When I used to listen to right wing talk radio, before I decided I'd lose my mind if I kept checking such radically different ways of thinking, their mantra tended to be that nobody would deliberately pollute the earth, and there was no need for environmental regulations because who wants to foul their own nest (not those exact words but close enough).
Are those who say such things serious? Do they truly not realize that by necessity, as well as sometimes greed, the dollar rules business? Or do they hope their listeners will not know? Have they never seen the desolate areas around mining towns, never heard how many cases of cancer there are among the children in some of the places where the environment was only seen in terms of dollar signs?
Fear of lawsuits slows some down from deliberately sickening their workers; but if the fines or lawsuit penalties aren't high enough, it won't do the job. Think back to when Chevrolet knew they had a gasoline tank placed where it could burn up the vehicle in an accident. They made the economic decision that a few small lawsuits were better than paying re-engineering costs. That lasted until a family was horribly burned and the lawsuit's verdict high enough to convince them otherwise.
Businesses are not in the business of being benevolent. They are in the business of making money and must compete with other countries around the world who have no environmental regulations. Most will add environmental protections into their costs only if government mandates it. You know which party would mandate that and which will not; so you can decide which you personally want. Remember though, what we mistakenly protect today can be changed tomorrow but not the other way around.
Yes, there are some people who are benevolent by nature and would not deliberately run a mine with faulty safety just to make money, but the reason government began to regulate such is that those kind weren't in the majority. Without an overseer, many companies would pour asbestos into the environment and figure a few sick children was not a big deal.
Since the Republican right came into power... okay there are two Republican rights. One is the financial side and the other the religious. The religious would not work to cut back environmental regulations. They are too busy limiting sex on cable televisions, protesting Janet Jackson's breast, stopping a woman from getting an abortion, blocking stem cell research, and preventing a gay couple, who have lived together 10 years and have kids, from being able to have a legal marriage. They have a lot on their plate and adding to it environment is just one too many issues.
It's up to the economic right wing of the Republican party to fight to remove environmental regulations. Bush ran for office with the determination to do what he has done in terms of cutting regulations and making it easier for business to avoid costly lawsuits even when they did something damaging. The people on the far right see environmentalists as wackos.
Unfortunately they have not been totally wrong. Who can deny some dumb things have been done supposedly to save the environment?
Does it really matter if a three-toed squirrel, with a black spot on his tail, finds his pasture plowed up given there are lots of four-toed squirrels, with white spots, in the next valley? Environmentalists have used the canary in the mine example way too many times and have they forgotten they supposedly believe in evolution? What did they think that meant?
So the Bush administration took a few goofy decisions by environmentalists as an excuse to bash one regulation after another-- whether there is solid science behind them or not. After all science is part of the evil trio anyway (lawyers, scientists and teachers). Science has too many facts involved in it, takes too much time to study to see if it is factual, and gets in the way of effectively using emotion.
So regulations are bad. Clean air now can be reinterpreted to mean dirtier air. Every time the Bushites say something, you have to look to see what was really going on. This year he even had western state governors (some in red states) down on him for wanting to open up logging areas that had been closed due to lack of profitability for the government and because it was no longer legal for raw logs to be exported overseas for processing from forest service lands.
If it costs more to build roads into a logging cut than the logs produce in profit, should the government be doing this? Was selling off the national parks to concessionaires a good plan for long lasting stewardship of those lands? It goes on and on.
There are many links on all of this but they are either from the right spinning how good the Bush administration is as a custodian of nature and how many dumb things the environmenalists have done. Or you find the environmentalist links who list one travesty after another that his administration has done to damage our air, what we eat, and our natural world. So if you are interested in checking for yourself, you will have a lot to dig through and I don't think on this subject anyone is really neutral. We live on this earth and the consequences can be dire for the ones who are wrong on what it takes to keep us living here.
These photos are all of Opal Creek in Oregon which is an environmentalist success story. Today it is a pristine, old growth forest. The stream is clear, cold and emerald green due to the minerals in the area. A trail skirts alongside it enabling the hiker to get down to the water as well as enjoy the views.
Opal Creek was at one time a mining camp. The buildings remain from that as well as much of the equipment with a few people living up there year round. Logging interests wanted to log the whole area. What could that hurt? After all, trees grow back and what real difference does an old one make to the world? The issue to them was dollars, not beauty. They'd most likely have left a few trees along the creek.
Fortunately there were a group of people who valued Opal Creek for its soul restoring properties and its beauty, not just its oxygen generation-- although that's not bad either and fought to preserve it from the logging interests. They raised funds, they brought it to the public's attention, and eventually they got through a bill to protect it.
Now this was before Bush's time, but what we are really talking here is a political movement-- two of them. One is where only money matters. The other is that some things are worth more than money. In this case, the second group won; and Opal Creek will remain what it has always been, a beautiful place to go and recenter your soul.
There was a great statement on the subject of money in the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp. Charlie had won a ticket to meet Willie Wonka but the boy knows his family is poverty stricken. He feels he should sell it. His old grandfather, who has nothing to gain from the boy going on the tour and who would profit from more money in the house, says (paraphrased)-- Charlie, money is always around. You can always get more of it, but a tour through that factory, it's a once in a lifetime experience. That is what is rare.
I wish more people in that economic right part of the Republican party could see places like Opal Creek and realize some things are worth more than money. Dollars come and go, but Opal Creek remains as a soul restoring place. If you get to Oregon, check it out for yourself.
Next blog will be on the subject of global warming.