the people who make our cars, that they won’t explode on us, but we don’t want to believe the doctors – people who we trust every time we go to get medicine.”

Moul agreed with his opponent about a need for personal responsibility, then added, “When you have elected officials that really don’t know a thing about medicine – they’re not scientists.”

“Don’t let a governor lock you down, put you out of business …,” Moul said.

There was no question presented about what qualifies anyone to know about medicine – or any other science – but apparently, Moul did not believe Gov. Tom Wolf – or any other elected officials worldwide who issued lock-down orders to their citizens – might have had the benefit of medical advice from his staff, cabinet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors across the planet …

I do understand a business owner’s need to keep the money flowing. After all, that is the purpose of any business – not to create jobs or provide medical insurance for the employees – to make money for the business owner. That’s a good thing – making money – because without it we likely would not have restaurants, retail stores, pharmacies or any other sources of stuff we want and cannot or choose not to make at home.

But I object to the apparent premise that profits are more important than lives. Case in Point: scientists have been saying, loudly and often, that climate warming is a big and growing problem and burning fossil fuels is the main cause.

There are ample data showing that carbon dioxide and methane are terrible Greenhouse Gases and that in every stage of fossil fuel use – from drilling to wrest it from the clutches of our planet to burning and emitting its toxic effluent into our atmosphere – we are, figuratively and literally, poisoning ourselves and our children.

Yet a large number of our policy makers have decided the most important results of the process seem to be not the electricity or motor fuel it helps make possible. The most important results, according to many politicians and other policymakers, are the jobs created by the inexorable destruction of our home.

There are safer alternatives. Solar power creates jobs, from manufacturing the components to installing and maintaining the arrays of fans and sunlight-collecting panels that collect the electricity to power our homes and a growing array of vehicles. Livestock and green people-food can be grown beneath the wind and solar arrays. Try that beneath a coal or gas-fired electricity plant.

Restaurants have replaced many of their wait staff with home delivery services – waiters and waitresses now drive to pick up our evening repast and deliver it to our door– although it will be interesting to see how those delivery companies manage the shift to driverless vehicles.

Some of our better-known eateries have begun replacing staff with robots. Some versions squirt ingredients onto our meal as it travels the assembly line, while others, such as Chili’s Rita can show us to our table if we choose to eat in, and even sing a birthday song, when appropriate, to accompany our dessert.

An official with Chili’s parent company, Brinker International, was quoted in April saying program testing had been going on about two years – well before the current much-touted post-Covid labor shortage arrived on the food service scene.

One might wonder whether servicing those robots might result in more jobs, with the higher pay that normally accrues to technologically skilled workers.

We all likely have learned much about how to handle a pandemic – information and experience likely to be useful in the too-near future.   But when our elected leaders turn the subject into a distracting game of political blame, they do not help us with the tribulations – or benefits – to come.

3 Comments

  1. All true. What is truly making me uneasy is that so many with little or no scientific background pooh-pooh the statements of scientists with decades of specialized educations under their belts because they don’t like what they’re being told.

    • Unfortunately, they are proven justified by voters who also don’t listen to the scientists. Part of that, I submit, is from recent generations’ well-learned disrespect for “the elite,” — college-educated rich folks who too often reinforce that disrespect with their own down-nose glance at the lesser formally educated.

  2. Thank you for once again for pointing out what to some of us is an obvious distraction from what really ails all of us. Many of our elected officials have stopped being leaders, if they ever truly aspired to be leaders. Folks that are leaders have a tough time convincing the status quo that what we’re all experiencing is troubling and can be changed to benefit everyone. There’s no app for that.

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