For instance from this morning's paper:
Story1: Study:Pollution endangers kids
*gasp* Oh No! Little Timmy is in danger! But wait. If you actually read the article you see that The report does not show a direct impact from the pollution on children's health. Eh?? So what's the point to the article? Well if we keep reading we learn that the coordinator of the study feels that ".. we're marking it clear that the extraordinary level of toxic pollution released in proximity to where children go to school shows a clear risk that cannot be refuted" Oh. I wasn't aware that we normally need to refute a risk (btw, exactly how much is an "extraordinary" level of toxic pollution? What is an "ordinary" level?) Almost everything that we do in our daily lives carries with it a risk. Normally, scientists try to prove that a "risk" correlates to actual danger. Until you have some actual results there is no way to determine if there is a 1:10, 1:100, or 1:1,000,000 chance of something happening. If a study can't prove that something bad is happening, then it's useless to say that there is a risk because we don't know how much of a risk there is. Until a real scientific study is performed, we can't know if the risk is marginal, or if it's so great that those evil refineries should be shut down immediately. The only thing that this "study" (and I use the term loosely) does is advance a political agenda and instill fear in people. Next thing you know, parents will be sending their kids to school with respirators even though no one has shown that anything bad has happened or that the risk of illness from the "extraordinary levels of toxic pollution" is any greater than the risk of getting skin cancer from walking to school. There is a "risk" that the Earth could be struck by a giant asteroid, but until we have some definite idea of just how much risk there is, worrying about it isn't really all that productive.
Another thing that comes to mind is that this study didn't even take into account the fact that El Paso is adjacent to a major city in another country with much looser (at times almost non-existent) environmental controls. Several of the schools listed in that report are about as close (sometimes even closer) to Mexico than they are to any refinery in the city. Did the people doing this "study" ever spend a winter morning in El Paso to see the haze that spreads into town from Juarez? Did they ever see people burning tires and anything else they could get their hands on in order to stay warm in December? All that anyone has to do is go to UTEP and look across the river to see where a good amount of pollution comes from. Clearly refineries and big industry to need to be held to high standards of responsibility, but scaring people about things that they can't really affect or about things that haven't even been proven is really quite despicable. Good way to sell papers guys.
Story 2: Raise Water Rates, City Council Says
Heh, why am I not surprised that our wonderful City Council would do something this boneheaded? Look guys, I want to keep taking daily showers and washing my clothes without having to take out a loan. If I can only water for 2 hours, I'll deal, when it comes to deciding between a shower and a lush green lawn, the shower wins. Considering how many options there are for recycling water and whatnot, I'm astonished at how stupid the City Council was. Look people, we live in a fucking desert. Live with it or move. I was a bit grumpy about only being able to water once a week for 2 hours, but now I'm downright disgusted with all the nimrods who came out of the woodwork squawking about their stupid lawns. It's fucking grass people, get over it most of you see it for all of 1 minute from the time you get out of your air-conditioned car and into your air-conditioned house to watch the newest reality TV show, Who Wants Survive Being Married to Joe Millionaire on an Island.
What's funny is that when I heard about the proposed water restrictions, I asked my dad about what options there were for recycling water and he told me of about half a dozen options that could help quite a bit. You can use water from your bath/shower, washing machine, and bathroom sinks. It takes some extra plumbing work, but it's not rocket science to do. Really the only water you can't safely re-use is from the toilets, dishwashers, and the kitchen sink. I would be willing to bet that if apartment complexes re-used the water from their on-site washing facilities etc... they could probably do a fine job of watering their lawns without sucking up millions of gallons of water.
Another really bizarre aspect to all this is that we aren't the only desert city out there. You have most of Arizona and large chunks of New Mexico and Nevada, where people are intelligent enough to understand that if you have 100 units of water and you need 30 units to do normal household activities, 35 units to drink and 80 units for watering your lawn, something has to give (30+35+80>100 => trouble). To be honest, I would be happy with a small lawn, green public parks, and plenty of water to drink. I think it's bordering on obscene how some people just don't appreciate that we don't have an infinite supply of resources.
There are some very cool things about living out here, but intelligent civic debate and discussions are not high up on that list. I can understand being unhappy about a drought situation, but I can't conceive of how anyone can be so utterly fucking stupid as to not be able to deal with it. We have grown-ups here whining because it's not "fair" that they won't be able to have 4 acres of lush green lawn around their palatial estates. I'd like to take those palaces and shove them up into some of their orifices.
Ok, I'm going to go do something productive now.