Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A watershed choice in party politics

The pundits called the race. And called it, and called it, and called it. Given the number of times that they’ve called it wrong, and given the simple arithmetic truth that the race is still on, one would hope to see the media spend more time observing and reporting than concluding.
The fact that the primaries rage on is a significant fact in my part of the country. Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia are holding their primaries today. This novel grouping was considered a harebrained idea when it began to materialize a year ago. But, for the two states involved, it now means a greater than usual significance in party politics. For the District, it means some rare diagonal say in how residents are governed.
I see what is perhaps an even greater change in this assemblage. The contest was at first nicknamed by the media, “The Beltway Primary”, a decision that irritated the many far-flung residents of the region who never use the road, and which similarly rankled those of us who unfortunately must. Who on Earth would want to be identified by a filthy, noisy highway, known for some of the worst traffic in the country? The moniker “Chesapeake Primary” now seems to be attached to the race.
Though I can’t imagine such reasoning entered into the minds of many who have popularized the name, Chesapeake Primary is both geographically and ecologically insightful. The vast majority of residents of Maryland and Virginia, and all of DC, live in areas that drain ultimately into the Chesapeake. The Bay affects our economy, our weather, and our identity. We impact the amount and cleanliness of the water that enters into it, influencing the health of blue crabs and oysters, and the livelihoods of watermen who depend upon them.
In this election’s name, we have organized part of a national political race around a bioregion. This decision could contribute to important changes in thinking in the relationships between politics and the environment. Chief among these changes is the realization that where we live and the resources we share are at least as important as our party affiliations when building our government.

Image source: NASA/GSFC Earth Observatory


Panhandle Poet said...

I posted just this morning on Common Sense Agriculture, Conservation and Energy about a new report from the USGS about the Chesapeake Bay and the impact of human activities on its recovery.

Alison said...

ERD - Thanks for stopping by my blog. I look forward to reading more about you....looks very interesting!

FG said...

ERD, you asked: "Friendly Ghost,
How do you feel about the use of nuclear energy as a stop-gap measure to reduce carbon emissions while renewables are developed?"

(This was a comment to my post http://climatechangeglobalwarming.blogspot.com/2007/12/global-warming-pressing-panic-button.html)

Well, I am in favour of anything that helps us deal with the problem of climate change. Simultaneously however, I am deeply opposed to anything that mitigates the symptoms rather than dealing with the root causes, because that encourages humankind to keep going further down the same road by merely postponing "judgement day".

The root cause that I refer to is overconsumption of planetary resources. We humans are predisposed to seek increasingly extravagant levels of comfort, and defining these comforts as "needs". We keep pushing back the boundaries of forests, practising intensive "industrial" agriculture and dairying with chemicals fertilizers, pesticides etc. and polluting soil, air and water with all manner of non-biodegradable materials and toxins.

Consumption of fossil fuels is only a small part of the problem; the malaise goes much deeper.

So switching to nuclear fuels is only a miniscule part of the solution (assuming that mankind is truly capable of managing nuclear wastes for 10,000 years or so). The bigger problem needs to be addressed -- the problem of human appetite.

My apologies for using your comments space to reply to your query, as I didn't have your email address. Hope you don't mind.


PS: You may read a further elaboration of my thinking on the subject at http://friendlyghost.rediffiland.com
and also