Letter: Balentine's 'Big Environment' is a right-wing fantasy

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I am appalled after reading John Balentine’s “The real threat is ‘Big Environment.’” As a lifelong environmentalist, I am disheartened by the false narrative and lack of understanding of our current threats from global climate catastrophe.

Having worked for two dozen environmental organizations of many sizes for over 40 years, I have never seen a plethora of money. In fact, I have donated hundreds of hours and monies to these organizations.

“Big Environment” is a typical conservative ploy: Label what you hate as the enemy, and boost it as a monster – almost Trumpian. Money spent by the real Big Oil, Gas and Coal is an order of magnitude more. The Koch brothers, ExxonMobil, and companies of their like have donated billions to anti-environmental, anti-science think-tanks and lobbyists. On occasion environmental organizations get money from a single wealthy donor, but it pales in comparison. Environmental organizations rise above, are supported by regular people and science, and have credibility.

Oil spills in Portland Harbor influenced the decision of South Portland to adopt its Clear Skies Ordinance. Pipeline transport of tar sands would be a disaster; this is a good first step to stop this influx of the dirtiest oil. We are on the edge of catastrophic climate change; each day we ignore it puts us one step closer. While I have picked up roadside soda cans and trash for years, being an environmentalist is so much more than that.

Paul Weiss

  • Understand when you put their new phrase in a headline, you spread it.

  • Bowdoin81

    Many congrats and thanks for your sincere efforts.
    I think we the people will have a better chance of agreeing on a path forward only when we can all stipulate one crucial, demonstrable fact: cheap energy, mainly in the form of fossil fuels, has extended and improved human life on earth and lifted more people out of grinding poverty than any other innovation in human history.
    Do we have consensus on that fact?

    • truther

      How is that relevant?

    • mainereason

      Yes! And so did refrigeration and fire but as new, and better technology becomes available we should adapt. Looking at fossil fuels only through the lens of their benefits ignores the tremendous negative impacts they have had as well. Moving forward indeed, unfortunately the Ballentines and Trumps of the world seem intent on moving us backward. Renewing our use of coal is a horrible idea and will have negligible economic benefit yet will renew and extend the toxic legacy that follows the industry wherever it goes. Living downwind of the tailpipe we might be better off looking to newer, better technology.

    • Just Sayin’

      I will agree that affordable energy has improved human life almost immeasurably. I could argue that certain other discoveries were actually far more important in extending the human lifespan, affordable energy has certainly done more than I can say for the quality of life for most people.

      That being said, there’s no reason that affordable energy can’t also be poisoning the environment and the very same people that it provides benefits to. Is ending up with cancer in your 50’s better than dying of cholera in your youth? Yes, arguably. It doesn’t, however, make getting cancer in later life actually desirable.

      Nor does the history of affordable energy change the fact that we are now positioned to be able to get affordable energy from far safer sources. From sources that won’t so doggedly release toxic materials into the air, water, and food we consume. Sources that aren’t relying on dwindling natural resources that are increasingly costly, damaging, and dangerous to obtain.

      Fossil Fuels may have elevated us to the stage we are now, but it will take something new and better for us to continue to ascend. The answer is right before us. We have the scientific knowledge and the manufacturing capabilities to make energy both clean and affordable. The switch over will be costly, but it is a finite cost.

      The costs of remaining reliant on dirty, toxic, and dangerous sources of power increase with each passing moment.