Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Contrasting Views on the Coast

A couple of interesting editorials in the local e-rag today, both from enviro types, but with substantially different perspectives.  The first, from Sara Kaplanik from somewhere in Pennsylvania urges us to give up on the coastline, since the ocean is just too powerful for us mortals to deal with:

Our Damaged Coasts: Rebuild or Retreat, That is the Question
...Nature has sent a clear message to New Jersey boardwalks, New York neighborhoods, Maryland and Delaware beaches, and Chesapeake Bay shorelines that it wishes to reclaim some real estate. That is because coastal ecosystems – with dune systems, salt marshes, upland forests, tidal mudflats, shallow bays, expansive beaches and reefs – don’t function within defined boundaries but instead ebb and flow with tides and storms as we saw last fall.

Working against these natural processes inevitably results in lost lives and property. Following nature’s lead results in a thriving, functional shoreline that provides a buffer from the powerful ocean and offers recreational opportunities and abundant natural resources for everyone to enjoy...
And the next, from Sierra Gladfelter, from somewhere near the Appalachian trail in Pennsylvania urges us to save the world by filling the coastal ocean with giant, bird devouring wind generators:

A Wind-Win for Md., and a Beacon for the Bay
...Winds off the coast have not gone ignored in Virginia, either. Quoting more than 54 gigawatts of power potential — equivalent to taking 52 coal-fired power plants off the grid — the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition is lobbying for offshore farms. For the time being, though, investors remain unconvinced. It may take states setting their own standard, like Maryland, for the wheels to finally get spinning.

Meanwhile, momentum for wind has been blowing inland. The same day the Wind Energy Act passed in Maryland, Robinson was the host at a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the Renewable Energy Center at Crain Memorial Welcome Center, a tourist rest stop on U.S. 301 near the Potomac River. A 12-kilowatt turbine there will fuel an electric car charging station and assist in keeping the center off the grid. A destination in itself, the project is the first of its kind in Maryland and one of a handful globally...
And while these two non-coastal state people are more than happy to give us coastal denizens conflicting advice, I'm sure that if they got together, they'd agree, us coastal types just have to be more moral, and abandon the water front and simulataneously build the coastal wind power system, despite it obvious technical, and economic flaws to save the world from warming which hasn't occurred over the last 16 years.

And while I'm not going to specifically go into any arguments rebutting these idealists, I will just excerpt from this fine rant by the late, great Michael Crichton, which I ran into (again) today at Ace's.
...Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday---these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain*, for all I know. I certainly don't want to talk anybody out of them, as I don't want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ
is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don't want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can't talk anybody out of them.

These are not facts that can be argued.

These are issues of faith.

And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism. Increasingly it seems facts aren't necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It's about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.

Am I exaggerating to make a point? I am afraid not.
I can't say it better than that. 

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