Saturday, July 24, 2004

kristof sure straightened me out

thank goodness nick kristof is around to apply his levelheaded, moderating perspective on the environmental movement. as much as i appreciate the guy's excellent and incredibly valuable writings on foreign affairs (his leadership on sudan has been remarkable and deeply respectable) every few months he pulls on his land's end duck boots and wades into environmental issues with some of the more misguided, naive notions that make it into mainstream print. today's contribution to the debate suggests that the environmental movement is too focused on 'sealing off the wilderness.'  in a statement of dazzling naivete, he adds "I also wish that the green movement fought as hard for interactions between humans and our environment as it did against blind development. If environmentalists applied a small fraction of the energy they devoted to fighting snowmobiles in Yellowstone to push for the coast-to-coast trail, we would now have one."I'm not sure what's more spectacular - the notion that he is so undereducated in environmental issues that he believes the dichotomy he's created actually exists, or that the NYT is supportive enough of his sophmoric meanderings on the topic that they dont reject his columns on the topic outright. if mr. kristof took the time to chat with mainstream environmentalists, particularly those committed to conservation of western wildlands, he would learn that there are few individuals MORE committed to creating trail access and allowing low-impact human participation in the backcountry.  kristof's assumption that fighting snowmobiles in Yellowstone is somehow equivalent to misanthropic fencing of the wilderness is downright embarrassing - environmentalists desperately would like more people (read: voters) to get out into the wilderness, as long as their presence can be managed and enabled in ways that do not severely impact those wild places and habitats in damaging ways (read: air pollution, noise impacts, and altering wildlife migration patterns). i welcome kristof's interest in the environment, but his continuing assumptions that these issues are a actually quite simple and just require an objective, common sense approach by a levelheaded intellectual do a disservice to the debate and are an insult to the thousands of people working long hours for crap wages to preserve some chunk of high prairie from becoming a cul-de-sac littered housing development.

- lord humungus


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