A green of a different color

Real environmental problems aren't a bunch of hot air

I'm a Pagan, one of those "nature worshipers" you hear about. Among other things, that means I find the sacred in the world around us. I've never made any secret about that, the name of this blog should be a pretty obvious clue.

But I am not part of the "green movement." I don't agree that mankind is "unnatural" and only capable of destroying the planet. I don't believe that humanity should give up our technology and move back to subsistence living. I don't think that industry and capitalism are inherently evil. And I don't buy into the "common good" when it comes to the environment.

So yes, I am an environmentalist. But not the kind who usually hides behind the title.

I am a green of a different color.

I don't think people really appreciate green. I'm a desert guy, born in Chinle, raised mainly in Phoenix, and I have spent most of my adult life working in various spots all over the American southwest. The Arizona deserts get green, but it is not the green that other people really think about. Outside of the cities and what people have transplanted, there are greens, but just a few shades. Most of it disappears after the spring as the water dries up.

Summers and holidays, I would go with my folks and stepsibs to visit my relatives in the South. There were greens there, so many that the green came close to overwhelming me for a day or so every time. A million shades of green crashing down my optic nerves. That is one reason why I like forests. All that life just out in the open under the sun.

And then there is L.A. It's Phoenix writ large and about forty years further down the way. The greens are slathered on to hide the asphalt, but they don't really belong in that time and place. They look good, but they need tending.

Living in the desert, you pay attention to water. If you don't drink enough, the "dry heat" can suck it out of your lungs. Even in the cooler high deserts, it's easy to get dehydrated.

Water is different in the desert. That's why there aren't as many greens.

The big push in today's pop culture environmentalism movement is global warming. It's easy to mouth the correct phrases. Good intentions matter. And you get can get an excuse from your personal commitment to the cause if you can get enough publicity. It doesn't matter what you do if you spout the sounds and look good doing so. Other people's sacrifice is more important than your own.

Then there are people like me who think that global warming is a drop in the bucket. Pun intended.

I've called the water crisis in the Southwest global warming's nastier big brother. Worst of all, it's an actual problem. Something that can be measured.

Water and power in the Southwest are heavily subsidized, especially for water intensive agriculture. There aren't that many places in Arizona that can support cotton and citrus without outside water. California's Imperial Valley is a desert. And Las Vegas only exists because of cheap power.

And that doesn't count for things like outdoor pools, golf courses, or fountains.

One reason why Americans moved from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt is water subsides. Millions of people moved to desert cities and tried to transplant a piece of Northeast or Midwest suburbia to a harsh climate.

It's the cheap water that made it possible. And I do mean cheap. When I was a kid, it wasn't unusual to put your lawn under an inch or so of water every morning before the sun came up. Because the real cost was shifted to the taxpayers, water could be wasted and usually was.

It wasn't just water. Some of the most gods-awful houses and buildings were slammed down here. All because power was cheap. Mostly, this new construction ignored the lay of the land. Southern exposure with massive picture windows SOUNDS good until you have to cool the building down.

I believe that all other things being equal, good ideas tend to become better and more refined over time because of the free market. But if you throw massive government subsidies into the mix, the good ideas can't always compete because the bad ideas waste resources. Why worry about saving water when the price is artificially lowered below what it would cost in Seattle?

And that brings us to the bit that NO ONE wants to discuss.

Government CREATED this problem.

Remember, unlike human caused global warming, this is an actual problem that can be measured. The water table IS dropping in more than twenty states and has been for decades. The Colorado runs dry before reaching Mexico, despite our treaty obligations. Los Angeles does steal the water from the Owens Valley.

So does government stop the subsidies and let the price of water return to what the market demands?

No, the-idiots-in-charge mandate low flow toilets.

When the demand for electrical power exceeds demand, does government let prices rise so people use less?

No, government does forced rationing with rolling brownouts and blackouts.

Do you see the mess here?

Government created the problem. Government "solutions" perpetuate the problem. And people are still convinced that government is acting in their best interests.

I have one answer.


— NeoWayland

Posted: Tue - September 18, 2007 at 02:44 PM  Tag

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