Year 2, Month 11, Day 16: Who Put The NOMP In The Bomp Bomp Bomp?

The Nebraska Journal-Star talks about the pipeline postponement:

Break out the champagne! The State Department decision to study routes to avoid Nebraska’s beautiful and ecologically sensitive Sandhills is a victory against long odds.

It’s hard to imagine a decision that could and would be hailed by everyone from conservative Gov. Dave Heineman to liberal Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska to environmentalist Ken Winston of the Sierra Club, but that’s the case in this rare confluence of concerns and priorities.

Now there’s a reasonable chance that the Keystone XL pipeline project will never rip a slow-to-heal gash across the Sandhills.

The statement from the State Department emphasized that the concern expressed by Nebraskans had been a key factor in the decision to delay the project.

{snip}

This is a one-time opportunity. Cynics wonder whether it would have been granted at all if it had not provided a convenient excuse for the Obama administration to delay a final decision until after the elections next year.

As readers of this page know, the Journal Star editorial board called more than a year ago for the pipeline route to be moved to avoid the Sandhills. We think the pipeline needs to be built, just not through the Sandhills.

I wanted to expand on the “Not On My Planet” theme, and this editorial was a perfect hook. Sent November 12:

NIMBY — “Not In My Backyard.” When your editorial writers say, “We think the pipeline needs to be built, just not through the Sandhills,” it’s a classic example of this way of thinking.

It’s often reasonable to relocate obvious hazards and inconveniences so they don’t endanger lives or disrupt communities, but the Keystone XL pipeline is not such a case. The likely impact of leaks and spillage on sensitive aquifers is only one of many reasons to block the project; while relocation may reduce the chance of water contamination, this doesn’t do a thing about the destruction of huge amounts of Canadian boreal forest, or the devastating CO2 emissions that are an inevitable consequence of burning the dirty crude of the tar sands. And it won’t do a thing about weaning our nation from its addiction to oil.

NIMBY is an inadequate response to the Keystone XL. We need to say NOMP — “Not On My Planet!”

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 1, Day 23: The P.O.E. Principle

Based on his other writing, I’m going to assume that William Collins’ piece on climate change (which I found in the Youngstown News (OH), but which was originally published at OtherWords) is in fact written from a scientifically informed position. But the second half reads like…well, go check it out yourself.

Anyway, my letter:

William Collins’ analysis of the climate change issue is a remarkable feat. In the first half of his piece, he explicitly states that the warming atmosphere is a “truly alarming” problem, but his conclusion reads like a skillful parody of conservative thinking. Even assuming that Collins’ final paragraphs don’t represent his core beliefs, they deserve a careful response — because a statement like “we’re not about to inconvenience ourselves over some half-baked fad that says we’re damaging the world’s atmosphere” is representative of much current conventional opinion on the subject. The failure of our media to convey the magnitude of the climate crisis is perhaps the single most damaging consequence of the false-equivalence stenography that we’ve come to call “journalism,” just as the inability of our political system to address the very real possibility of a climate-triggered civilizational collapse is arguably the nadir of the American democratic experiment. Mr. Collins says, snarkily, “In 50 years, we’ll know what we should have done today.” Given that scientists (and politicians) have known about the greenhouse effect and its consequences for Arctic ice (to name just one affected area) since the early 1950s, that statement is a superb summary of a thoughtful position on climate change — from 1960. Our fifty years are already up. Over the next fifty, we’re going to discover that a world racked by water wars, droughts, wildfires and severe political instability (often in nuclear-armed nations) is not something Americans can ignore.

Warren Senders

Month 11, Day 13: The Millers’ Tale

The Times reports on Nathan Miller, a guy in California who wants to set up a windmill in his backyard. Naturally his neighbors object.

If we are to survive the turbulence of the coming centuries with our civilization intact, we must, as Nathan Miller says, “change our idea of what’s aesthetically pleasing.” His neighbors’ objections to his plans for a windmill will seem increasingly petty as climate change’s effects begin to disrupt our cosseted existence. A choking pall of smoke from a burning forest, blotting out the sun for weeks on end; a sudden flash flood that renders several thousand people homeless; a few hundred thousand acres of cropland dessicated by drought; a nation submerged by rising seas and its population dispersed — all these are uglier by far than a thirty-five foot tower. While a single such project cannot solve the problem of climate change, it’ll never happen without thousands upon thousands of idiosyncratic local solutions to local problems. A backyard wind turbine will soon be a thing of beauty.

Warren Senders