I'm not linking here, as I don't wish to hold the individual up to what may be perceived as ridicule, but I just ran across--at the time of writing, that is, by the time you see it, this post will have been in the pipeline for several days--a perfect example of how people can have the weirdest mixed bag of ideas, how they can be so smart on some subjects and so easily mislead on others.
It was one of the food bloggers, talking about why food prices are rising. Now, although I may be mistaken, I would say, overall, that this writer has what I might easily term a conservative temperament. I think she's a Christian, though that isn't the focus of her blogging. Certainly, as regards food and eating and agriculture, she's inclined to seek out and preserve the Old Ways. That may be partly why she seems to have accepted the idea that oil--petroleum--is scarce and getting scarcer in this world, and that hence, agriculture that relies on fossil fuels is partly to blame for food prices. That is an assertion that I typically associate with leftist environmentalists, but there it is in a person whose overall temperament seems quite conservative.
Now, I neither doubt nor disparage for an instant the idea that backyard gardening and local agriculture are great ideas and a tremendous help to a healthy, ecologically-sound table. So, in practical terms, I suppose that the following caveat would make no difference to either of us in terms of what we actually do. It's more a difference in why.
The reality is that Paul Erlich thought we would be out of oil by now, but the proven resources of oil have grown, not shrunk. There is enough oil available within the United States to power the country for a very long time. It is true that some of it is harder to get to than we would like, but it is by no means undoable, or even unaffordable, not in a world where oil prices routinely top eighty dollars a barrel. There is no reason to blame rising food prices on a scarcity of oil per se, but plenty of reason to blame a scarcity of available oil--and hence, rising food prices--on unreasonable energy and environmental policies. It may seem a subtle distinction, but it is important.
I probably sound like I'm rambling, and if so, I apologize. I don't offer up this example to kvetch, but to illustrate how difficult it is to pigeonhole people's thinking. Yes, it is true that it is possible to paint in broad strokes, to talk about liberals and conservatives in general, but when it comes to individuals, you have to be more careful. Most people simply aren't that easy to categorize.