Here is another interesting fact put forward by Michael Crichton:
"I conclude that most environmental 'principles' (such as sustainable development or the precautionary principle) have the effect of preserving the economic advantages of the West and thus constitute modern imperialism toward the developing world. It is a nice way of saying, 'We got ours and we don't want you to get yours, because you'll cause too much pollution.'"
It is an interesting comment given that the largest complaint made against affordable housing in Santa Barbara is that it would degrade the environment. That is a consistent argument made by the editorials in the Santa Barbara News Press.
Two pieces strike me. First off, this kind of thinking places all of the responsibility on caring for the environment on those with the least ability to care and who currently have the least power to change things. It also removes responsibility from those who both have power and are doing the damage. Let me give one example... we have water issues in Santa Barbara and often one hears that our water availability makes it impossible to add more people to the area. A quick drive through any neighborhood shows almost every house has a green lawn, requiring huge amounts of water for that non-native green grass. And we have some beautiful golf courses overlooking the ocean... Before we exclude the people who work here from living here, perhaps we should do away with all of the green lawns that waste tremendous amounts of water. Or shut down the golf courses?!? The News Press doesn't advocate changing the way water is used by the current property owners, only keeping the middle class out because they would cause environmental damage!?!?
The second piece is... imagination, or lack thereof. It seems to me that as a culture we suffer from a terrible lack of imagination. That lack gets us into all kinds of trouble and it certainly applies here. If the leaders in SB could imagine both the pain of those excluded and possible ways to meet the need without destroying the community we might be on our way. If the NIMBY crowd could imagine anything other than a community that doesn't exist anymore or their own greed, they would be looking for other possibilities for solving the problem.