Stuck in the Middle with You

This one’s been a long time coming.  It’s more than opinion and observation by little Miss Bodie, it’s a bit personal on several counts.  As I’ve said a million times, I didn’t leave the environmental movement, the environmental movement left me.

So, “the White House”, i.e., President Obama, told EPA last month to halt implementation of new Air Quality regulations.  The environmental community and the people in New York are up in arms and are taking a political shotgun to anyone and everyone they can find.  All the old rhetoric is coming out of the bag—the crisis is real, caving to industry, etc.

I’m going straight for the jugular on this one.  I want to know how many of these “environmentalists” and “activists” drove alone to work on the freeway this morning.  Like, virtually all of them?  But it’s OK, because the keys to their SUV are hanging off a carabiner.  Of course, they have to have the SUV to get up their driveway in winter or during the rainy season because they live in East Buttscratch even though they work in the middle of a city.  Because they are environmentalists.  And they love the outdoors so much they have to wreck it with a big house.  Or maybe it is the weekend place, ‘cause Lord knows, owning a bunch of houses is the burning hot center of sparing the Earth.

I’m not talking about people who live in remote areas because that is where their job is.  People who live and work at resorts, parks, farms, etc, are the *most likely* to walk to work.  If they want to go elsewhere?  If it is 15 miles to Smallville, USA, for the doctor or basic services, you probably have to drive that.  I wonder . . . .  ?  And the residents of Smalliville?  Again, *most likely* to walk the town.  If they want to get to Big City?  Their stuck driving.  Why’s that?

It is certainly true that (emissions without scrubbing) = pollution è environmental impairment and public health impacts.  What is not necessarily true is that regulation reduces (emissions without scrubbing) in a meaningful way or at all.  Which is the history of the Clean Air Act.

The thing about waste is it is waste.  It was something that was paid for at one time and not used.  It is leftover, surplusage, excess.  A well run company has a huge motive to reduce waste by purchasing higher quality starting materials, running more efficiently, or recovering excess and reusing it.  OK so maybe that is idealistic and not every company is well run or even mediocre run.

That doesn’t mean a regulation necessarily works.  If it requires ineffective technologies, targets a symptom rather than a disease, singles out certain industries, certain activities, certain classes of emissions over others, (see reference to history of the Clean Air Act) it is picking and choosing in ways that are

1.  By the test of history virtually always politically-driven serving certain regional or sectoral interests (Not Me!);

2.  Likely to have uneven socio-economic distributional effects (Not Me, Again!);

3.  Probably not accomplish air quality improvement it is touted to (But we had a bunch of photo ops and there were positive opinions in the New York Times. . . .).


So what effect to the freshly scrubbed urban crowd?  You work at a desk and move paper from one side to the other.  You don’t think too much about where the desk came from, or the paper, or the computer, or the desk toys.  Probably China and that’s OK because you’ll still have a job.  None of it matters because all of that pollution that comes from “industry” is easier to control.  Depends on what you mean by easy.  Like many other things in this life, it is really a matter of your point of view.  If you’ve driven I-80 recently, you’ll see what I mean.

So, you want to see air quality improvement in this country?  If you live in a city or town of any size, then walk, bike or use transit to run errands of less than five miles.  (Start out with two and work your way up to five.)  Figure out a way to get to work other than driving alone.  One option is to live near where you work.  Quit waiting for the government to make your life better for you and take steps yourself.  Make a choice.  You talked loudly all through school about your dedication to our Mother Earth, Gaia.  And then took a stock broker job after graduation and donate money to some issue organization, buy organic tomatoes from Indonesia, and carry them home in an SUV with the keys hanging off a carabiner.  And you wait around for the government to “fix” the environment.  I call this Environmentalist Until Graduation and you know who you are.

Mr. President used the Change concept, but he didn’t invent it.  Remember “Be the Change you want in the World?”  Mr. President, Mr. Daley and myself may not see eye to eye on football, but I there some things we’re looking at the same way.

About missbodie

The Dragon Lady is a life long tea drinker. Her first coffee shops were Big Boy and the Oriental Diner in downtown Milwaukee. She lives in our Nation's Capital with three bicycles and an energetic tabby cat.
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