Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Open letter to Raheem Hosseini re his global warming editorial

Today's Amador Ledger Dispatch includes a fine editorial by Raheem Hosseini on the county supervisors' recent rejection of the Cool Counties initiative and his disappointment at the lack of public outcry. I started to write Raheem an e-mail in response, but decided to publish the content here, instead . . .

Hi, Raheem:

Just so you know, it's not that local enviros like me don't understand the implications of global warming or think the county shouldn't get on board. We just try to be judicious regarding which battles to fight, where, when, and how.

Public hearings on issues of this type are opportunities for demagoguery and seldom lead to anything very positive or productive. And chiding the supervisors after the fact isn't productive at all, at least not from where I sit.

At the risk of sounding like the older person I am fast becoming, I have to say that I was much quicker to jump to a fight when I was 25 than I am now. It's not that I don't have as many opinions, or that they are any less strong, but I have a different perspective on how to get things done.

For example, I'd rather slog through countless hours of review and edits and discussion of county general plan goals and policies that can reduce local GHG generation for the next 20 years (as I have been doing over the last six weeks) than spend just one hour in a hearing that will have little impact in the long run --- especially if it means listening to people who know nothing about the issue go on and on about it.

Of course, since the Ledger isn't covering the General Plan Advisory Committee meetings, you don't know about all the work that's going into those goals and policies -- or the conflicts playing out between people who want the plan to actually do something and those who are trying to make it as toothless as possible.

So from my perspective, expending a lot of energy on the Cool Counties resolution didn't fall under the category of time well spent. That may disappoint you -- it's obvious you wanted more from local enviros on the issue than we gave you this time -- but please consider that sometimes a lack of outcry may just mean that the would-be outcryers (sp?) are out working their fingers off making real change rather than jumping at opportunities to beat their heads against a wall.

That never works and you just end up with a headache.

Thanks for being out there using your bully pulpit to advantage. Loved the redacted W-2 reference.



Raheem Hosseini said...

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I'll attempt to answer with one of my own. We don’t make every GPAC meeting, but we have attended a few (despite my reporters' best objections). And you're right: the general plan is an area where you can shape future growth responsibly. But I have to disagree with the notion that the “cool counties” initiative is little more than window dressing for communities that may not be interested in anything more than appearances. It sets specific goals for the counties that adopt it, and the board of supervisors' opposition to joining isn't to be dismissed.
Even as a symbolic measure, it carries a certain weight simply by admitting global warming is a manmade problem we can no longer ignore.
I realize that not everyone knew it was on the agenda, that people are busy with their everyday lives, that groups can't make it to every meeting, that the conservancy is waging environmental battles on multiple fronts.
But (and you knew this was coming) until following up on Judie Marks' Sept. 21 original coverage of the meeting with last week's story and this week's editorial, no one blinked at the decision. No one spoke up.
I had to travel outside the county (figuratively) to Alameda to find someone non-plussed enough by the 3-2 vote to want to take action.
My question is this: How hard would it have been for the conservancy or other environmentally conscious groups and individuals to simply send the board of supervisors a letter expressing support for the initiative and disappointment at the decision?
Chris Wright had time to write an e-mail to the Ledger Dispatch defending the conservancy's record (in today’s edition) and you had the time to write this letter. What's one more to the people who are actually in charge of making these decisions?
Sure, it probably wouldn't have changed much, but at least it would be part of the historical record. And the next time this issue comes up (and it will), those who support environmental reform wouldn't be starting from zero.

Katherine said...

Hi, Raheem: Appreciate your response. Again, I'd urge you to consider what's effective, and what's not (I am not claiming that writing this blog is effective...).

I am holding out hope that the supervisors will do the right thing on climate change even if they don't pass the resolution. That's what will matter in the end.