Thursday, November 01, 2007

Effecting social change, effectively

I put a story on the front page today about how NOAA Fisheries (the agency in charge of fish recovery) thinks the new plan for operation of dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers will probably work out OK for salmon and steelhead. And yesterday, I ran a story on a dike breaching in the Klamath Basin that is a step in the restoration of habitat for endangered suckerfish.

Just as these stories signify probably good news for species threatened by humans, they are also about Chapter 1,000 in these ongoing struggles. And my god, in this region you would be hard pressed to find more divisive problems.

The deep irony is that unlike the process of finding a solution, these fish vs. people problems are simple. If you damage fish habitat, you hurt fish. If you want to help fish, quit damming their rivers/using their water/killing them. Not too complicated, except, you know, for the livelihoods of people who benefit from dead fish.

In the Northeast, where the culture is as different from the Northwest as the topography is similar, these problems aren't really problems.

Writ small, wilderness lovers and snowmobilers coexist peacefully (how? they just work out a deal for who can play where) and damn near nobody minds if you hunt or hike on their land (but please ask permission or at least check in with the owner).

Writ large, businesses and activists work together to reduce air pollution, improve fish habitat, you name it.

As I suggested above, I'd put this down to cultural differences. But another factor is that the businesses and activists find ways to make being "green" make some green, which is the thesis of yet another econ disseration I will not write.

If you want change, make sure it keeps you in the black.

Like Wilford Brimley said, it's the right thing to do, and a tasty way to do it.

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