April 24, 2005

Social value

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater executive director Andrew Mele is quoted by the Plattsburgh (N.Y.) Press-Republican in support not of restoring a mining property in the Adirondack State Park to its natural state but of erecting an industrial wind power facility on it: "We need to shift our sense of aesthetics to include the social value these wind turbines provide. They are tall and graceful and can be seen as beautiful."

Isn't that exactly what every industrialist claims for his factory? Isn't that exactly what the oil companies claim as they salivate to dig up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? Sure, they say, there's a certain cost, but the claim of a "greater good" allows scoffing at any critical concern as "quaint," allows justifying any violation of aesthetics, morality, or just plain reason as "worth it." From unprovoked war in Iraq to power plants in wilderness areas, these are the social values so many self-styled environmentalists now promote.

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