To Save the Planet, Would You Give Up Tangerines?

That’s the question that came out of the John Edwards campaign, as reported by the New York Times’ refreshingly straightforward op-ed writer Gail Collins. It’s behind the newspapers pay wall, unfortunately, but let me quote a couple of passages:

John Edwards has a plan to cap carbon emissions, while allowing
businesses to buy the right to go over their quotas. Many people regard
this as the most efficient and politically salable way to reduce
greenhouse gases. But they usually acknowledge that it would make some
products — like small orange fruits that have to be transported a long
way to get to market — more expensive.

“I live in North Carolina; I’ll probably never eat a tangerine again,” Elizabeth [Edwards] said.

This created a big stir in the press covering the campaign. Reporters asked:

Was Mr. Edwards prepared to admit that the public might have to
give up tangerines in order to keep the polar bears from drowning in
the Arctic?

“I’d have to think about it,” [Edwards] said during a press conference later that day.

Ever since Jimmy Carter was (politically speaking) burned alive for suggesting that Americans might be wise to conserve energy, politicians have been afraid to go down that road. Can you blame them?

And yet if we cannot conserve energy, we cannot hope to avoid climate chaos. As crunchy conservative Rod Dreher puts it today, writing from the Dallas area:

In north Texas, they’re building McMansions on the sun-baked plain that
will cost a fortune to cool in our punishing summers. And Americans
wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re going to have to crash hard to
change this habit of mind.

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

One thought on “To Save the Planet, Would You Give Up Tangerines?

  1. The column captured the conflict at the heart of climate change politicking for the candidates — promising emissions policy + promising that it will not change anything about American life. A policy could come at no NET cost, but there will be pluses and minuses all over the ledger. The candidate who’s most serious about the tackling climate change is the one that admits, if we want to address this problem, tangerines just might have to get more expense.


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