In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, villains twist the English language to make the public believe that lies are truth and wrong is right. “War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, and Ignorance Is Strength” are their slogans.

Unfortunately, this kind of cynical doublespeak isn’t confined to the world of fiction. In real life, we’re seeing it more and more in the form of greenwashing — companies claiming that actions that harm the environment are actually green and sustainable.

One of the most egregious local examples of this is the arguments made recently by supporters of a proposed mine at Juristac in Santa Clara County.

Juristac (also known as Sargent Ranch) is a critical wildlife corridor and habitat area located south of Gilroy. The Debt Acquisition Company of America, which owns the land, has applied for a permit to dig an open-pit sand and gravel mine on 400-plus pristine acres there. The mine would destroy rolling hillsides, sycamore riparian woodlands, serpentine grassland, freshwater wetlands and unique natural tar seeps. It would exacerbate climate change by producing 7,400 metric tons of CO2 equivalents annually, destroy one of the last remaining routes for wildlife to migrate in and out of the Santa Cruz Mountains, generate hundreds of truck trips a day on Highway 101, and deplete our local aquifers by pumping 86,000 gallons of groundwater daily for quarry operations.

The mine would be an ecological disaster, which is why it’s opposed by every local environmental nonprofit and grassroots climate group. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, to whom Juristac is sacred, has made repeated public pleas to save the land.

County residents have submitted thousands of comments to the Santa Clara County Planning Commission asking to put a stop to the mining project.

The cities of Gilroy, Santa Clara, Morgan Hill, Sunnyvale and Santa Cruz have all passed resolutions calling on the county to deny mining operation permits. State officials, faith-based leaders, scholars and community organizations have all signed on as supporters of the movement to protect Juristac and stop the mine.

Supporters of the mine, sensing that public opinion is against them, have started claiming that the mine would somehow be good for the environment. They argue that supplying sand locally is better than importing it, without mentioning that construction-grade sand is already being mined locally and is readily available from other Bay Area companies, including several companies that sell recycled sand — a much more sustainable option than mining new materials.

As a member of a local organization dedicated to fighting climate change, I’m dismayed by the mine supporters’ attempt to co-opt the language of the climate movement and use it against us. They use terms like “responsible stewardship” and “we owe it to our kids and grandkids” and claim they’re only thinking of what’s best for future generations. Don’t be fooled by their doublespeak and their greenwashing. Destroying this biologically diverse and culturally significant site does not benefit anyone but developers.

As the reality of climate change becomes more widely accepted and public support increases for measures to preserve a livable climate, it’s perhaps not surprising that those whose only motive is profit will try to jump on the climate bandwagon. Expect to see more outrageous claims about environmentally destructive, for-profit ventures being made in the name of sustainability and climate action. Don’t be fooled.

Cheryl Weiden is a member of the 350 Silicon Valley Steering Committee.


Source link


Comments are closed.