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ClimateWest Podcast: Reaching out from the Rhetoric

Listen to the first ClimateWest podcast by WildEarth Guardians Climate and Energy Program Director, Jeremy Nichols.  Click below:

It’s unfortunate.  Apparently an anti-environmental front group called the Western Colorado Jobs Alliance, which apparently was founded by Jon Anderson, an attorney at Holland and Hart in Denver, is running ads like the one below in western Colorado newspapers:

I don’t even know where to begin with this ad, except to say, really?  Making money by closing off forests?

The reality, though, is that this front group’s ad campaign isn’t about stoking robust discussion about facts or reality, it’s about scaring people with made up stories.  These ones are borderline comedy and could almost be mistaken as an Onion article.  Despite the outlandishness, they have prompted some calls.

But what’s really heartening about all this is that WildEarth Guardians has received more positive feedback from folks in western Colorado in response to these ads.  It seems like every time one of these ads runs, we get more positive e-mails and phone calls from folks telling us to keep it up.  We’ve even gotten a few new members out of this.  Take this little bit of encouragement I recently received from someone in Delta County:

I thought I’d send a message as well-KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! I don’t think for a minute that you are costing anyone any jobs, but you are obviously causing some wingnut discomfort, so in my book you must be doing something right.

But while you just have to shake your head at how low some attorneys can get, I say why not take advantage of the opportunity to reach out to folks.  Like the guy who called me today (the nice one).

Look, I’m not on a mission to convince everyone that I’m somehow right.  I’d just like to at least take the opportunity to try to convince some folks that I’m someone who cares about things just like they do.  We may disagree on the best way to protect our clean air, water, wildlife, or even disagree about our energy future, but can’t we at least put rhetoric aside for a minute and actually talk about how to solve problems?   The way I see it, at least we could have enough respect for each other as human beings that we could actually have a reasonable discussion.

We’ll see how things shake out.

In the meantime, this latest ad has to be one of the most confusing given that the timber industry in Colorado just got a massive break.  Several companies were recently allowed to simply walk away from unprofitable timber contracts with the Forest Service.  The reason?  The Forest Service wants to make it easier for them to log in Colorado.

Of course, this raises all sorts of questions–like is it smart to throw so much taxpayer money away for the timber industry, or will letting logging companies out of their contracts actually do anything to boost their bottomline, or will logging even have an impact on the beetle infestation in Colorado?  But these are questions for another blog altogether.

Suffice to say, I don’t think “radical environmentalists” are much of a problem for the timber industry or Colorado’s forests.

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