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In his recent column lamenting the loss of green areas in Los Alamos, Chick Keller urges us not to blame firefighters for destroying a canyon after fingering those same firefighters for setting the back burns that blackened it. Sadly, Keller’s apparent bitterness over the present state of Valle Canyon betrays an insincerity of sentiment toward the grim but necessary work of firefighters engaged in steering an inferno away from the heart of our community.
If we are to blame anyone for the continuing loss of green space here and elsewhere, we should blame ourselves. For the sake of sincerity, blame the recent trend of mega-fires on a culture that values convenience over conservation. Blame it on a culture here and elsewhere that insists on creating twice-daily streams of one-passenger vehicles to work and back home again, on a culture that values our bus system more as a summer babysitting service and less as a transportation option. Blame those who are too stubborn to admit that they are witnessing changes to the climate during their short lifespans, or those who have convinced themselves that merely owning a Prius is enough to address those changes.
Blame the changes we are seeing in our local ecosystems on a culture that will gladly carve a copper-mine-sized scar into a cliff at the edge of town so we can move our single grocery store across the street. Blame a culture that applauds as progress the uprooting of vast green areas for housing developments that block viewsheds and alter canyon drainage patterns, on one that embraces sprawl over reuse and redevelopment, on a culture that appreciates the retina display of a “Smart” phone more than the sights, sounds and smells of the natural world.
Blame our dwindling natural resources on a culture of instant gratification, on one obsessed with pursuing pop-culture fables born of marketing focus groups and “reality TV” shows.
Blame these things on an electorate that holds the power, yet lacks the will, to overturn a corrupt system of government set up to reward the financiers of the political victors, often to the detriment of the masses and the natural world. But please don’t blame it on the firefighters.
This election cycle, we voters in Los Alamos are faced with candidates who hold very different views of what “progress” means.
It’s a pretty sure bet that electing realtors and developers to the Los Alamos County Council will sustain the pernicious whittling away of our community’s dwindling remaining green spaces to make way for economic-development pipe dreams sold to the gullible by smooth talking locusts and flim-flam artists.
Should we choose to place our future in the hands of the land-rapists and the profiteers, we will continue to experience loss and bitterness, and continue to find opportunities to speciously blame convenient scapegoats instead of recognizing the true root causes.