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  1. #1

    Default A Different Perspective

    A different perspective on environmentalism. It will be interesting to see if intellectual tolerance is as valued as much as the other variety.

    http://www.townhall.com/columnists/t...20041216.shtml

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  2. #2

    Default balance

    I don't have a problem with development, if it is done in a balanced way. Too long, in industrialized countries, we have destroyed the environment without any thought to what we are doing. We are (mostly) better educated now to how we destroy the earth around us. That makes it harder on countries who are just starting to industrialize. They don't have the money to build in a non threatening way to the environment. America has the money, but all too often we don't. Yes, when you build, you do destroy. However, you can also preserve and have a balance between nature, and development. Those poor people in Africa need hydroelectric power....just do it right and at a minimum of destruction of the natural order. Caring about the environment doesn't make you a "zealot". Yes, there are those people out there too, on both sides of the issue. The simple fact is ....if we don't try to find balance now, what is going to be left of our planet to pass on to our descendents?

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    Quote Originally Posted by shadesofblue68
    The simple fact is ....if we don't try to find balance now, what is going to be left of our planet to pass on to our descendents?
    Maybe nothing. Eventually, there probably won't be any descendents. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just we've gotten so self-important we often think we are the pinnacle of evolution when in fact we're just a minor step in the process. As George Carlin would say, "the Earth will shake us off like a bad case of fleas." We won't be missed and will be easily replaced.

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Saluki Dave
    A different perspective on environmentalism. It will be interesting to see if intellectual tolerance is as valued as much as the other variety.

    http://www.townhall.com/columnists/t...20041216.shtml

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all
    Well, the largest problem the Earth faces right now is overpopulation, which all environmental concerns can be traced to, and which his editorial never even attempts to address. Industrialized and wealthy countries want the Earth to be more environmentally minded while uderdeveloped contries want their people to be fed. If we want the world to be more environmentally minded, we must first make sure that all have access to clean water, and wholesome food, and we must do this in such a way as to cause as little environmental damages as possible. While we do this (because the Earth cannot support the number of people on it right now...we'd actually need as many as six different earth's dedicated to agriculture according to some studies), we need to educate about population control to slow population growth. Typically, the longer a country has been industrialized, the lower the rate of population growth is.

    I won't even really give myself the pleasure of picking apart his editorial piece by piece (it's really a very poorly written editorial, my first editorial writing professor would have ripped this one to shreds) as it is surely no more than personal vent on his behalf. Any experienced editorial writer knows that you must always present the competing view, and refute it using valid evidence (which he offers none of).

    Preserves and "no hunting" areas in Africa? They protect certain localized areas that have been devastated from overhunting. Not local tribal hunting, export hunting (furs, meats, live animals, etc).

    Busses in Yosemite? Have you seen air quality reports? GSMNP is the most visited NP in the country with nearly 9 million visitors each year. Most of them drive through the park, which had worse air quality than metropolitan LA in a recent EPA report. Put those people on a buses running on natural gas and the nitrates, sulfur dioxides, and other pollutants responsible for acid rain fall almost disappear. Acid precipitation has devastating effects on an ecosystem. Not only does it kill trees and greenery, it stays locked up as ice and snow throughout the winter and thaws in the spring as all the new life begins to hatch. When it becomes liquid again, it floods into the creeks and rivers, changing the pH level so quickly that it can wipe out entire spring hatchings of fish.

    Anyway, I won't go on. It's useless to try to induce attitudinal change against someone who's so green biggoted.

    -newsushi

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    When you kill a chlorophyll A containing plant, you're killing the only thing that keeps us alive on this planet. It's not free-oxygen I'm concerned with foremost...it's food. Without plants, we would starve to death before we suffocated.

  5. #5
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    Default A wide brushstroke

    I read the initial article cited in this thread. Do you think the author is insinuating that trying to control crowds in our National Parks is analogous to telling third world countries how to develop thier resources and land? I got the impression that he was complaining about being inconvenienced by the parks use of mass transit to alleviate the problems caused by personal vehicles. I live very close to Jones Gap State Park in Greenville County, South Carolina. The Park had a big problem with overuse during a large portion of the year. Since the park is at the end of a road, the parking area would completely fill up and the traffic would start to park on both sides of the road leading up to the park gate. The popularity of the park's picnic areas coupled with the park's popular trail system resulted in more traffic than the resources could stand. The solution? The Park Service now lets the parking lots fill up; then as a vehicle leaves, the next in line at the gate is allowed in. Inconvenient? If you were not aware of the popularity of the park, yes. If you had to witness the overuse of the park, then I would hope that most would agree with the measures taken. I have seen some of my favorite parking areas on the Blue Ridge Parkway become so overloaded that I have given up on them as starting points for my backpacking trips. Too many people. I believe that this is an issue that will need some progressive thought to rectify within our public land holdings.
    Mr. Sowell seems to think that environmental bigots have the pull to stop hydroelectric progects in Uganda, and are responsible for keeping Africans from hunting food to live on. The last time I checked, our executive branch of government is responsible for our direction and implementation of foreign policy. I think that our administration is weakening environmental controls and considerations, so I don't think these complaints are a result of U.S. policy. Does Mr. Sowell believe that certain outspoken groups and their agendas speak for our nation? The policy of cautioning other developing nations against poor environmental conservation is a wise stance, but it's not coming from our government. Who are these environmental bigots? I think Mr. Sowell is trying to implicate the rational environmentalists with the radicals.

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    Default I agree Howie

    I thought it was not a well written editorial. I have not taken a class on it, but I can see the lack of quality when I read it. What a stretch.

  7. #7

    Default poor writing backed up with a lack of understanding...

    I agree with Hungry Howie. What is needed here is not intellectual tolerance but intellectual balance (actually, I would go even farther and say that what is needed here is intellect, period). As Howie says, the quickest way to undercut the effectiveness of an editorial piece is to present it in a slanted, and ranting, style. The editorial is an example of bad writing.

    I visited Yosemite Valley with my family this summer. It was choked with traffic. Cars were being directed to satellite parking areas, where buses would pick up tourists and promptly get stuck behind lines of cars. It took us a half an hour to walk to the visitor center because traffic cops were stopping pedestrians to let long lines of cars pass. We would have welcomed the option of biking into the valley. Or better yet, I would have preferred that they turn us away at the park entrance. There were already too many cars in the park. It was an altogether unpleasant experience (the next time I visit, it will hopefully be on the PCT).

    As for hydroelectric dams, there are so many long term problems caused by dams that there isn't room here to refute the unsubstantiated statements made in the editorial. Since dams in Africa were brought up, let me just say that no mention was made of the snail-borne parasite schistosomiasis, which has caused enormous problems at places like the Aswan Dam in Egypt. Are there benefits from building a dam? Sure, but don't delude yourself that the electricity will come without a heavy price.

  8. #8

    Default

    Well, the first step is for all of us to give up our automobiles and either walk or bike to work. Let me ask a question here, how far is it to where you work? Close enough to walk or bike? Do you contribute to the pollution and acid rain that's coming from your car while you commute to a job many miles away from your home? What kind of car do you drive? Do you recycle your trash, try to reuse items, shut off unused lights and appliances while you’re at home? Do you have solar converters on your roof to ease the electrical load on your local utilities? Do you always leave the water running while your brushing your teeth? Take long hot showers? Have a low flush toilet? Have you thought about shutting off your power for a couple hours a day so that the electric company won’t have to run their generators so much and thus require them to use up our limited natural gas and oil supplies? Do you walk or thumb to the trailhead to start your trail journey? Do you run your air conditioner all day to feel cool in the house before you get off work or while you’re watching the tube or playing on your computer? Do you run your heater all day & night instead of wearing more clothes to stay warm? Do you waste food, which means more will have to be grown, thereby increasing the pollution from fertilizers that’ll flow into the creeks, rivers and streams? How many toys do you buy for your children, thereby increasing the pollution from trashed plastic toys and batteries?
    As for The Hog, why didn’t you & your family either walk, ride bicycles or horses from Vermont for your visit to Yosemite Valley. Instead of driving your polluting auto? Was it too inconvenient? At the entrance to the park you should have parked your car and walked into the park. But no, you said that there were too many people trying to get in and that "you preferred that you would be turned away at the park entrance". But oh my! You still did go into the park and add to the pollution and crowd problem! Also, have you tried to inform the Egyptian authorities on the proper procedures to eliminate the worm problem? And have you researched the long-term problems caused by the dam and forwarded them to the Egyptians, so that they could correct their mistake in building the dam and also now, with your knowledge and diligence to protect the ecology, they’ll able to fix those problems. As for the pollution in the GSMNP, I think most of it is generated mostly from the power plants in the Ohio Valley.
    Yes, you and I could go on and on. Just like the "Green House Effect" cried about in the 1960’s when I went to college. "New York City under 20 feet of water", "Florida sinks under the Atlantic Ocean due to the polar caps melting". This was all supposed to have happened by 2002. Well, it hasn’t happened yet. All of you enviornmentists just think, if you followed some of the suggestions above or many others, you could save mother earth from the folly of man. Or better yet, As Kennedy said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you: Ask what you can do for your country.” Just substitute world for country.

  9. #9

    Default failed logic and lack of general facts

    Sowell's piece is knee jerk and lacking in basic facts. Most Africans are opposed to damming up their rivers as historically Western initiated "development" projects that target hydroelectricity have led to disaster, economic and environmental. He doesn't even tell us what dam, where in Uganda, who is building it. In Africa, the electricity generated from these dams is rarely delivered and many of the dams sit un and underused. With re:the Uganda, Uganda's largest income earner is tourism and a large number of those are "eco" tourists who go there for the parks, scenery, animals, etc. Destroying the natural environment to build a dam that may or may not be "necessary" or even used is just plain stupid. The matter is one of more than just building a dam, there is the massive destruction that takes place as the dam is built. Roads must be built for equipment to reach the construction site, land will be lost to flooding, often productive land. All of this comes at a great cost and historically this cost has not been recovered. Though I am not sure about this particular case, since no info. was provided in the piece, it is hard to even ascertain whether this dam is needed. Uganda's ongoing battle w/the Lord's Resistance Army, LRA, a radical militant group that continues to threaten the country's stability, particularly in the North of the country raisess other questions. For example, dams can be easy targets for militants. Lastly, while a balanced approach to development makes sense, one problem is Uganda is that it is not democractic and as a result, citizens have very little impact on these type of decisions, decisions which leave them in debt, their land destroyed and their leaders pocketing lots of developmental aid. Of course all these issues should have been discussed in a "real" editorial, but then that is not Sowells' MO.

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    Registered User Tim Rich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boulder
    Sowell's piece is knee jerk and lacking in basic facts. Most Africans are opposed to damming up their rivers as historically Western initiated "development" projects that target hydroelectricity have led to disaster, economic and environmental. He doesn't even tell us what dam, where in Uganda, who is building it. In Africa, the electricity generated from these dams is rarely delivered and many of the dams sit un and underused. With re:the Uganda, Uganda's largest income earner is tourism and a large number of those are "eco" tourists who go there for the parks, scenery, animals, etc. Destroying the natural environment to build a dam that may or may not be "necessary" or even used is just plain stupid. The matter is one of more than just building a dam, there is the massive destruction that takes place as the dam is built. Roads must be built for equipment to reach the construction site, land will be lost to flooding, often productive land. All of this comes at a great cost and historically this cost has not been recovered. Though I am not sure about this particular case, since no info. was provided in the piece, it is hard to even ascertain whether this dam is needed. Uganda's ongoing battle w/the Lord's Resistance Army, LRA, a radical militant group that continues to threaten the country's stability, particularly in the North of the country raisess other questions. For example, dams can be easy targets for militants. Lastly, while a balanced approach to development makes sense, one problem is Uganda is that it is not democractic and as a result, citizens have very little impact on these type of decisions, decisions which leave them in debt, their land destroyed and their leaders pocketing lots of developmental aid. Of course all these issues should have been discussed in a "real" editorial, but then that is not Sowells' MO.
    Sowell writes short columns, and can't go into the detail you require. I generally agree with much of what he writes. Your criticism of his article appears to contain the same flaws you accuse him of making. For example, you state that most Africans oppose dams, and the dam shouldn't be built because Africans don't really use the ones they have. Hydro is Uganda's only significant energy source. They currently deliver what they make, and are actually a net exporter of electricity - it's their most plentiful energy source. Since they lack any oil production, hydroelectric power is their energy currency. I would submit that hydro, with all of its shortcomings, is preferable to coal and oil fired plants. Because of economic growth, they are on pace to eclipse their current electric production.

    You say that since Uganda has no true representative government, its people haven't given permission for the dam. The government, despite its corruption, is far better than the Amin regime, and has actually made strides in improving infrastructure, resulting in sustained economic growth. People in areas not reached by electricity and paved roads appear to want it. Museveni is using electrification and paved roads as a carrot to reduce dissension, mildly akin to the pork barrel activities of our politicians (George Wallace didn't carry Jefferson County, AL until his last gubernatorial election - because of that, the most populated county in Alabama was the last to have completed interstates).

    I believe you are wrong in stating tourism is Uganda's "largest income earner". It's far less than in Kenya (estimated at $192 million) and estimates show Uganda's ecotourism "potential" to be less than $50 million. It's not worth quibbling about any of these estimates because they are insignificant in relation to Uganda's $36 billion GDP. In any comparison, by any common sense measure, it's insignificant.

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    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saluki Dave
    A different perspective on environmentalism.
    Sorry. That's not a different perspective. Just the same old cliches, the same lies, the same distortions, the same ignorance that has been around since a few pioneers first recognized that the earth is a finite resource and the only earth the world's creatures have, and thus it should not be wasted.

    Weary

  12. #12

    Default

    The so-called "green bigots" are a natural reaction to the fat, lazy, hummer-driving, trophy-home-building, arrogant American who thinks it our god-given right to burn up every last drop of the world's energy, with no thought given to the consequences.

  13. #13

    Default screwysquirrel

    I liked your piece.

  14. #14

    Default Uganda

    A few follow up pts.
    Tim, you write

    "Sowell writes short columns, and can't go into the detail you require . . . Your criticism of his article appears to contain the same flaws you accuse him of making."

    Since I am not pretending to be a columnist writing editorials you are comparing apples and oranges. Should a forum response really be more detailed and thorough then an editorial? I guess maybe what passes for journalism today would suggest the affirmative. Though I still hold out hope that well paid opinion writers outta do some work.

    Uganda's President recently said he wasn't sure Uganda could export more electricity, b/c apparently there are no buyers. A cursorly look at the history of hydroelectricity projects across the continent evidences what I said, that while it has potential, the efficacy of building more is questionable at best, especially given some of the other pressing needs, even in Uganda.

    To compare Museveni to Amin is just odd. B/c Museveni isn't as bad as Amin, does not negate the formers autocratic, undemocratic rule. Building infrastructure while important also means shifting of economic resources away from other areas such as health care and w/a 30% AIDS rate, this is critical. Additionally, a quick look at a CIA factbook for infor. re:the Uganda economy does not tell the whole story. The service sector, of which tourism is central, has been growing at an incredible pace, while agriculture has been declining. One driving force behind the focus on infrastructure has been the increase in tourism and the need to make Uganda tourist friendly. Again to compare Kenya w/Uganda is the apples/oranges game. Kenya is so much larger and already has a better developed infrastructure.

    The point, of course, is that for Sowell to just toss out charges, w/o facts, should strike anyone w/an interest in knowledge as problematic. But then, he really is just an example of how low journalism has sunk in this country, or rather what passes for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by boulder
    But then, he really is just an example of how low journalism has sunk in this country, or rather what passes for it.
    Well I suppose anyone who writes regularly can be called a "journalist," but I don't know of any other evidence of journalistic credibility for the guy in question. So he writes for a somewhat nutty, right wing web site that rarely has a fresh idea. Despite the comments of one WhiteBlaze "journalist" I can think of no reason why a web commentator should have to curtail the facts behind his comments -- aside, perhaps, from the attention spans of the site's visitors. Well, there is an aversion to facts, generally, on such sites, so maybe that could be a reason.

    Weary

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    Quote Originally Posted by weary
    Well I suppose anyone who writes regularly can be called a "journalist," but I don't know of any other evidence of journalistic credibility for the guy in question.
    Actually, Sowell has been a widely syndicated columnist for about 20 years. His views are pretty much "let market forces take care of everything". His background is economics, and he's currently a fellow at the Hoover Institute, which is affiliated with Stanford University.

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    Quote Originally Posted by weary
    Well I suppose anyone who writes regularly can be called a "journalist," but I don't know of any other evidence of journalistic credibility for the guy in question. So he writes for a somewhat nutty, right wing web site that rarely has a fresh idea. Despite the comments of one WhiteBlaze "journalist" I can think of no reason why a web commentator should have to curtail the facts behind his comments -- aside, perhaps, from the attention spans of the site's visitors. Well, there is an aversion to facts, generally, on such sites, so maybe that could be a reason.

    Weary
    He's a bit more than a web author. You say you don't know of any evidence of journalistic integrity for the guy in question. In that case, you speak from a well of ignorance. I've been reading him, and you, for years. I believe him to be trustworthy, and he doesn't ask for donations every nth post.

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    Registered User Tim Rich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by boulder
    A few follow up pts.
    Tim, you write

    "Sowell writes short columns, and can't go into the detail you require . . . Your criticism of his article appears to contain the same flaws you accuse him of making."

    Since I am not pretending to be a columnist writing editorials you are comparing apples and oranges. Should a forum response really be more detailed and thorough then an editorial? I guess maybe what passes for journalism today would suggest the affirmative. Though I still hold out hope that well paid opinion writers outta do some work.

    Uganda's President recently said he wasn't sure Uganda could export more electricity, b/c apparently there are no buyers. A cursorly look at the history of hydroelectricity projects across the continent evidences what I said, that while it has potential, the efficacy of building more is questionable at best, especially given some of the other pressing needs, even in Uganda.

    To compare Museveni to Amin is just odd. B/c Museveni isn't as bad as Amin, does not negate the formers autocratic, undemocratic rule. Building infrastructure while important also means shifting of economic resources away from other areas such as health care and w/a 30% AIDS rate, this is critical. Additionally, a quick look at a CIA factbook for infor. re:the Uganda economy does not tell the whole story. The service sector, of which tourism is central, has been growing at an incredible pace, while agriculture has been declining. One driving force behind the focus on infrastructure has been the increase in tourism and the need to make Uganda tourist friendly. Again to compare Kenya w/Uganda is the apples/oranges game. Kenya is so much larger and already has a better developed infrastructure.

    The point, of course, is that for Sowell to just toss out charges, w/o facts, should strike anyone w/an interest in knowledge as problematic. But then, he really is just an example of how low journalism has sunk in this country, or rather what passes for it.
    You seek to hold this one op-ed to a standard few others, if any, follow. Just because he doesn't paper his column with statistics and background doesn't mean he's done no work.

    Regarding tourism being a signicant part of a nation's GDP, you're kidding yourself if it ever grows to represent a significant part of the nation's economy. It would have to grow to be double Kenya's (which you've said is much larger and an unfair comparison) to approach 3% of GDP, assuming GDP remains static. For tourism to be a significant component of GDP, development has to be so concentrated so to have long raised the ire of environmentalists (Jamaica and Aruba come to mind).

    Your AIDS reference is interesting, but dated, and actually highlights a success of the current government. Uganda has been at the forefront in fighting AIDS in Africa, including education and prevention. AIDS infection was approaching 30% in the early 90s, was down to around 6% last year, with about 4.1% adult infection. See http://www.avert.org/aidsuganda.htm

    Take Care,

    Tim

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    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Rich
    He's a bit more than a web author. You say you don't know of any evidence of journalistic integrity for the guy in question. In that case, you speak from a well of ignorance. I've been reading him, and you, for years. I believe him to be trustworthy, and he doesn't ask for donations every nth post.
    Well, I didn't say anything about his integrity. I did mention his credibility. When I think of jorunalists I think of working reporters, editors and columnists. The column in question was written by a guy who works for the Hoover Institute(?) at Stanford, which is financed by a lot of wealthy people and companies that seem to think for some reason that it is in their interest to promote right wing ideology.

    Though the web author and I are about the same age, I don't work for pay. I basically live on social security plus maybe about 50 percent. I do spend a lot of time trying to provide buffers for the Appalachian Trail in Maine, the most beautiful, challenging -- and threatened -- part of the entire trail.

    As a result of this desire to protect something I think of as valuable, from time to time I promote the need on sites like this that specialize in Appalachian Trail matters. Is it really only one post in nine? I must try to do better.

    The need is enormous. Land speculators are buying Maine land adjacent to the trail at a record pace. Thirty percent of all the land in Maine has changed hands since 1998, mostly in blocks ranging from 100,000 to more than a million acres. A group of us volunteers have formed the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust in hopes of protecting at least some critical areas of this for sale land located adjacent to the trail. We've even been successful in bidding for the slopes of Saddleback and the spectacular summit of Abraham. We are eyeing adjacent purchases from the Mahoosucs, north through the 100-mile-wilderness to Abol Bridge, south of Baxter State Park.

    Anyone who wishes to help -- or perhaps just learn more -- should open:

    www.matlt.org

    Weary

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    Sorry for the disjointed response, wish there was an edit button. Regarding electricity export, I don't know if they will be able to increase their energy contracts with neighboring nations or not, but with only 1% of Uganda's energy consumption coming from electricity and per capita energy consumption extremely low, I would expect internal electricity needs would be increasing. Current electrification is around 5%, although another one percent uses fossil fuel generators. Whether they ever increase their exports, electrical consumption will increase and use all that the dam can produce.

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