No I'm not kidding, and if you want to make a dent in dirty carbon, the good things are more of a problem than the bad.
The issue I'm talking about is one I consider to be second only to climate change in being a direct threat to the health and well being of Americans and something that should concern any liberal. The fact that we ignore it speaks to the disconnect that dooms so much of environmental activism over the past thirty years. Oh ya, I know, we sue this and that government agency and sometimes win in court. But still we seem to lose.
Follow the thread below the tangled web of interconnected social issues and I promise we'll arrive at an open pit mine with dump trucks bigger than houses.
What kind of got me started was a great article I read by this guy who recently returned to the intermountain west to find the blue collar jobs in his old hometown didn't pay $h!t. Which got him thinking about the GINI index, a measure of the gap between high and low incomes of an area. Mountain vacation towns, groovy places, places with all the beautiful people, have a big income gap. New York city, Boulder Colorado, San Francisco.
Being cool comes at a price, that price is paid by all the people that serve the food, deliver mail, wash the dishes and build the houses, yet the cost of living drives them to the poor house. Hold your horses, I'm getting there.
Other places everyone is poor and equal. Bent County Colorado close to me springs to mind. Go to Household Income Distribution part of the map
But then there are other unusual places, upper middle income, but not many poor, and not many rich. Everyone makes way above the average of $50K household income which is the median in the US. Gillette Wyoming and Garfield County Colorado, Sublette and Sweetwater Counties Wyoming.
What these places all have in common is energy extraction. Good paying blue collar jobs. Work at that Powder River Mine up in Gillette pays good, work is steady, good benefits. By good pay I mean good like you make. Six figures even.
People can pay for stuff, buy normal houses, go visit the relatives, think about the kids going to college.
You take that job away and you've got one pissed off coal miner. Like everyone they don't live with too much of a cushion. They lose their job and the unemployment runs out and they're flipping burgers for a quarter the money they were used to, if they're lucky. Divorce, bankruptcy, repossession of houses and cars, now they're just lowlife poor people like everyone else.
Until you find something for ex coal miners to do you have a problem. Even the threat of shutting down the mine gets people very angry. The health and well being of their entire family is what you are threatening.
It's the auto industry and logging and the steel mills all over again. We've got a carbon problem and we've got an income problem, and until we fix the income one it's going to be uphill on the carbon one. Try telling someone struggling to keep gas in the tank that CO2 is a big threat and we have to stop drilling on public lands and stop importing lots a dirty oil from Canada. They're going to look at you like you are out of your ever flippin mind.
Peter Kareiva the Chief Scientist and Director of Science at the Nature Conservancy (richest conservation org on the planet) first came to a realization that when you can't win when you threaten peoples jobs during the fight over spotted owls. The logging stopped, but the children and families of those loggers still remember it to this day, and I don't think many children of the coal mines or oil rigs cares who chained themselves to the white house gate.