If you never needed confirmation that environmentalism is more about moral preening and self-congratulation than it is about the environment, look no further than Seattle. The New York Times reports today that Seattle is up in arms about a plan by Royal Dutch Shell to bring two offshore oil drilling rigs into Seattle harbor.
Now I can certainly sympathize with Seattleites who don’t want to see oil drilling going on in the heart of Puget Sound . . . wait, what? They’re not actually bringing the rigs in to drill for oil there? They just want to park them at the dock for repairs?
As Kirk Johnson reports in the Times story:
“You have signed a lease that will amount to a crime against the planet,” said Zarna Joshi, 32, a Seattle resident who was first to speak at a raucous three-hour public meeting this week before the port’s commissioners. The meeting was packed mostly with opponents and punctuated by the occasional dissenter, pointing out the hypocrisy of protesters who had arrived to denounce Shell in vehicles running on gasoline.
Good for Johnson (who has written some of the better environmental stories in the Times over the years) for bringing up the obvious silliness of this complaint. More on this in a moment.
At the center of the dispute lies a tangle of questions about the politics of climate change. Since Shell will not be drilling or exploring for oil anywhere near Seattle, but merely parking for the night, so to speak, can or should the company be denied a berth because of what might or might not happen thousands of miles away off the north coast of Alaska, or what could take place years in the future if burning fossil fuels — maybe produced by Shell, maybe not — raises sea levels or causes other havoc? Lawyers for the port, in court filings, have said opponents are waging an “intense” political campaign that will falter on the rocks of a narrow contractual dispute.
Opponents of the contract, though, said that protecting Seattle’s environment, in the broadest sense, means taking on the fight everywhere. Whether there may be harm from greenhouse gases, or possible environmental damage from an oil spill or other accident in Alaska, to which Seattle is deeply connected in its economy and history, what Shell does in the Arctic, they say, will not stay there.
Of course, if Seattleites were serious about protecting the environment from fossil fuels, they should close down the whole port of Seattle (perhaps greenie Seattleites think all their precious fair trade coffee and fancy Chinese-made iPhones are brought in on ships that sail the seas in 19th century rigging for wind power only?), and certainly they must stop Boeing from making any more airplanes, which have enormous carbon footprints.
Clearly what causes green rage among Seattleites is the fact that the large offshore rigs—“one more than 320 feet tall and the other more than 500 feet long,” according to the Times story—are visible symbols of the hypocrisy and guilt of environmentalists, like waiving a whiskey bottle in front of an alcoholic the morning after a bender. But if it’s the sheer size of the offshore rigs, along with the risks of oil spills from ocean drilling, that’s really on their mind, we could drill onshore in Alaska instead, in the oil-rich Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. Problem solved. No more oil rigs in Seattle harbor. Cue outrage in three, two . . .
So we’re happy to give out one of our coveted Green Weenies to the entire city of Seattle. It’s a soybean-based product, raised by solar power, and transported to the Emerald City by a-fed mule team.