Posts Tagged ‘economy’

A Spot of Preservation, Please

Devil’s Postpile is a tiny little National Park System spot, especially when compared to nearby juggernauts like Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Death Valley National Parks. It only covers about 800 acres, even Valley Forge NHS is bigger than that. It’s just there to save a singular geologic feature: a volcanic extrusion cooled in hexagonal basalt columns. Yeah, not too exciting, but hey, it’s not something you see every day. It’s just a tiny little spot of interest, preserved.

Postpile © 2009America In Context

Which sort of brings up a point. How big of a deal is it for someone to look at something and say “hey, that’s pretty neat, we should save that.” Well, apparently, it’s a pretty big deal. Postpile took a bit of effort to save. Long hidden in the high-altitude mazework of the eastern Sierra Nevada, people didn’t even know it existed until the late 1800s. Of course, it wasn’t too long until water interests showed up wanting to blow these extruded columns straight to hell to build their dams. As usual, the happy ending here was a group of concerned citizens & environmental groups raising awareness leading to the salvation of this unique pile of rocks.

San Joaquin River © 2009 America In ContextYeah, I know, here we go again. Those naïve environmental whackos, sacrificing the public good and economic growth for worthless blind cave fish or piles of grey rocks. Why should we preserve all these unimportant things when people can’t put food on the table or get a drop to drink? Fair questions, I suppose. Fair questions, that is, until you realize that so many times this destruction is either for naught, or is ill-placed, or the fruits of that destruction is itself wasted, or, even worse, it’s realized after the fact that all this destruction has doomed us all.

Looking specifically at the economic collapse we find ourselves in, which seemingly marks the end of our nation’s economic prosperity, I have to ask myself: was it really worth destroying portions of our nation’s environment for “economic expansion”, when our own greed-driven stupidity has halted that very economic expansion and set us all down the road to ruin? Our wealth has evaporated, our jobs have moved overseas, our education and health care systems have collapsed, and all we have to show for it is a scarred landscape. There are parts of Texas that are forever ruined thanks to sloppy oil drilling. There are parts of West Virginia forever despoiled thanks to mountaintop removal mining. Long Island Sound will likely never recover from the damage caused first by New England mill towns and later from over-fertilized suburban lawns.

Rainbow Falls © 2009 America In ContextI know there’s a delicate balance between environmental preservation and economic expansion. I know NIMBY-ism prevents good projects, like robust electrical grids, light rail, and hydroelectric & geothermal power (two truly renewable energy sources), from getting completed. And there have been some very helpful projects like Hoover Dam and the TVA that have been done and resulted in vast improvements in the quality of life for millions. But what bothers me is the environmental damage we have wrought for absolutely no reason other than building over-large, unsustainable houses no one can afford to live, and mega-mall shopping complexes where no one can afford to shop. We’ve ruined our landscape and have nothing to show for it but a nation in economic collapse.

I’m just suggesting that anytime zoning boards or developers or the Dept. of the Interior or Congress considers destroying a chunk of our natural world for some special project, they need to seriously consider “is it worth it over the long term,” or is it simply some get-rich-quick scheme for some special interest group that won’t provide a lick of true economic growth for the nation. I suspect that as long as these groups can be easily bought off or deluded, we’ll never make those intelligent decisions.

Fallen Columns © 2009 America In Context

At least we have places like Devil’s Postpile and other national, state, and municipal parklands. Well, for now that is, until some shyster convinces us that paving them over will lead to “economic prosperity”.

[Pics on this post are mine and copyrighted thusly. See my other Postpile pics here.]


Eagle © 2009 America In ContextLinks:

Devil’s Postpile National Monument

Environmental Valuation Blog

CIA World Factbook: Environment (yeah, I know it’s not directly related to the content of this blog post, but I stumbled across it and found it neat)

Google map to Devil’s Postpile

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