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Trust the experts

During the debate last week that included Republican incumbent Dan Moul and Democrat challenger Marty Qually, a question was asked about the state’s 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 or her staff, cabinet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or 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, but 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.

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John Messeder is a freelance reporter and photographer who resides in Cumberland Township. He may be contacted at john@johnmesseder.com

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Henry Cahall
Henry Cahall
1 year ago

I hesitate even to write this. The battle-lines (an apt metaphor in Gettysburg) have long since been drawn on these issues, but hope seems to spring eternal, if not to convince the opposition, at least to suggest that those who have a countervailing point of view are not Luddites with their heads firmly planted in the sand. The problem with “trusting the experts”, either with respect to Covid or climate change, is that one group of experts seems to spend an inordinate amount of time shutting up and shutting down the equally qualified experts who disagree with them, thus manufacturing… Read more »

John Messeder
John Messeder
1 year ago
Reply to  Henry Cahall

Some days are warm, some are cool. Winter brings lots of snow, except when it doesn’t, which has been happening with increasing frequency. Overall, the trend has been toward warmer. A warmer planet means warmer oceans that feed more severe storms more often. Northern lakes freeze later and thaw earlier. Growing zones are moving northward, as are coastal fishing grounds. Worldwide, droughts are plaguing, glaciers are melting, sea level is rising. Also, I know what makes a greenhouse work. If I am wrong, if I have been trusting the wrong experts, we all get cleaner air and water. If you… Read more »

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