Framing the Dialogue


Most of you have heard of NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard).  Having worked in the environmental field for over 25 years, I have run into a few.  It is not unusual for a NIMBY to gleefully point to another community to put their; incinerator, recycling station, halfway house, bank, nucular (I know) power station, etc.

A number of years ago, I heard a new one that fits many folks who call themselves environmentalists.  It’s CAVE people or Citizens Against Virtually Everything.  It seems that if you are planning something a group will appear with a catchy name and oppose it.  I was recently listening to the radio and the host read an excerpt from a news story.  It was about how environmentalists were opposed to allowing forest fires to burn out on their own in remote areas.  It seems to some environmentalists that the risk to firefighters is worth the pollution reduction.  The folks who actually have to put their lives on the line aren’t as sure.

I also heard a news story this past fall where environmentalists were protesting the construction of a power transmission line.  The irony was that the power was to come from “green” windmills.  It seems that windmills are only popular when they are in someone else’s backyard.  Isn’t that right Senator Ted Kennedy (Washington Post)?

For a number of years I worked for a large disposal firm that owned many landfills.  At a hearing about expanding a facility, the opposition flew in a representative from a national environmental organization to testify.  His “expert” testimony was that we can recycle over 90% of our waste and didn’t need landfills.  This guy flew across the country and that is all that he had!  That is CAVE at its best.

I always told people who questioned the need for landfills that the solution was easy; “If you stop throwing things away, we’ll be out of business in six months.”  I haven’t worked there for over 10 years, but they are still running strong.

Another component of the environmental movement is that we can change the earth and nature in particular.  This all strikes me as folly and/or arrogance.  I really believe that we can improve things and should do as much as practicable (not possible…practicable) to conserve and reduce pollution.  There often comes a point where returns are diminished as costs skyrocket.  In life there is risk.

Remember, Nature is a Mother!

George Carlin has a famous bit on environmentalists (Saving the Planet) that can be viewed on YouTube.  This is NOT for kids due to language.  It’s funny, just not for kids.

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