Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Save the Trees

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Save the Trees

During her mayoralty, Allison Silberberg made improving the city's tree canopy a priority. Thousands of trees were planted, helping alleviate density's destructive environmental effects. Now, city hall myopically wants to compromise the tree canopy to reconfigure Taylor, Strawberry, and Lucky Runs to obtain Chesapeake Bay environmental credits and free money (Virginia DEQ matching grants).

City hall's justification for bulldozing this pristine parkland is based not on actual on-site data, which shows trivial levels of pollutants to be mitigated, but from some obtuse modelling exercise based on farmland in Pennsylvania. It is not that city hall shouldn't or doesn't know this is inappropriate -- instead, city hall and its environmental regulator collaborators and the interests profiting from these government contracts need to rely on these obtuse data manipulations to justify all the grant money and environmental credits being wheeled around. Recall former Energy Secretary and Texas governor Rick Perry’s quip about scientists “manipulating large amounts of data to keep money flowing into their projects” as a put-down of global warming. Similarly, large amounts of data are run through an obtuse modelling exercise to justify spending large amounts of money on these counter-intuitive “stream restoration” projects.

The fossil fuel industry is quietly watching these developments because, as soon as they happen, their lobbyists and public relations agencies can try drawing a Rick Perry-style “manipulating large amounts of data” parallel to scientists' global warming warnings, believing the average person might more easily understand the straight-forward example of absurd counter-intuitive data manipulation to justify bulldozing pristine parkland under the rubric of “stream restoration” as analogous to the sort of data manipulation climate scientists use for their global warming warnings. Rhetoricians might call this tactic, “discrediting by analogy.”

Dino Drudi