Tuesday, March 3

"Nobody Likes Science"

People on the far right don't believe in evolution, global warming or stem-cell research. Most of their opposition is rooted in the fact that these ideas challenge the Bible, which is the oldest book they know...

But...I've discovered that liberals hate science just as much as conservatives, and they talk about it a lot more. They'll reject any study that contradicts their Mother-Nature-is-perfect myth, which is oddly similar to the conservatives' thesis: Both sides think the past was purer than the technologically corrupted present. Except the liberal vision of the idealized past is a pre-insecticide, pastoral paradise where loving animals ran free and people had shameless sex. So, basically the same as the conservatives' version, plus untainted apples and some gay stuff.

Liberals have an irrational fear of inoculation and genetically engineered food, no matter how conclusive the science is on these topics. They believe that the body needs to be detoxified with foot pads, colonics, mud wraps and maple-syrup-and-cayenne-pepper fasts. They take echinacea and Emergen-C, heal themselves with crystals and magnets, and believe that energy flows through different "centers" of their bodies. They practice, I swear, a form of healing massage called reiki in which the masseuse usually doesn't even touch you. I believe my wife and I have a reiki marriage.
It is a truth that many of us ignore: many of the most hard-core liberals are possibly kookier than conservatives when it comes to their beliefs. Case in point: Scientology (do you realize what they actually believe?).

But the bigger danger is a belief in organic production. The term organic has been championed by liberals who see organic as a return to a more sustainable lifestyle and for the reduced environmental impact of organic practices. In reality, although organic production unquestionably reduces the negative impact on the environment compared to traditional agriculture, sustainability is another question. A much more practical solution to minimizing the use of pesticides in traditional agriculture is IPM. If you are wondering what IPM is, you are not alone. According to Wikipedia:

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a pest control strategy that uses a variety of complementary strategies including: mechanical devices, physical devices, genetic, biological, cultural, and chemical management. These methods are done in three stages: prevention, observation, and intervention. It is an ecological approach with a main goal of significantly reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides while at the same time managing pest populations at an acceptable level.

For many of the reasons highlighted in article, IPM gets no love in the media. It seems to have taken on the role of the ugly stepchild - it may be a smarter solution but lacks the glamor of organic, and therefore gets ignored. Conservatives and liberals come together in their resistance to genetically engineered food, and liberals don't want to see any chemicals used, even if it means that 50% or more of the harvest is unsellable/inedible - talk about wasteful! But all studies I've seen show the effects of IPM on the environment to be comparable to the effects of organic production. The advantage of IPM is that it is much more economically sustainable; indeed, if we were to rely on organic agriculture, millions of people would likely starve. On the other hand, the yields from IPM crops can be equal to, or superior to, yields from traditional agriculture. So as we are trying to find ways to feed an ever increasing population, organic agriculture is really more like one step forward and two steps back.

I could go on and on about the benefits of IPM over organic agriculture, but for the sake of time and space, I'll let you find out more for yourself:

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