Siry's Ecology Forum

Environmental matters in the context of Postman's critique  


Environmental problems

                                   J Siry

Three basic Premises:

What do we know from our readings?

1. if we are past the age of exposition, and

2. we favor show over substance in getting our points across to a mass audience in a context where we promote common understanding, and

3. we are accustomed to,  acclimated, or “too well adjusted to the narcosis of technology in the communications media,

Then how do we convey the complexity and the details in the following problems:

• Water pollution and the undermining of the (clean water network) enforcement, monitoring and costs of controlling
A. storm water runoff
B. minimum flows and levels (for river systems)
C. interagency communication among experts (NOAA, USFWS, NMFS, EPA, OMB, CBO, Do Energy, B, NPS, D of A)
D. pollutants not covered by the Clean Water Act
            D1. stated pollutants
            D2. synergy – or combined impacts of separately regulated pollutants that are below the threshold individually but cause damage from the combined effects of one or more toxic substances that is greater than the sum of their separate effects.

• The present standoff between the Supreme Court and the EPA over the interpretation of the Clean Air Act covering carbon dioxide emissions.

• The undermining of the Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection acts

• The means to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from industries that spew heat trapping gases and exacerbate acid rain, greenhouse effects and mercury build-up.

• The opening up of federal lands to mining and mineral leasing despite conflicts with timber and grazing leases.

• The agency capture experience where people from industries that bureaus are legally sanctioned to regulate are placed in political positions within Bureaus (FDA, or Dept. of Agriculture) and reduce the enforcement of regulations. Quis Custodiet matter.

• The exploration for oil and natural gas on federal lands especially outer continental shelf and wildlife refuges.

• Minority rights in situations where the majority may favor actions that harm, people, species, vegetation or runoff of fresh water.

All are complicated specialized and detailed problems that John Dewey had warned us about – are difficult for democracies to reconcile expertise with the “general will.”


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