EDITORIAL – Save the planet, lose the support of the people

We direct readers’ attention to the entertaining and enlightening column by George F. Will, at right, that describes the absurdities that arise when the administrative government runs amok.

He outlines a case in which a group of landowners challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s attempt to designate 1,544 acres of private land as “critical habitat” for the tiny, endangered “dusky gopher frog” – despite, as Mr. Will writes: “(1) no such frog has inhabited them for half a century, and (2) none could live long there unless the land were substantially modified … and (3) the loss of the acres could cost the owners $34 million in lost timber farming and development opportunities.”

The governmental overreach was so obvious, and so extreme, that the habitually divided U.S. Supreme Court rejected unanimously the agency’s arguments that “critical habitat” need not be “habitable” – and more broadly, and more dangerously, that judicial bodies ought to demonstrate deference to agencies’ interpretations of their legislative mandates.

According to Mr. Will’s column, “This idea is the crux of progressivism’s case for allowing the administrative state to boss us around without judicial review of its bossiness: This state’s agencies say they possess detailed expertise beyond Congress’s ken, and courts should bow before the agencies’ disinterested wisdom when construing Congress’s legislative instructions, however much the instructions’ ambiguities leave the agencies with vast discretion.”

Around the world, bodies politic are growing increasingly exasperated with the hubris of bureaucratic “experts” who not only believe that they “know better,” but also that their decisions, and decision-making processes, are beyond reproach, criticism or scrutiny, particularly by those whom Victorian writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton dubbed “The Great Unwashed.”

The assumption of infallibility and the profound disconnect in priorities between the “elite” and the “everyman” is acutely prevalent in the arena of environmental activism.

Intrinsically, the “natural” opponents to environmental interests (trees, whales, frogs) are human interests (development, jobs, opportunities). Sometimes they align – more often than not there is conflict. What has become problematic in recent decades is not the conflict itself, but the invention of a false equivalency between the “two sides” and the presupposition that human progress must stand aside for – not only mountain gorillas and rainforests – but also for dusky gopher frogs, hazy climate projections and inanimate beach rocks.

Consider France, where President Emmanuel Macron’s tax hikes on already expensive gasoline and diesel fuel (in the name of “clean energy” and “climate change”) ignited widespread, violent and deadly protests by tens of thousands of economically frustrated Frenchmen and Frenchwomen, who are far more concerned with feeding their children at the end of the month than making costly but largely symbolic investments based on future global temperature estimates.

One “Yellow Vest” protestor, interviewed in the New York Times, summed up his sentiments about France’s elected officials thusly: “Their response has poisoned the situation even more. The citizens have asked for lower taxes, and they’re saying, ‘Ecology.’”

The public demonstrations proved too much even for the obstinate President Macron, who this week capitulated, walking back the ill-conceived and ill-received policy decision that may still doom his presidency.

Here in the Cayman Islands, we have our own homegrown class of environmentalists who selectively obsess over even minor “modifications” to the landscape or seascape to facilitate development. From the opposition to the George Town cruise piers (“Save the Coral!”), to the stymieing of a planned luxury hotel by Dart on Seven Mile Beach (“Save the Beach Rocks!”), to challenges to the Rum Point Club (“Don’t Move Those Rocks!), and protests over Dart’s plans for the Barkers area (“Don’t Do … well … Anything!”) – when our elected leaders are confronted with hues and cries from the ultra-conservationist segment of our society, they would do well to remember that rocks do not pay rent.

To reference a wonted saying of Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush, you cannot live on mango steak and seagrass pie.

3 COMMENTS

  1. “…who selectively obsess over even minor “modifications” to the landscape or seascape to facilitate development…”

    A lot of these developments you mentioned are not “minor” by any means. They are massive projects that either have or will alter the local ecosystem. The question is, when do we say enough is enough? Do we want to development every square inch of the island? Or do we want to limit growth for a more sustainable future? I’m not an economist, but there are certainly opportunity costs involved when we start bulldozing our very limited natural spaces.

  2. “Minor ‘modifications'” is an understatement in regards to some of the projects being pushed in the name of the economy.
    Also, recently collected data highlights that stay-over tourists bring way more money into the economy, for both locals and big businesses. Don’t you think these visitors will find a different Caribbean island to holiday on if our island becomes a collection of eroding beaches, turtle-less waters, and un-diveable conditions?

  3. Sorry didn’t make one cent from stayover tourist in 20 years. I did 21 years ago when I had 3 hotels doing tours around the island. Gave hotel staff commission for each group of 2 people. Then a recession, wow big loss. But went to town and made money from cruise ships. Changed my life. I starting working in tourism since 1972. 25% of my salary came from Galleon Beach hotel. How about you? Have any of you worked at any hotels in Cayman? Years ago we made more money working at the hotels but not now. Why? Cheap labor and work permits. In fact, if you ask you will find many taxies started working in hotels.
    If there were so much money in hotels why didn’t they stay? It’s a lot of stress working in the transportation business. Don’t think so? Try it. In fact, have you worked in the taxi or Bus business? It is unbelievable how different businesses or Insurance, Banking, medical think they are the only one with stress. Watch some youtube about UBER drivers in the states and see some of the fun stuff they go thru in a day. Everyone thinks they should have VIP or limousine service offered to them at cost. Sorry, it can’t work.
    The cruise ship piers will be one of the most valuable infrastructures waiting to be built for over 40 years. People have been going crazy about the environment as long as it doesn’t include my house on the canal or beach.
    That was our biggest mistake to make them feel so special that they were the ones only to use the beach. We should take it back because of the environment and all the canal front land and not allow any boats because it’s disturbing the turtle grass when they pass in low tide. What do you think? Can we now save the environment? You know there are a lot of countries around the world that would rather be poor and happy then go through some of this baloney. Be careful what you wish for you may get more stress then you bargained for. The world is changing and a second opinion is lifting its head worldwide.

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