But in the early days of commercial electricity, a public relations campaign against one competing technology was in full force. Who manipulated public sentiment about new alternating current (AC) electricity generation for their own gain, much like organic soap peddlers are doing today with their efforts promoting scare journalism about genetically modified food? Thomas Edison was the US 'conservative' populist who told consumers they would all be electrocuted by the progressive, futuristic, scientific, new and unproven refinements developed by Nikola Tesla and others at GE rival Westinghouse. Was he right? Sure, technically. AC power could be dangerous - so could DC. But Edison left out that DC part and got busy electrocuting dogs to scare the public about a competitor. Potential in physics is how we get electricity and thus electric potential can do good or bad things. So it goes with the potential of food science and inciting public fear and doubt; genetically modified foods have harmed no one while organic processed foods have sickened tens of thousands and killed hundreds. Yet the public is being deceived into believing food science is a problem rather than a gateway to the future.
Who wants to live without alternating current and instead have a power station every 500 feet today? No one, but modern-day progressives are ironically conservative and easily scared about science much as people of the late 1800s were, insisting that the future is too terrifying and we should retreat to the comfortable past.
Sticking with our Tesla metaphor, modern activists of today would basically ban modern electricity if they could - but they know they can't do that with GM foods, since science has shown GM foods haven't harmed anyone, even pets. Instead, they want to create warning labels, but only for the foods they want to penalize. There is no corporate organic brand in restaurant food that can be helped by penalizing GM food, for example, so the lawyer who wrote the Proposition 37 language exempts restaurants - they can serve all the GM food they want - and taking on alcohol would quickly doom the legislation in the minds of voters, so that is wisely avoided as well. Also exempt from 'truth in labeling' and transparency about what we eat? Organic food.
Instead, the only products with warning labels will be in stores where - surprise - you will see one of the competing exempt organic brands that the Prop 37 PR campaign financiers sell for a higher cost. They want you to buy food that has been shown to have no nutritional benefit over traditionally farmed produce and no environmental benefit over traditional farming. Organic is just a different process, like being kosher, but with a lot better marketing. Like being kosher, organic food simply has its religious adherents. Even Dr. Andrew Weil, one of the Four Horsemen of the Alternative, can't find a reason to say kosher food is better for you, though.
Mother Nature is random. Mother Nature is fickle. Mother Nature is, basically, kind of a bitch.
12,000 years ago as the Ice Age ended, we suddenly had a lot more water. Mankind adjusted to that. Climate continues to change, and certainly mankind has helped move that along - in Haiti, there is only 2 percent of the forest cover left, not because of corporations but because people whacked down the trees to make charcoal to try and live better lives. Deforestation has also hit more than 20 percent of the Dominican Republic. As a result of a confluence of some man-made and numerous whammies from nature, lakes are growing and forcing people from their homes. Knowing that the problem exists, should we do nothing and let nature take its course?
It is positively anti-science to assume that if nature does something nasty, we cannot undo it. It is unnatural for people to live where many live in New Orleans yet when flooding happens during wonderful natural hurricanes, who do people blame? Well, a lot still blame former President George W. Bush whenever possible, he apparently invented hurricanes, but more generally we blame people, not nature. And we don't even blame people for living in risky places, we blame people in government for not holding back natural events.
Lake Enriquillo in the Dominican Republic has had a lot of rain the last few years - some environmentalists will blame climate change by default but it is pointless to do so and make political hay out of the plight of poor people. Global warming did not cause heavy rains a few years ago nor did it cause Tropical Storm Isaac this year - it was fickle Nature and the largest lake in the Caribbean undoing the plans of men just as she has throughout history. In 2006 it had receded to 1984 levels but now it is much larger.
Science is all about not forcing people to stand outside on a rock in a lightning storm. Photo: Shutterstock
Who do we blame, then, if not George Bush or BP? Heavy rain has aggravated the problem of sediment that can fill the lake - canals that drain it are not enough. Haiti's 2010 earthquake could also have shifted faults and altered the hydrology of the area. We can't blame humans for earthquakes, they don't even have fracking in Haiti. We can blame humans for blocking science with lawsuits in the US or, in the case of Haiti, for propping up corrupt governments that do nothing about an obvious problem that science can fix.
Food, energy and engineering a better world are all manageable science problems, not reasons to abandon science and go back to sacrificing people and animals to natural gods and hope for random results. Nature doesn't listen to public relations efforts.