, Newburyport, MA

November 18, 2013

A curse on both their houseboats

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

While doubtful that one needs to address civil war in Syria in order to say anything about the Merrimack River’s floodplains, I’m willing to satisfy the complaint of a Nov. 1 letter that I’ve been “ignoring” six such issues:

1 — Admitting they were “duped,” “60 Minutes” just retracted their Benghazi story, long trumpeted by Fox News and the Tea Party.

2 — Diplomacy has thus far kept U.S. troops out of Syria.

3 — The IRS collects revenues needed for roads, bridges, airports and other things that make business possible. (Ya, you built it, but with a lot of public help.)

4 — The Justice Department under Cheney/Bush concocted “Fast and Furious,” an idea ill-advisedly continued by Obama.

5 — The Affordable Care Act, despite a few initial procedural bugs, is working quite well in places as Republican as Kentucky where they have accepted rather than obstructed it, making insurance accessible to millions who went without it.

6 — The recent “pile of evidence” that “debunks (my) religion” is the work of Dr. Willie Soon, an astrophysicist heavily financed by the coal and gas industries since 2001 for the specific purpose of contradicting the work of independent scientists all over the world — creating public doubt about the now obvious consequences of global warming.

I’ve written little or nothing about the first five lately because all views appear well expressed. But about rising sea levels:

It’s easy to understand why Mayor Holaday, the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority and the absurdly named “Forward Newburyport” dismiss and, when possible, ignore that the waterfront is a floodplain.

But how to explain the unwillingness of the Committee for an Open Waterfront to make this point?

Do they think that, in 21st century America, arguments based on aesthetics and “natural beauty” stand a chance against the promises of enhanced economy?

Do they think that the public cannot or will not handle an environmental case— that we won’t make the link to what rising sea levels have already done to New Orleans, Staten Island and Plum Island?

Do they realize that the NRA — because it ignores the floodplain — can offer all kinds of aesthetically beautiful sketches of development on a waterfront?

COW’s arguments play right into NRA hands. They couldn’t defeat their own purpose any more thoroughly if they tried.

Pains me to say this because I’m all for their cause, but unless they change their script, COW might as well be an anagram for a Shakespearean farce: Comedy Of Whatever.

Jack Garvey

Plum Island