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Posts Tagged ‘trees’

That’s the New York Times’ novel editorial spin on the ‘war’ between owners of a domestic solar power system in Sunnyvale, California, and their immediate neighbors, who owned redwood trees that had grown to shade the solar panels.

The dispute, which we noted last week, is evidence of the Golden State’s leadership in all things environmental, says the Times. It goes on:

Obviously, there will be costs associated with all this virtue, and for some — like the Sunnyvale couples — there will be shoving and pushing. Given the alternative of a less hospitable globe, these seem to be small sacrifices.

That’s certainly preferable to seeing the dispute as evidence of a laughable green hypocrisy — which the Christian Science Monitor tells us, it isn’t!

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Actions that could help the environment don’t just regularly lose out to actions demanded by people with competing agendas. There’s plenty of potential for conflict within the environmental movement itself.

Take the case of the neighbors in Sunnyvale, California that pitted a family generating solar power in their backyard against the family living behind them, who wanted to grow redwood trees. Before long the trees, which were planted first, were shading the solar panels. The panel owners asked the tree owners to cut their trees, which they refused to do. The two sides went to court and only now, some seven years later, is there a resolution — which sees some of the trees being cut by court order.

Both families drive electric or hybrid cars. Both see themselves as environmentally-conscious. Yet, neither could agree on a compromise. That’s delighted pundits all over the country — seeing this as a classic case of green hypocrisy.

In the version of the story referenced above, the Christian Science Monitor takes a more insightful line.

“The truth lies more in shades of gray than chlorophyll green,” suggests writer Douglas Fox. Neither family are what detractors could describe as hardcore environmentalists. One family owns several SUVs along with their electric car.

That, he argues, reflects:

“a broader public appetite not for energy-saving habits, but for technical fixes: ethanol, solar, fuel cells, and hybrid autos that sometimes consume as much gas as many nonhybrids. You might call it the low-fat cheesecake approach to carbon dieting.”

While, as Fox says, it’s wrong to conclude from this story that “there is an inevitable conflict between trees and solar power” — mostly because most trees don’t grow as fast and tall as redwoods — we are likely to see more conflicts arising from competing environmental interests.

Bird lovers decry the impact of wind turbines, after all, (though not everyone believes it’s such a problem). Biofuels have many detractors. Nuclear power is a salvation to some environmentalists and an evil to many others.

The challenge for environmentalists, then, will be to help resolve these conflicts quickly, so that they don’t become an excuse to prevaricate on environmentally-beneficial action any longer.

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