I Call That a Crisis | Letters | Chicago Reader

I Call That a Crisis 

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To the Editor:

Harold Henderson's article about environmentalism, "The Manufactured Crisis" [September 16], and your description of it on the top of the first page, "Environmentalism's Big Lie," were apparently written by Rush Limbaugh and James Watt. Henderson writes there are "problems, not an all-pervasive crisis." Unresolved problems tend to create crises, and right now the mantra of those who oppose doing anything about the environment, the so-called "conservatives," is "why bother?"

Clean air, clean water, toxics, energy use, and land use are problems. The question is what do we do about them before they become crises, and Henderson's article does not provide an answer. Oil prices? The oil companies themselves admit there is only a 30 to 40 year supply left on the whole planet. Much oil is believed to be under the Rocky Mountains (the overthrust belt). Does this country want to put oil wells--and spills and pipelines--in Yellowstone and Glacier national parks and wilderness areas so everyone can drive to work instead of taking public transportation? Air quality? Why is there a perpetual haze in Shenandoah and Great Smoky national parks? Why are trees on the Appalachian spine dying in great numbers? Is it because the air is so clean? Toxics? Has Henderson's pregnant wife eaten any Great Lakes salmon? Land use? The same people in Congress who harp about "welfare" and "subsidies" for the unemployed and poor blacks have no problems with subsidies--to the tune of several billion a year--for those who seriously damage federal lands in the west (my lands as I am a taxpayer) with mining, grazing, and logging. Water quality? If the water is so clean, why did all those people in Milwaukee get sick last year?

Henderson says recycling can be encouraged by raising garbage fees. This is a pipe dream: fees can't be raised to encourage productive behavior as we saw last year when the so-called conservatives defeated a proposed increase in the gasoline tax last year.

There is a crisis today, if you are personally and immediately affected, as many people are. There will be crises for our grandchildren if we sweep these problems under the rug.

Robert Handelsman


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