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Tea Party targets sustainability, natural, conscientious consumers

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Here's why the Tea Party thinks issues key to the natural industry lie somewhere between irrelevant and a hoax.

Pollution sucks. Clean air is cool.

This much we know, right?

Surprise: The biggest nouveau political movement thinks sustainability, the enviro ethic, natural everything and conscientious consumers are tyrannical, sovereign-sucking, freedom-killing socialist commie Fascists.

That’s right, the Tea Party thinks you—and everything you stand for and think smart and wise—lies somewhere between irrelevant and a hoax.

This issue was raised when a new study came out this past week suggesting that the massive die-off of bee colonies across North America and Europe is being caused by pesticide use. Bees, in case you missed it, play a foundational role in human existence by pollinating plants; without bees, we would have no food to eat. Rachel Carson, author of the book Silent Spring that helped launch the modern environmental movement, is shaking her head, mumbling, “Told you so.”

The reason the Tea Party is so nonchalant about the bee colony collapse is the same reason they cry “Hoax!” when talk about global warming comes up. As one flyover-country Tea Party leader cynically told me, “I don't know if the bee population is going down, or if it is what the reason is, but I know that the solution is global government.”

And that’s all you need to know about why science has become a partisan issue in the last decade—because the solution to global warming, and potential bee colony collapse, is the same solution that solved acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer—that is, a coordinated worldwide effort to phase out the offending industrial pollutant. But even though this is a proven winner in solving problems, if you have any large-scale effort, be it national regulations to cut sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants that resurrect dead lakes or global regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions that keep the foundational climate upon which human civilization was built, this means you are pulling decision-making away from the rugged individual and to the “global government.”

So even if (read: when) this study can be replicated and fingers the pesticide industry and its use in particular of today’s modern pesticides, what are we supposed to do but ban their use worldwide? But since that will require collective action—antithetical to corporatist-sucking so-called conservatives (I say so-called because they clearly are not interested in conserving anything)—the response will be that the bees are not really dying, and if they are, it has nothing to do with human industrial activity. Rinse. Repeat.

The New York Times ran a story this week, before the honeybee issue even came up. The story detailed initiatives the Tea Party has thwarted across the country, including to install smart meters in homes to help consumers save money by cutting energy use: “This data will be used against you!” said a Tea Partier; to preserving open space lands: “a government lock-up!”

Target: Naturals

Farmers tend to be can-do, fix-it kind of guys. My uncle had an old red tractor that had to be older than dirt, but the thing never stopped working, no doubt because of endless tinkering to its moving parts. Kind of like an old hippie friend of mine who owned a red VW microbus, which meant he ipso facto was also a master mechanic. So I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised (though I was, indeed, shocked) to hear this Tea Partier solution to the honeybee problem. First, he quoted Einstein, who said that if honeybees were to go away, because of their vital value in pollinating flowers and hence foods, humanity itself would last only three more years. And then he said this:

“If this is becoming an issue, or may become an issue, for food crops we better also look into pollen-spreading machines and sprayers. The boys at John Deere would be up to the task. Then artificial pollen growing and harvesting. We have a lot of solutions, I just don't know if we have a problem.”

I told him he is officially banned from ever visiting Boulder again.

Because this town—and, disclaimer, this company, New Hope Natural Media—is on the vanguard of opposition of GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, and for organic agriculture, not using chemical, synthetic herbicides and pesticides. That’s in part because GMOs are developed by chemical or biotech companies that are sold to the public as “feeding the world with more nutritious food” but which actually have nothing to do with nutrition or feeding the world. What they’re really about is private corporations controlling the food supply.

This is actually what ought to be bringing the Tea Party and Occupy movements together, because they both are protest movements railing against loss of freedoms, but the Tea Party blames government while Occupy blames corporations.

GMOs and pollen-spreading machines would mean that things that once were free and natural, like seeds and backyard fruits, are now a patent-protected product. So in the case of honeybee colony collapses, when it’s concluded that pesticides are having another bad unintended consequence, in this case killing off bees, the Tea Party solution is to just move on and get another private corporation to sell the public pollen-spreading machines so that if you want fruit from that peach tree in your back yard, you can’t get it for free anymore but have to pay a corporation for what was once free and natural. Which is fine with you, you say, until, of course, it’s realized that what was once free would now force people all over the world to pay for it because we’ve screwed the pooch with our previous experimentation with irresponsible industrial practices.

It gets back to the law of unintended consequences, especially when they are concerned with efforts to try to improve upon the natural way of the world, which itself usually happens because someone thinks up some money-making scheme that may be valuable for them, but isn’t usually beneficial for either end consumers or, indeed, the natural world.

It’s why conscientious consumers flock to the concept of sustainability—which, apparently, is a Tea Party bugaboo, probably because Obama mentions it from time to time—because it’s all about thinking beyond your own quarterly report and to generations to come as well as things other than humans. When I hear so-called conservatives talk about a “wilderness lock-up” it shows me that they completely misunderstand the concept of wilderness, which is all about giving precedence to the natural, non-human world. Which is to say, it is exactly Not. About. You. And they just can’t wrap their minds around that concept. Letting go of the ego is tricky business.

Is the Tea Party bat-guano crazy? Or are they the last remaining patriots in America? Leave a comment.

Discuss this Blog Entry 10

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 13, 2012

You are making assumptions that tea party people are against natural ingredients, etc. No so. Do some more research before you generalize.

on Apr 13, 2012

So let me get this straight. Todd Runestad had a conversation with one person from "flyover-country" about CCS and he thinks this represents some kind Tea Party official stance on the entire natural products industry?

Todd, this blog post is the most ignorant, poorly written, garbage I have read in a long time. Clearly you just have a problem with the Tea Party and are making stretches and generalization in an attempt to make the Tea Party look bad. You should do your venting, lying, and slandering on a political blog, not here.

I would highly suggest to NewHope360.com that they take this post down immediately.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2012

This comment is right on the money!!! The author of the article has some SERIOUS discernment problems - repent or quit.

Tony d (not verified)
on Apr 13, 2012

This article will not be true as long as I am a member. I promote everything organic, supplements, reduction in food additives and GMO non-nutrient foods, etc. My objective is for them to organize into a force to be reckoned with and for them to change their name to The Green Tea Party

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 13, 2012

It is obvious that the author of this blog is fulfilling his own political agenda. I do not visit this site for extreme political bias, regardless of the politics. If I see another post such as this, I will not be back.

SUZANNE SHELTON (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2012

Apparently I'm the only one who enjoys Todd's tongue in cheek writing style. This is an opinion piece. You disagree so it has to be removed immediately? Wow. How about a rebuttal with that isn't in effect censorship?

I think Todd makes a good point in that coordinated efforts are required to make the kind of change needed to stop the killing off of these essential little critters. And it's been my observation that the effect of the Tea Party on the US political process has been, both directly and indirectly, to remove negotiation and cooperation from the process.

We're facing problems, serious problems. We have to be able to discuss options and work together to find and implement solutions. That must necessarily require hearing things you don't agree with, and not demanding the offending information be immediately removed from your sight. Tantrums are not going to help us find solutions.

Ken Bowman (not verified)
on Apr 15, 2012

Great post. You can pretend that global warming or gravity doesn't exist, but you can't stop either from happening by ignoring them.

Teri (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2012

I'm very disappointed to see this site being used for such a biased political agenda (no matter which direction - right or left)! Not good, New Hope, not good. This is not why I read the articles posted here. How is this helpful to a retailer?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2012

I take offense to this post. I have worked in the dietary supplement industry for 20 years and am a TEA Party activist. Todd is misinformed to a fault. The TEA Party is about preserving personal freedom and responsibility, limited government, fiscal responsibility and the founding principles of the United States. "Sustainability" the new term for the United Nations' Agenda 21; global control is the objection. Todd's statement "A coordinated worldwide effort to phase out the offending industrial pollutant" owns-up to this fact. It rejects the sovereignty of the United States and the United States Constitution and hands it over to a world power. No Thank YOU!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 17, 2012

Maybe you don't live in the Midwest but acid rain, which killed lakes and fishing grounds throughout the region, was solved through regulations on a region-wide scale to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants. Did you feel like your sovereignty was upset then? What about when the hole in the ozone layer over the South Pole was solved through the Montreal Protocol, a global response to phase out CFCs? Did you feel your sovereignty being violated then? We all no that the answer to both of these was no. It should be the same story with global warming, but the whole of the Republican Party, Tea Party included, decided to get in bed with the polluters to politicize science and grow a faux-paranoia that solutions to pollution problems are now somehow an affront to person liberty. Please.

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