Wednesday, February 16, 2011

GOP Lawmaker Touts Earth's Limitless Resources, Indestructibility

A GOP State Representative from Minnesota offered an interesting theological argument this week in an effort to justify his proposal to lift the state's moratorium on the construction of coal-fired power plants. According to Rep. Mike Beard (R), the addition of future fossil fuel power plants is not a cause for environmental concern, as Beard believes that God has blessed humanity with a world that is at once inexhaustible and indestructible. Well, thank goodness, because we seem to be doing our damnedest on both fronts.

Even the most conservative estimates of the planet's fossil fuel reserves acknowledge that remaining oil, coal, and natural gas supplies are finite, although estimates on the remaining amounts of each vary greatly. Rep. Beard, however, appears not to share these concerns. In a recent interview with MinnPost, Beard explained:
"God is not capricious. He's given us a creation that is dynamically stable. We are not going to run out of anything."
So much for the supply problem, but what about the incredible strain our over-reliance on fossil fuels places on the environment? Again, according to Rep. Beard, God has us covered, and shame on you for suggesting otherwise. As Beard elaborated to Minnpost: "It is the height of hubris to think we could [destroy the planet]." Rep. Beard drew from his own childhood experience in Pennsylvania to explain Earth's resilience, even after it has been stripped of its resources:
"Our farm was mined for coal three times...And, now we stand on a point and look over barley and wheat and pines. Did we temporarily disrupt the face of the earth? Yes, but when we were done, we put it all back together again."
When pressed on the issue, particularly in the context of the awesome destructive capabilities of nuclear weapons, Beard told the MinnPost:
"How did Hiroshima and Nagasaki work out? We destroyed that, but here we are, 60 years later and they are tremendously effective and livable cities. Yes, it was pretty horrible. But, can we recover? Of course we can."
Bad science and bad theology are both very real - and in some cases very dangerous - problems, and Rep. Beard has managed to wed the two in order to further the ambitions of one of the most destructive special interest lobbies in our country. Arguing with people who rely on such justifications despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary might feel like banging your head against a wall, but it is vitally important that such claims do not go unchallenged.

The science backing up climate change is there, but we must also work to ensure that religious voices promoting environmental responsibility are being heard. Hopefully Minnesota lawmakers will do the responsible thing and vote down Rep. Beard's proposal to lift the state's moratorium on coal-fired power plants. However, given Rep. Beard's apparent uncanny ability to produce gems like the quotes above - come on, just look at how Hiroshima and Nagasaki worked out - there may yet be a silver lining in the deal for Minnesota's mining industry.

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