Growing up in the bay area in CA, I've seen my fair share of people who buy into these types of things. I've hung my head many times in shame and disbelief. But at the end of the day, all we need to do is look at the net results of these beliefs to justify how much we should care.
Homeopathy, by definition, cannot hurt you. Due to the serial dilutions used, the chances are that there are 0 molecules of the original thing in any given dose. The worst thing it can do is cost people money for no result. Some people may turn down medicine and take homeopathics instead, but once again, that's only to the end-user's detriment.
Disbelief in, say, climate change is a different story. If you think climate change is all a big lie, you are likely acting to the detriment of everyone else on the planet. If you believe that the world is a self-correcting machines and our actions have no consequences, you are likely acting to the detriment of everyone else on the planet.
So, while new-age hippie BS is annoying, it's generally quite harmless. Not so for the creation museum and its ilk.
Anyone who wants to can label their food "Non-GMO". People can buy what they want.
That's just the problem: Anyone who wants to can label their food "Natural" or "Non-GMO." But it's not really regulated. Naked Juice, which has a label plastered with non-GMO claims finally had it catch up to them with a class action lawsuit about it. But that took people getting together to sue; it's not the government penalizing companies.
The FDA doesn't have a set of rules for the "All Natural" label, so it doesn't mean anything. The "Organic" label, on the other hand, is regulated. Most folks don't seem to recognize the difference.
Connecting carbon sequestration with fire-excluded forest is short sited (well, for most forests in the US, anyway). While I'm sure there are folks all across the spectrum who are short sited, the point is that the liberal institutions that people point to aren't supporters. Equally myopic, however, is your view of forest management, history, and ecology in general.
It's pretty well recognized (including by me above) that a management plan to maximize revenue and productivity is going to include thinning (and fire is the easiest way). Maximizing carbon production or sequestration doesn't mean maximizing vulnerability to fire, though. Not all fuels are created equal.
In terms of history, you're forgetting what was happening in Yosemite (and had been for centuries and centuries): fire-based management. The natives of California (and this is by no means an exception) have a documented history of using fire to maintain a state in ecological succession. For instance, Quercus kelloggii, the California black oak, was valued for its acorns so the forests were managed to maximize their presence and production. So the "natural characteristic" you're referring to isn't really a model for how an unmanaged forest will look. But it's okay, John Muir made the same mistake.
There isn't any permanent "end state" in a forest (okay, who's gonna come in and say "bare ground?"). There are lots of states which are local maxima in terms of stability, but those are all subject to stochastic events. There is no global maximum to which nature inexorably and violently drives. We've put our forests in a less-stable situation which can't be maintained long-term, but fire isn't nature's way of punishing us for putting two different types of trees in the same forest.
I'm glad you agree with me about fire exclusion not working, though.
In this discussion, we can completely ignore global climate change and end up with the same general calculus. If you let fuels accumulate (as they always have and always will) by putting out every fire, you will keep kicking the can down the road until there's a fire so big that you can't put it out. Add in budget problems and the situation is ripe in California.
This isn't a matter of wacky tree-hugging liberals preventing logging from saving our forests either. Use of prescribed burning and selective logging are taught extensively at the UC Berkeley Forestry program. Selective logging is used for various management goals in the Santa Cruz mountains (including revenue maximization). Neither of those places have a history of being particularly conservative.
This isn't a problem that you can micromanage your way out of. You can't take out a few juicy trees and declare your forest safe from fire. Regular, prescribed burns allow for the kind of patchy diversity and general fuels reduction that prevent these big fires from happening.
And you thought Verizon was bad...
Right, the power needs to come from somewhere. But electricity transmission is significantly more efficient than gas transmission, there's the difference. A non-trivial amount of gas is used to drive gas to a station so you can get it. Last time I checked, the EPA estimates that electrical transmission is 10% more efficient than taking gas to a gas station.
Doesn't change the fact that coal is shitty, but you can't really polish a turd.
"Darpa figures that it's illogical to make a soldier hand over her rucksack to a robotic beast of burden if she's then got to be preoccupied with 'joysticks and computer screens' to guide it forward." (Emphasis mine.)
I know that people love sounding politically correct by arbitrarily changing "he" to "she," but in this particular case, it's not only silly but probably wrong. We've been hearing a fair amount lately about how female soldiers aren't allowed in designated combat zones, such as in this piece http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=166303415 In other words, "she" is statistically unlikely compared to "he," here.
It's a funny time when we start to trade in