April 24, 2010 in Opinion

Electric car aid unearths misguided reaction

 

On Thursday, Spokane Mayor Mary Verner unveiled a charging station for electric vehicles at one of the City Hall parking spaces. A few jaunty motorists rolled up to plug in their vehicles as part of an Earth Day demonstration.

But to the conspiracy-minded this seemingly innocuous event could be deemed a threat to the city’s sovereignty. Sure, that sounds silly, but try telling that to Spokane Patriots member and former City Council candidate Mike Fagan. He is gathering signatures to put a proposed amendment to the city charter on the November ballot that would revoke memberships and relationships with any group that seeks to take charge of the city.

The chief worry of Fagan and fellow believers is the ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, which became the center of controversy when the city established a sustainability task force. The city pays the same $2,250 annual fee that municipalities around the world pay for ICLEI’s expertise. This also gives the city access to software that examines greenhouse gas levels.

But some people believe that subscribing to the group is tantamount to transporting the mayor’s office to U.N. headquarters. This is nonsense.

It’s true that the policy group was formed at a meeting at the United Nations, but it is not an arm of that organization. It’s true that it believes – along with every relevant scientific academy – that mankind is contributing to global warming. It’s true that it offers advice on how to limit greenhouse gases and that its leaders would be pleased with the proliferation of charging stations for electric cars.

But it is not true that these policy prescriptions are orders from One World headquarters. Just because a city and some other entity sets “sustainable development” as a goal, it doesn’t mean the two have signed a blood oath to stage a coup.

Readers might think we’re exaggerating the Patriots’ concerns, but its document for amending the charter includes worries that government will gradually ban people from rural areas and herd them into cities to better control them. It also bars the city from taking steps to limit greenhouse gases based on “junk science,” meaning the peer-reviewed research that forms the basis of the widely accepted theory of climate change.

Now we’re certainly open to debates about the state’s Growth Management Act and the city’s sustainability efforts, but each item should be debated on the merits, not on the unfounded suspicion that these are edicts from a world body. Government leaders should entertain the best ideas, and it shouldn’t matter if the source is the ICLEI, the Spokane Patriots or the Red Hot Mamas.

If the Patriots want to challenge the science of global warming, they should do so head-on, but it would be embarrassing for the city to continually plunge down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories.

To respond online, click on Opinion under the Topics menu at www.spokesman.com.


There are six comments on this story. Click here to view comments >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email