Author Topic: Why does Environmental Activism make some people act irrationally?  (Read 98 times)

Doug K

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Why does Environmental Activism make some people act irrationally?

This is the most perplexing question the Erie Canal Neighbors Association has yet been able to answer after more than two years. To be exact it’s been two years, six months, and twenty-nine days since a small group of Pittsford & Perinton residents formed a group on Facebook called Stop the Canal Clear-cut (STCC).

That group’s sole mission was supposedly “environmental” in nature, but has slowly turned into individuals whining  about loss of shade on the Empire Trail and how much the group distains the new owners of the NYS Canal Corporation, NYPA, or New York Power Authority. The group has zero credible data to support their claims that “nothing is wrong with the canal embankments”

In 2017 NYPA inherited a Canal System with one hundred twenty miles of “unsafe, unmaintained & uninspected Earthen Embankment Dams. When they offered to take the NYSCC from the prior owner, NYS Thruway Authority, they knew this work had to be done and were up to the challenge. All of these “raised, water-impounding” embankments would need clearing, across New York State.

So they announced the work of clearing dams, which meant TREES would be removed, as it was the TREES causing the problems with Public Safety he sustainability of the Erie Canal. They were very clear, the canal system was a danger, and they needed to fix it by “controlling vegetation”.
They started with a Dam Restoration Project, which has evolved now into an Embankment Integrity Program for Canal Safety.

You can read about that work here:

Well, that was it, the NYSCC had mentioned TREE removal which brought out everyone and anyone who ever wanted to “Save a Whale” to a new environmental cause, and it was time to save trees. The Canal Corporation was accused of “clear-cutting” the embankments for profit at first. Then the reasons for tree removal were questioned next, some citing that the canal hadn’t broken from any tree related issues ever. The STCC group convinced 3 towns to bring an Environmental Concern to Court to stop the “tragedy” that would occur if trees were removed.

Somehow the only thing this STCC group really managed to do, was to lie convincingly to the public about the safety issue. They flatly deny it ever existed and still do to this day believe “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.

So the question here is why do rational people get so perplexed when the truth is contrary to their own beliefs. Saving trees on Embankment Dams is UNHEARD of in the Earthen Dam Safety world. Yet this group, when confronted with that truth, simply chose to ignore it.

They didn’t want to believe the TREES they wanted to hug, could be potential deadly killers of a community.

They suddenly acted contrary to human nature, which says “safety is good”, and instead the group’s leadership acted contrary to rational thinking, they decided to fight against a Public Safety project on the Erie Canal that they knew was fixing dams, but would share their group.

Think of removing trees from Embankment Dams as an insurance policy, against a potential flood. While earthquakes and terror plots could take out an earthen dam quite easily, the NEXT probable cause is Embankment Failure due to improper vegetation. Having trees on dams where only GRASS is allowed is a recipe for disaster. Trees cause leaks, or the technical term “piping” which creates water flow on earthen dams where it is not wanted, and can cause a slip of the entire dam slope if not corrected. That has all been documented here on our website

So do these STCC people also think they don’t need Car Insurance because they didn’t have an accident last month? Probably not, as most people are all over insured. We get Life Insurance because we might die too young. We get Health Insurance in case the thing that made us die to young was caused by a medical issue. We get Long-Term Care Insurance in case the medical issue our Health Insurance paid for causes us to need rehab care to recover. The list goes on… Homeowners Insurance, Dental, Travel, Pet.

Do those who subscribe to this STCC philosophy not buy Homeowners Insurance because their house didn’t catch fire yesterday or have someone trip on their front steps last week?

We, as humans, do tend to worry ourselves to the point of poverty, trying to insure against anything that might happen in our lives, well some of us perhaps. But for an “environmental” group to take a stand that the Canal System is “just fine the way it is” is almost impossible to comprehend given the single fact that the OWNERS & CARETAKERS of the NYS Canal System have stated it is unsafe, needs repair, and they are prepared to do just that.

What could be worse for the environment than a flood?

So back to the original question: Why does Environmental Activism make some people act irrationally?

We all know everyone loves trees, but Erie Canal Neighbors deserve to feel SAFE in their own homes. They also do NOT deserve to have UNSAFE embankments in their backyards or neighborhoods. They should not have to worry if the Canal Corporation will knock on their door and say they need to buy Flood Insurance. There’s should be a point where SAFETY matters more than SHADE… well at least for rational people.

While it may be very easy for some users of the Empire Trail (who believe they are environmentalist) to point at the trees along the trail and say they should stay.

The real issue is that those trees also block this groups LEADERS from seeing the actual condition of the embankment and the NEIGHBORS living BELOW those embankments who are in danger EVERY day from that unsafe Erie Canal dam.

But the STCC membership really doesn’t care about any of this, they are going to “hug those trees” even if it could mean their neighbors suffer or their Towns & Villages flood.

After all, they are doing it in the name of the “environment”.