I was on the radio with Lee Rayburn recently and again an old adage came up, “Think globally, act locally.” Somewhere along the line I think this has been interpreted incorrectly. While I believe protest is a good thing for a society, without accompanying action it always rings hollow to me and the way it is used today seems more political than an action to gain a desired result. In short, while a local action, it doesn’t always provide forward motion.
For example, I’m bombarded by folks in Ithaca who say republicans stand in the way of new energy technology and that Global Warming is the greatest threat to the planet; they say republicans are “anti-science” for challenging some of the assertions made about global warming. It’s hard to be lectured by a group though where many do very little in their private lives to combat global warming other than tell people how they’re not doing enough. I invested in solar panels, one of only a handful of local politicians or activists to do so. We now have another county legislator who also supports action on this issue with her wallet and not just words. It’s not that words are unnecessary, but there are opportunities today that can do more than a march. Is planting a tree that hard? How old is your water heater? Air-source water heaters are a little more, but pay for themselves in savings in about two years.
I’ve been told that natural gas is just as bad as coal. That’s just not true. Is methane released when drilling? That’s likely. Do energy companies try and capture that? Yes, and have greatly reduced that release. Should they be made to? Sure. But let’s not act as if natural gas isn’t preferable over coal. Think if the powerplant had been repowered with natural gas over coal a decade ago instead of the move being blocked by “environmentalists.” How much less carbon would be in the atmosphere today?
Lansing is under a moratorium, endorsed by many outside of Lansing, living in towns not under a moratorium. Those arguing for a continuation of the moratorium say that this will force developers to use alternative heating sources, like heat pumps, effective for certain builds like apartment buildings with over four units, but not every application. But this begs the question, why are these folks who approve of the Lansing moratorium not pushing for natural gas moratoriums in their own towns and cities? Perhaps Dryden, the City and Town of Ithaca are preparing changes to their buildings codes, but the Lansing moratorium is years old; will these changes be coming soon to these other town and city building codes or is it just Lansing that will carry this torch?
I made the assertion during the campaign that the closing of the salt mine under the lake would raise our carbon footprint. It only makes sense that municipalities get salt from the closest location available. It’s the shipping that adds cost. So, if your closest source closes, naturally you have to get it from further away raising your footprint. Simple and yet, that fact gets in the way of “we’re doing something for the environment! (that will cost jobs for no reason)”
Some municipalities went so far as to join in a lawsuit against the state Department of Environmental conservation based on apples and oranges comparisons to other salt mines and claims that the DEC did not do its due diligence. Much of this information comes from a source that also claims Ithaca Falls, the second most visited park in Ithaca, has dangerous levels of lead. Does the city also believe this source on that claim? Will they be filing an article 78 against the DEC which has signed off saying the lead contamination has been mitigated and the falls are safe?
Even on housing, something that pretty much everybody agrees Tompkins County needs more of, we see the town of Ithaca banning the construction of two family homes. For many, that’s a starter home. You live in one side, a tenant pays your mortgage. And no, that’s not robbing a tenant. That’s providing housing for someone who doesn’t want to or have the means yet to buy.
I’m not discouraging folks to think globally, but it is challenging when I see folks: working to make their corner of the world better, saving good mining jobs that also save taxpayers money and benefit the environment, making the decision to put solar panels on their homes and barns, supporting transitional fuels understanding that to retrofit Tompkins County to all renewable energy will take decades and in the meantime, it’s better to use cleaner sources, and be told they are not doing enough, when those telling them that are not living by the same standards. Sure, think globally, but act locally.