April 19, 2008

"The Monongahela River, which runs cleaner than when they were young (not a good sign)..."

I didn't expect to encounter such a subtle line in a WaPo article about whether Obama was right about the bitterness of people in small towns in Pennsylvania. The reporter who injected that piquant irony is Alec MacGillis.

It's a bad sign that the river runs cleaner, because it means that the factories upstream are closed.

The relationship between economic vitality and the environment is complex. Factories could be made cleaner, and when manufacturing moves overseas, the factories probably run dirtier. Still, I wonder: Why don't environmentalists celebrate economic recessions? Don't economic setbacks advance their goals? Perhaps they do celebrate quietly, maybe in the private chambers of their own hearts. It's not good PR to exult at misfortune.

46 comments:

Bob said...

And many of the most extreme environmentalists see human beings as the root problem, and secretly wish for a world-wide disease epidemic to wipe out humanity, since their first love is for the planet, not their own species. Sad, but true.

rhhardin said...

It's cleaner also because of the diminished number of bears upstream, an ecological catastrophe.

Meade said...

How many environmentalists does it take to change a lightbulb?

"Ten. One to write the lightbulb a letter requesting that it change. Four to circulate online petitions. One to file a lawsuit demanding it change. One to send the lightbulb lovingkindness (tm), knowing that this is the only way real change occurs. One to accept the lightbulb precisely the way it is, clear in the knowledge that to not accept another is to do great harm to oneself. One to write a book about how and why the lightbulb needs to change. And finally one to smash the f*cking lightbulb, because we all know it's never going to change."
=Derrick Jensen

J said...

You missed "Years of watching the decline of the town they have lived in since their family arrived from France".

As for the environmental angle, I've noticed nobody seems to mention the decline of Pennsylvania's other high wage blue collar industry.

Nichevo said...

What would that be, coal? Don't leave us hanging, J, that is a waste of two posts, yours and mine.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Is it possible that the factories upstream are running cleaner? I remember when Lake Erie was declared 'dead' in my Weekly Reader. It hasn't been set afire in many years.

I blame Nixon.

Zeb Quinn said...

Derailing free market economies is implicitly foundational to environmentalism.

Maguro said...

I don't think environmentalists "celebrate" anything...theirs is a relentlessly pessimistic worldview. There's always something else to worry about, another ecological disaster on the horizon.

ricpic said...

The peasantry isn't embittered, it's confused: the little people know they've been snookered by the Obamanites of America but can't quite figure out how. And yes, environmentalists - a subset of lefty shits - are part of the snookering. Smoke coming out of smokestacks which means jobs and family and hope, remember hope? for the peasantry are nothing but an unaesthetic eyesore to the perfect beautiful people, donchyaknow. Academics, too. They're another glorious faction crapping on the unappealing blue collar scum. Class warfare? It's all about sitting on the lower orders and farting in their faces.

Paddy O. said...

Factories could be made cleaner, and when manufacturing moves overseas, the factories probably run dirtier.

This goes to one of the reasons I'm both an environmentalist and a conservative. Environmentalism isn't necessarily a Luddite philosophy.

Third world countries tend to be very dirty. Lots of pollution. Lots of all kinds of bad stuff. The more advanced countries are cleaner in almost every way.

Science and technology allows us to be both clean and industrial. In fact, I think a healthy environmental policy pushes science and technology even farther. If people were content to have pollution many advances would have never been pursued.

Pushing for independence from oil isn't just about not burning polluting fossil fuels. It means advances in alternative technologies that can have wide ranging benefits. But its so much work and money that unless there was a major drive the work to find these discoveries wouldn't be done.

Richard said...

I live in the Pittsburgh area. It's always struck me as rather pathetic when local politicians brag about how we've "cleaned up our rivers for our children's future." Yes, the Monongahela River hasn't run this clean for a century and a half. Same with the Ohio River and the Allegheny River. And "our children" have moved to southern states where there are still real jobs. Obama's not presidential material, but he was right about the bitterness here. Among blue collar folks it runs as deep as our clean rivers.

Maguro said...

It's always struck me as rather pathetic when local politicians brag about how we've "cleaned up our rivers for our children's future."

That is a good one - which Pittsburgh-area politician said that? I grew up in Pittsburgh and, though I moved away 24 years ago, I can't imagine an office-seeker there saying something that stupid.

Anyway, the mills are gone and not even Obama is promising to bring them back. Probaby the most powerful thing people in PA could do to attract new jobs would be to dump trade-unionism and become a right-to-work state. Never happen, of course, but it's hard to see anything else that would help.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Once the election is over the winner will care less about the rustbelt, as has happened for about the past five elections in a row.

Power and wealth are flowing to the rim states, those states that tough an ocean and/or the southern border. the center of the country is in trouble.

And nobody in Washington really cares.

George said...

Makes me think of the crying Indian commercial from the 1970s....

Some people have a deep, abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this country, and some people don't.

People start pollution. People can stop it.

The Drill SGT said...

Krupp steel is building in Mobile.

total auto production in the US is up, but just not big 3 in Michigan.

so those good jobs do come to the US if the business climate is good.

wonder why?

montana urban legend said...

"Still, I wonder: Why don't environmentalists celebrate economic recessions? Don't economic setbacks advance their goals? Perhaps they do celebrate quietly, maybe in the private chambers of their own hearts. It's not good PR to exult at misfortune."

I love the series of simpleminded tautologies that assume that: 1. More jobs or opportunities for economic growth won't be required or created by perfecting technologies and expanding industries dedicated to clean energy production, 2. That economic downturns don't provide an opportunity for learning what to do differently, rather than what to not do at all, 3. That not working or engaging in economic activity is a requirement of a clean and ecologically well-managed planet, 4. That it's bad for the economy for companies to more wisely conserve, or more cleanly appropriate the use of their own resources, even though doing so improves, you know, the bottom line.

Perhaps Wisconsin and New York are a little behind the game, but the business community is not. There are a number of books on green economics whose ideas are becoming mainstream in the world of executive management. It takes some vast ignorance of chemistry to not see the obvious relationships between economic efficiency and the means of production when it comes to improving the environmental profile of industries with significant ecological impact.

Trumpit said...

"It's all about sitting on the lower orders and farting in their faces."

Are you trying to show some class, ricpic, by not saying "shitting". But you are a lazy fool and a low class peasant who has no class, so go ahead and use the S word along with N word that you favor.

Your "bedtime for Bonzo" shitty Actor buddy Ronny Reagan started the war on the middle class by his trickle down economic theory (that failed in practice) that was all about the rich. And your other shitty buddy that you voted for twice, Bush baby, finished the war on middle class with tax cuts for the wealthy and war and shit for the inferior lower classes who deserve to eat shit according to people like you and Bush.

Yes, because your lazy ass is collecting checks and no longer contributes to the welfare of society. You should be converted to Soylent Green and used for pet food. My two dog wouldn't eat you, though, they're used to gourmet organic chicken.

Maguro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maguro said...

"And nobody in Washington really cares."

True, but what could Washington do to "save the rustbelt" even if the politicians cared deeply?

Presumably the politicos in Harrisburg care, but they haven't been able to stop Western PA from continuing to empty out.

What makes you think Washington could do better?

Kirby Olson said...

The very hunters and fishers that Obama thinks are stupid embittered fools actually are quite interested in the health of the environment, and care about it, and probably know more about it than stupid Obama.

rhhardin said...

Trickle-down economics is about more capital per worker.

Who is likely to have a higher standard of living, the manual ditch-digger or the operator of a steam shovel?

Capital, in turn, is extra money.

Meade said...

"...You should be converted to Soylent Green and used for pet food. My two dog wouldn't eat you, though, they're used to gourmet organic chicken."

That's a lot of foaming at the mouth, Trumpit. You sure all your rabies vaccinations are up to date?

And don't forget to pick up and properly dispose of your two dog... feces. Thank you. Pathogens, ya know.

Chip Ahoy said...

Trumpit must be thinking it's the poor that are paying taxes. Tax breaks for people who pay little to no taxes at all have no affect whatever. Ever take an economics course or two, Trumpit? I recommend it, although they won't help you balance your checkbook or teach you anything about investing. It's the wealthy in this country that pay the bulk of the taxes. Any meaningful tax break will redound to the wealthy where it actually has an affect. And a big one at that. There. You've now been told that for the 1,000th time. Do I win something for patience toward the resolutely retarded?

Seneca the Younger said...

Along the same lines, I note the same people who are currently most vocal about the high cost of gasoline were also anxious to see a 50 cent a gallon tax on gasoline.

from which I deduce it's not the high cost of gas that bothers them, it's that they don't get control of the profits.

ricpic said...

Kill the enemy, is that it Trumpit? you big compassionate liberal, you.

Cedarford said...

Bob said...
And many of the most extreme environmentalists see human beings as the root problem, and secretly wish for a world-wide disease epidemic to wipe out humanity, since their first love is for the planet, not their own species. Sad, but true.


The pity is that mainstream evironmentalists have not embraced the truth that human overpopulation is the root cause of global warming, resource depletion, collapsing ecosystems, vanishing wild habitat. (That threatens another mass extinction event that many scientists believe is already underway and will exceeded the impact of the megafauna extinction paleolithic man caused.) That is because mainstream environmentalists came to believe that magic "high technology" and conservation will somehow save the planet and allow humans to multiply geometrically until we "stabilize"....but until then, that it would be counterproductive to speak out against overpopulation, Open Borders, increasing "brown people power", and more humans=more GNP=more wealth and power for the Owner Class of the Ruling Elites.

To speak out against excessive humans on the planet unraveling ecological webs that allowed us to have civilization and good lives in the first place invites fund raising drying up fr wealthy and corporate donors, accusation of "racism" against fast-breeding populations.

In 1900 there were 1.5 billion people globally, 82 million in the USA & Canada, 74 million in all Latin America and the Caribbean. There were 200 million Muslims globally.

In 2008, there were 6.7 billion people. 300 million in the USA with 80 million immigrant or 1st 2nd gen descendents of immigrants. 1.3 billion Muslims. 550 million people to America's South.

In 2050, we are supposed to find "exciting alternative energy" and "high tech solutions" to support US Census projections of 438 million people when we are already net food and energy importers,air and much of our road system is in gridlock, and development blocks new mass transit lines without sweeping urban and suburban demolition to support it. With 9.4 billion people globally, 810 million south of our "border".

Census projects that unless the US changes policies, we are on track for 720 million "Americans" (most hispanic arrivals since 1965 and their descendents), by 2100. 12.8 billion globally.

Once, when we had about 170 million in the early 60s, America was a petroleum exporter. Population growth, not SUVs, eliminated our surpluses. Indeed, Saudi Arabia has said that given their population growth, it is inevitable that their oil exports stand to be cut to serve their masses. (Saudi Arabia went from under 1 million in 1900 to 4 million in 1960 to 30 million today with unemployment of most young men exceeding 30% - now common in unstable Arab and African lands as surplus males have no real prospects unless they chose war or some country lets them immigrate in.)

bearbee said...

...And your other shitty buddy that you voted for twice, Bush baby, finished the war on middle class with tax cuts for the wealthy...

Assuming the 2003 tax plan is the same as is now in place, Table 1 (see link) indicates repeal will be greatest felt by lower to middle class
If the Bush Tax Cut is Repealed, How Much Will Your Taxes Increase?

rhhardin said...

The reason New Orleans went third-world, and Mississippi bounced back, after Katrina is that people in Mississippi helped each other, and people in New Orleans didn't.

The same thing works for population in general. The more people there are, the more helpers there are.

Unless you work them into helplessness. TV does a lot of that.

Fritz said...

Yes Ann, they do celebrate capitalism's downfall; it is called neo-marxist global warming movement.

Middle Class Guy said...

trumpit said:
And your other shitty buddy that you voted for twice, Bush baby, finished the war on middle class with tax cuts for the wealthy and war and shit for the inferior lower classes who deserve to eat shit according to people like you and Bush.


You sir are a bald face liar! Bush lowered taxes on the middle class too. He lowered the taxes that your pal, Uncle Festus raised on us- the with holding tax. Uncle Festus raised taxes on the middle class as well as the so called wealthy. The democrats definition of wealthy is anyone who is not on welfare.

As far as I am concerned, taxes on everyone should be lowered by about one third more. Then those nit wits in DC won't be able to waste any more money a projects like supporting people from cradle to grave.

knoxwhirled said...

I don't know the technicalities of Bush's tax cut, but we did get a refund check when it was passed years ago, and at that time we barely made enough to be considered middle-class; so his tax cuts definitely weren't for the rich. Sorry, I know that doesn't fit the "Bush Sux" narrative...

knoxwhirled said...

Is trumpit derve or what. He/she is completely off-the-charts.

vet66 said...

I figure around 2040 the population in the U.S. will decline precipitously as the boomers, myself included, begin to succumb to old age. After that milestone is passed there should be excess housing available, more gasoline, etc., and global warming will not be a problem here.

With most, if not all, of the steel production now residing in third world countries, how come those smokestack states aren't claiming a decrease in global warming and carbon footprints as a result? They did their part and get no credit for the huge sacrifice.

I suppose the prevailing westerly winds were blowing all manner of noxious pollutants across Martha's Vineyard and the Hamptons. Can't have that. Smog and a horizon replete with windmills is too much for east coast blue-bloods to spend to stop global warming.

All roads lead back to NIMBY.

Original Mike said...

When the Bush tax cuts passed the NYT wrote an article decrying that the middle class didn't have their taxes cut. They chose a family in Texas, husband and wife both active in the Democrat party, to interview. This couple complained that their taxes hadn't gone down, though there were no numbers in it, and they even admitted in the article they hadn't actually compared their before and after taxes.

The Washington Times then wrote an article in which they did the work the NYT neglected; they calculated the couples taxes. They had to estimate, since the couple was not a willing participant. Based on their income reported in the original piece (I don't recall it now, but it was in the $60k to $80k range) and the couples kids, the WT estimated they received a tax cut of $2,000; a sizable percentage of their total tax.

These people, and the NYT, were so sure they didn't benefit, the never took the time to figure it out.

Kirby Olson said...

Obama should deal with his wife's bitterness, first.

knoxwhirled said...

Why don't environmentalists celebrate economic recessions?

A lot of them do, and are only really "environmentalists" peripherally... their main goal is to slow down the US economy by protesting every form of energy that makes things run efficiently. That's why so many of them express contempt for conspicuous consumption--what they really hate is capitalism.

Environmentalism just provides cover. I would like to believe it's not true but so many of them are such total dildos, (AL GORE I'M TALKING TO YOU) there's no other explanation.

John Stodder said...

Zeb Quinn said...
Derailing free market economies is implicitly foundational to environmentalism.
11:01 AM


Not at all; not inevitably.

Standing back from all the unfortunate sentimentalism that plagues the environmental movement, it's really very simple: Working to improve the environment is a common effort, just like national security, public safety or regulations to protect worker safety. It's the kind of thing that can't be done except by government, although government depends on technical innovation from the private sector to make any progress.

The problems with environmental policy and regulation are many. It costs way too much. There are overlapping and unclear jurisdictions and lots of mission creep. Activists hijack the process frequently to pursue illegitimate ends. All that stuff sucks, but you find the same degree of wastefulness, fraud and self-dealing in the other areas I mentioned, such as the defense budget. You wouldn't shut down the Air Force just because congress makes them buy aircraft they don't need for political reasons. It might be the cost of doing business.

But there is no question in my mind that as wealth and output increases, so does environmental quality. That's what the global warming folks have gotten wrong. They look at the US' use of energy and assume that's a sign of our evil, without looking at the output per unit of energy. And they forget that it is in the wealthy industrial countries where the environmental ethic has been formed, the political support for taking on the costs of improvement.

I consider myself an environmentalist, but I wish we could go back to the days when environmentalists fought "pollution," defined as something that poisons life in a specific area. The highly abstract problem of global warming, about which there really is no credible consensus or ultimate finding, has diverted us into a ridiculous debate; when there is ample reason to push for cleaner fuels, justified simply because the high levels of pollution caused by extraction, use and disposal of oil, coal and gas.

knoxwhirled said...

And they forget that it is in the wealthy industrial countries where the environmental ethic has been formed

hm, I don't think they've forgotten necessarily. They just don't care.

It's obvious to anyone with a brain that the industrialized nations are the ones who are working hardest towards being responsible. But "environmentalists" still blame them and demand ever more from them.

former law student said...

It's a bad sign that the river runs cleaner, because it means that the factories upstream are closed...Don't economic setbacks advance [environmentalists'] goals?

I don't think so, any more than anti-smoking campaigners would celebrate if all the remaining smokers suddenly died from lung cancer. ("Yes, our job is done!" [fist pump])The goal is to keep factories and other sources from putting their crap in the river, not eliminate factories.

AlphaLiberal said...

Still, I wonder: Why don't environmentalists celebrate economic recessions? Don't economic setbacks advance their goals?

Whoa. That's a statement loaded with assumptions.

To the point, because we can have both environmental protection and economic prosperity. Actually, a better environment spurs greater economic health, as well as public health.

And shifting the pollution to other countries is not good policy. Indeed, we've exported our pollution with trade policies that ignore the incentives to pollute.

And I noticed that line, too. I also noticed how the people interviewed agreed the "bitter" dustup was BS.

blake said...

George,

That's no Indian.

blake said...

The prosperity occasioned by free markets is what makes concern for the environment possible.

And, don't you worry, Cedarford, the Malthusians will be back, in full force, in no time.

Richard Fagin said...

Years ago, one of the TV news networks covered a public hearing to grant an operating license for Unit 1 at the Three Mile Island facility (which was not operating and was not damaged in the 1979 accident that ruined Unit 2). To this day I can still hear the protestors yelling, "Nazis! Muderers!"

I think that says it all, including that present day reporters have no sense of irony. Recently it was reported that Houston just "passed" Los Angeles as the U.S. city putting the most carbon in the atmoshpere, and, gasp!, it's caused by INDUSTRY!

I think I'll go look for a highway telepropmter with OZONE ALERT TODAY on it so I can laugh some more (yes they really have those).

P. Rich said...

Politicians, media and various lefty activists - to name a cozy few - function on the childish theory that there must be micro-solutions to macro-problems, and they must be legislated NOW!

In fact, major economic trends (for example) play out over decades, and the mechanisms are complex. Thus we get idiotic laws purported to "solve" a problem that is not well-understood and for which there is no simple, immediate solution. But, pols can trumpet their actions, media get to fill column inches and air time, and the activists get one night's self-congratulatory sleep before engaging in another narcissistic quest. Meanwhile, unintended consequences quietly go to work in the night.

reader_iam said...

any more than anti-smoking campaigners would celebrate if all the remaining smokers suddenly died from lung cancer.

You sure about that?

Mitch H. said...

The mills are long gone. They were razed and built over with office parks. My father worked in one of those office buildings for about five years before his retirement. He's been retired in Florida for going on four years ago.

As for the Mon flowing cleaner, I wonder how many current Mon Valley voters remember the last time that river was heavily polluted, when a fuel tank upstream at Ashland ruptured & we had our very own inland oil-slick disaster?

BTW, the Mon never comes anywhere Lake Erie - it rises in West Virginia, and flows into the Ohio and eventually the Mississippi. And it wasn't Lake Erie which caught on fire, it was the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Pittsburgh's hated football rival-city.