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Getting smart about energy

Dear Editors,

We appreciate the Durango Telegraph's interest and attention to renewable energy and energy efficiency and the recent article (July 1) about the Southwest Colorado Smart Energy Alliance (SWCSEA) and our meeting with La Plata Electric Association. We neglected to mention that our group meets monthly every second Wednesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Durango City Hall, 949 E. Second Ave., in City Council Chambers. Our next meeting is Wednesday, Aug. 11, and we encourage all parties interested in advocating for greater support of energy efficiency and renewable energy in the Four Corners area to join us.

If you can't attend our meetings but are still interested in local renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives, please call 385-4932 or send an e-mail to stetzm@netscape.net to be added to our e-mail distribution list and keep abreast of future events.

Additionally, we wanted to announce that the Colorado Renewable Energy Society has accepted SWCSEA's petition to become a regional group representing the counties of Montezuma, La Plata, Archuleta, Dolores and San Juan. (This will require SWCSEA to change its name to include "CRES" stay tuned for our new name.)

Finally, we would like to make a slight correction to the July 1 article. Chris Calwell referenced a Denver Post story, which did not say that Durango has the same ozone levels as cities with 3 million cars. It said that the two largest power plants near Durango emit as much NOx as 3 million cars. Therefore, we're getting proportionate air quality impacts from those power plants. The distinction is between getting a part of that impact (by living some distance from those power plants) and getting all of it (if all of their emissions were somehow captured and localized here).

Michelle Reott, treasurer

Southwest Colorado Smart Energy Alliance (SWCSEA)

P.S. Kassandra Johnson's Soapbox letter (July 22) raised the concept of "taxing trophy home builders an extreme bundle for squandering our finite resources." She would be pleased to know that Aspen and Pitkin County are doing just that through the Community Office of Resource Efficiency's Renewable Energy Mitigation Program (www.aspencore.org)." Here's an interesting article on the program from Grist Magazine www.gristmagazine.com/" . This concept presents an interesting conundrum as I often hear that we don't want Durango to become another Aspen; yet, this is one instance where we might want to reconsider that notion. (FYI: Randy Udall, CORE's executive director, was a speaker last October at the Durango Green Business Roundtable. This season's first GBR is Wednesday, Sept. 8 at noon at the Strater Hotel.)

Environmentalism is the new fundamentalism

(Editors' note: The following is a response to a letter printed in the July 22 issue of the Telegraph on how people should respond to the watering down of regulations for roadless areas.)

Dear Editors,

Today's environmental movement serves mainly as a vehicle for a minority of special-interest groups seeking to foist their views on the majority through political means. Its cash-laden lobbies use the environment to get votes. Its strategy is to convince us that its dubious opinions or mistaken interpretations are indeed facts that we must respond to or suffer dire consequences. Close examination of its practices reveals its indifference to the truth of its assertions or even whether it pursues correct goals derived from sound science. They'll even jettison the notion of inalienable rights and the rule of law because the movement feels those are an artificial anthropocentrism which only legitimizes selfish destruction of the planet. That this never seems to bother environmentalists, who take for granted all their own rights, their own human values and their own unique human individuality should be taken as a sign of something wrong.

Sure, modern ecology claims to be scientific. Unfortunately, close critical examination reveals that much of that science is misleading, garbled and inconclusive. The current state of the environmental movement borders on hysteria. Even when sound science surfaces and disputes the movement's view, it's simply ignored by claiming it serves some obscure "evil" entity. Even the fact that most of the leaders of the movement are not scientists but political activists isn't questioned by the movement's believers.

The eco-movement's core beliefs amount to artificial assertions made by those who don't make their living cultivating nature or scientifically understanding it. Their subjective beliefs not only distort the relationship of humans to nature but also condemn the very technological liberation we enjoy from its harsh realities. To propagate these artificial assertions the ecos must ironically project human values and concerns onto an amoral non-human nature, since nature doesn't care. It does so by manipulating a facet of human nature, its susceptibility to religion. The ecos are intentionally and actively attempting to replace existing religions with a new religious-like consciousness centered on a pantheistic view of the world. This new-age type religion has as its fundamental energizing principle the idealization of nature. This psuedo-religion employs a pseudo-scientific banality of therapeutic narcissism. It sees apocalypse just around the corner if we don't abandon our technologies and return to nature. And it then offers a self-gratifying escape from the mythical doom it creates. Its priests, as such, preach that message of salvation. One that is manifestly anti-human just beneath the surface. It commands us to think of ourselves as just one more species, blind to the danger that when we view ourselves as just one more entity among many we cease to be human, and eventually behave like the rest of nature, amorally, indifferent to cruelty and suffering, capable of anything, with no compassion, no pity, no altruism, no virtues we humans value, or at least should. This idealization of nature ignores its own destructiveness and emphasizes instead only its own interpretation of nature's beauty, significance and harmony.

Without humans nature is neither benevolent nor malevolent. In human terms nature becomes quite cruel for it imposes suffering and deaths of not just individuals but whole species with indifference. Compared to bombardment by meteors and asteroids; the " effect caused by volcanic activity; ice ages; tectonic plate movements; periodic changes in the earth's orbit; and polarity reversal in the earth's magnetic field, the effects of a few centuries of human existence are a mere brief rash. In fact even wholesale destruction is part of nature's modus operandus. Approximately 99% of all species of life thatever existed are extinct, mostly from nature,not humans. Humans exist only because of mass extinction on this planet. The quite natural cycle of loss of life on Earth that bothers environmentalists doesn't bother nature at all. For billions of years nature did very well without humans. It also did very well without environmentalism.

The eco-movement also overstates humanity's destruction of the planet while underestimating nature's power and resiliency. Humans are pinpricks compared to forces nature is accustomed to resisting. And of course the movement ignores the advances made cleaning up pollution, while improving human life on the planet. It also resorts to intellectual dishonesty by ignoring the spectacular failures of its own predictions and the load of facts, proof and evidence that contradict its beliefs.

Kim Rogalin,

via e-mail





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