One of the reasons I keep on subscribing to the Salem Statesman Journal newspaper, a Gannett USA Today clone that is failing our town, is that reading its editorials often gets my heart pumping faster with irritation.
I'm not sure if this substitutes for genuine aerobic exercise, but, hey, it might be health-promoting.
Even the irritation could be positive, since it leads me to mentally deconstruct the reasons I typically find the editorial page editor's (Dick Hughes) opinion pieces lacking in logic. Not as challenging as doing the New York Times crossword puzzle, but intellectually enjoyable.
Case in point: yesterday's "To protect the environment, build Keystone XL pipeline."
Download To protect the environment, build Keystone XL Pipeline (if the piece has been archived)
As much as I detest this editorial, I'll give Hughes credit for coming up with an original argument. Rarely, if ever, do people concerned about the environment argue that building the pipeline is good for our one and only Earth.
Of course, it isn't.
But Hughes (who I assume wrote the piece) somehow considers that stopping our planet from experiencing disastrous global warming which threatens the viability of civilization as we know it is less important than possibly preventing some oil train spills.
When comparing the safety and pollution records of pipelines versus trains, pipelines win. Oil trains are not only inherently more dangerous, but locomotives are huge polluters.
Thus even though leading climate scientists say that it is imperative to leave most of the world's fossil fuels in the ground to prevent harmful warming beyond 2 degrees centigrade -- especially the Canadian tar sands that would be the source of the pipeline's oil -- our local newspaper believes otherwise.
Vast amounts of oil in the Middle East, coal in the US, Australia and China and many other fossil fuel reserves will have to be left in the ground to prevent dangerous climate change, according to the first analysis to identify which existing reserves cannot be burned.
...The study’s conclusion on the exploitation of Canada’s oil sands is blunt, finding production must fall to “negligible” levels after 2020 if the 2C scenario is to be fulfilled.
That's the biggest nonsensical UGH! in Hughes' editorial. Like so many other Statesman Journal editorials, it is impossible to follow the logic and evidence that leads to opinionated conclusions.
Why? Because the newspaper starts with a conclusion and conjures up ridiculous reasons to support the pre-determined end point.
A secondary ugh! is the absurd reasoning about "induced demand," a generally recognized planning principle. Building more roads and bridges typically leads to more congestion, not less, because people drive more.
Conversely, Oregon's pioneering land use system has shown that when urban growth boundaries constrain sprawl, more people bike, walk, and use mass transit rather than cars. More compact cities make this possible.
So Hughes is just making stuff up when he writes:
It's like fighting the Columbia and Salem river crossing projects to reduce society's dependence on vehicles. The traffic congestion doesn't go away. Rather, commercial and personal vehicles produce more pollution while idling in traffic.
He really needs to get out more. Even in virtual reality.
Do some Googling of Portland's transportation trends, Dick. Learn how commuting by bicycle and mass transit has increased after the city prioritized alternative modes of transportation.
Though I didn't enjoy this editorial, I did like many of the reader comments left on the piece. Including mine, of course. I'll share some below.
NO 3rd Bridge
This is a mischaracterization of why most of us are fighting the 3rd Bridge.
We are fighting it because it DOESN'T solve the congestion problem in downtown Salem to build a 3/4 mile long bridge through an earthquake liquefaction zone a mile north of downtown. Downtown commuters won't go miles out of their way to avoid the traffic.
We are fighting because, including debt service, the bridge project would end up costing nearly $1 billion over 20 years and requiring tolling the Marion and Center Street bridges, a local gas tax, a vehicle registration surcharge and a property tax increase in Salem.
We are fighting because the idiotic fixation on a 3rd bridge by a handful of elected officials is distracting us from maintaining the two bridges we already have and working with ODOT to retrofit them so they won't collapse in the next Cascadia megaquake which could come at any time.
When is the SJ going to wise up and realize that the 3rd Bridge is a terrible idea that is destined to fail? The only question is how much longer we will waste millions in discretionary regional transportation funds to plan something that will never materialize.
Think China with their air pollution - so bad they are working to switch to alternative methods to gas/oil as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, they're happy to burn the fossil fuels we provide, which pollutes our water as it leaves the ground, and our air as it returns after they burn it.
Think about your tax dollar being spent to study the 3rd bridge, a bridge that is not being built to withstand the expected mega-thrust earthquake. It'll collapse along with the two existing bridges which are not scheduled for seismic upgrading for another 40 years.
Think about the studies which show that while population is increasing, fewer vehicles are on the road. Ask yourself why billionaires who own these gigantic companies need to make one penny more knowing their companies are killing us, and our planet.
Unfortunately, not enough people know the facts, or they'd be driving less already. They'd be riding bicycles and they'd be begging for better bus service, They'd be promoting "leave it in the ground".
Which is, the Earth is warming at a dangerously rapid rate; humans are primarily responsible for this due to greenhouse gas emissions; something needs to be done about global warming to preserve the habitability of the planet for human civilization as we know it.
If you do accept this, editorializing in favor of the KXL pipeline is absurd. Leaving most fossil fuels in the ground is essential if a disastrous degree of global warming is to be averted.
Such is the highly persuasive conclusion of a study reported in the journal, Nature, recently. See:
Thus either the Statesman Journal has an indefensible position on global warming -- we accept this is happening, but humanity shouldn't do anything about it -- or climate change deniers inhabit the SJ editorial board.
Please tell us which is true.
Does the Statesman Journal deny the reality of global warming, or do you deny the necessity of dealing with it? One or the other seemingly is true, since you have come out in favor of burning as much of the Earth's remaining in-ground fossil fuels as possible, which will lead to disastrous effects.