Environmental fairy tales

Wednesday August 8, 2012


It has been suggested re cently by a columnist in The Eagle that citizens opposing Governor Patrick's policy to industrialize the ridges of Berkshire County with hundreds of 500-ft. high wind turbines are merely NIMBYistas who are affecting "the future of the planet." He also notes that the issue of warmer weather is a "terrifying problem." This hysterical chatter brings to mind a fable.

Once upon a time, in the 1990s actually, Chicken Little was on her way home from grandmother's house. Oops, that's another story. Anyway Chicken Little was caught in an unseasonal thunderstorm producing hail the size of jumbo eggs that pelted her head repeatedly. Chicken Little, being a chicken and not particularly bright, began screaming across the countryside, "The sky is falling. The sky is falling. We must tell the president. If we don't do something we will all drown in mud puddles."

She quickly found equally gullible fowl in her barnyard, Loosey Goosey and Duckey Lucky. In chorus they squawked across the land, "The sky is falling. The sky is falling. What are we to do? We must tell the president."

Cockey Lockey, barnyard boss, overheard the racket and crowed, "Calm down ladies, it's just the weather, an expression of inexorable natural forc es. All things have their cycles including the weather. Go back to your scratching or watch some cable TV on the new flat screen."

Lurking just outside the perimeter of the barnyard and overhearing the clamor was sly Foxey Loxey, who when not eating chickens, worked part-time as a media consultant and lobbyist for the energy industry. Ah ha he said to himself. "I've got an idea." Soon thereafter on the 24-hour news cycle, regular apocalyptical reports appeared about global warming, climate change and the imminent disaster that awaited chickens of the world unless they changed their ways. Tornadoes, hurricanes, drought, earthquakes, tsetse flies and relocated polar bears were all coming to the barnyard and real soon.

Chicken Little, Loosey Goos ey and Duckey Lucky were even more besides themselves and continued to cry, "The sky is falling. The sky is falling. We must tell the president or at least Al Gore." Cockey Lockey continued to reassure them and explained "Over the course of time our beautiful planet has continually evolved from a molten fireball to half frozen and covered by glaciers only 10,000 years ago. Animals of all kind, especially humans, who originated in equatorial Africa and naturally suited to the tropics, have adapted or migrated when conditions change or become unfavorable. Calm down and watch ‘Desperate Housewives.' "


Chicken Little, Loosey Goosey and Duckey Lucky sat down and tuned in Foxey TV, whose motto "You Watch, We Decide." completely suited them. There they learned that the only safe place to hide from climate change was the interior of Foxey Loxey's den. Inside they would be kept warm and dry by hydrofracked natural gas and with a lifetime subscription to cable TV. Their only compromise would be that they could no longer scratch under the warm sun and blue sky surrounded by the green countryside. Instead they would live in the flickering shadows of monstrous wind turbines in the barnyard that would BBQ their nervous systems and their water would be slightly toxic from all the hydrofracking. But the fowl were all grateful for the cable TV and extremely cooperative and not wanting to be labeled NIMBYistas followed the mantra of their great leaders and in the name of the "common good" lived unhappily ever after.

Moral: To influence the masses, aim first at the least intelligent or Don't be a dumb cluck and turn off the TV once and a while.

In reality there is nothing we can do about the weather. If a new natural cycle is upon us of melting ice-caps and rising sea levels, it will take at least several thousand years for nature to fully express itself. So perhaps many decades from now, people who had the temerity to build along the shoreline might have to migrate slightly inland. So Florida and Long Island are partially submerged. Sayonara.

What is most important is not to let hysteria be the basis for rational policy. Mammoth wind turbines are far from benign and an independent epidemiological study needs to be done. The industrialization of cherished natural resources such as the Nantucket Sound and the Berkshire Hills will do nothing to affect the weather, oil politics in the Middle East or the "future of the planet." It will merely add to the lengthy list of ecosystems and places of beauty, that have their own inherent spiritual and natural value, despoiled by man's hubris. The crisis is not in energy, but in vision.


Carl Rosenstein is a resident
of Becket.


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