Idealism vs. realism
An editorial, letter and three articles in the September 12 Morgan Messenger all touch the topic of idealism vs. realism. I would suggest that the editorial has it backwards. That goes, as well, for some of the thinking about recent Berkeley Springs flooding.
First, the editorial. Although large environmental groups “are happy to see the reports of cleaner air” coming from gas-powered electric plants, they ignore a behind-the-curtain reality that escape of methane during the fracking process, transport and storage has been shown to nearly cancel out the clean-burning affects of natural gas.
This is because methane is at least 20 times more destructive to the atmosphere than is carbon dioxide, the primary “offending” chemical used in all government comparison studies between coal and gas. Thus, while gas-powered plants put out half the carbon dioxide of coal-fired plants, infra-red satellite photos show huge methane plumes arising from the many fracking sites in West Virginia that are, of course, blown east to Berkeley Springs.
As far as the flooding goes, it is something that will occur again, and perhaps even worse, as our weather becomes more extreme and unpredictable. Yes, the flood control dams did work. Thank goodness for that. But, as I have argued over the years, we cannot continue to develop in flood plains – or even their buffer areas – with obstructions of all types, non-porous pavement and mowed grass right down to the creek banks.
I had already realized that the area just south of Widmyer Elementary School seemed to be most logical for remedial action along Warm Springs Run, but was completely surprised that a never-built project had once been suggested for that location. It would not have to be a very high dam if it just impounded water in an expanded wetland area behind the dam, with a measured-rate “key” cut into the structure to allow for slower release during storms such as that we just experienced.
Idealism is the belief that we can continue fracking and building wherever we want to without facing the reality of consequences. Regulations are idealistic and don’t actually work. Fracking needs to be banned, as does construction in realistic flood zones, not withstanding what we’ve been optimistically told by corporate-controlled government and its Corps of Engineers.
P.S. Kudos to Kate Lehman, Jim Michael and the Warm Springs Run Watershed Association.
John C. Webster