Take a Walk on the Wild Side By JIM DOHERTY
Call it the grizzly test. Require all would-be developers to take it. If you want to drill for oil in the refuge, first you have to spend a couple of weeks roughing it there. No guns, no phones, no guides. Just you and the bears. Let them look into your heart. If they’re reassured by what they see, you pass; if they feel threatened, well, according to Ave Thayer, there are worse ways to go.
Those who survive the grizzly test earn the right to submit their drilling proposals to Congress. But who knows? Perhaps a solitary stint in the refuge is enough to make even the most avaricious developers think twice. Once they’ve discovered for themselves how magnificent the refuge is; once they’ve watched caribou lope across the tundra, listened to wolves howl, beheld the mesmerizing effects of light and shadow on limestone mountains riddled with caves and turreted with hoodoos – once, in short, they understand why so many folks consider the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge sacred ground, they might undergo a change of heart and decide to leave it the way it is. Which is to say, undisturbed.
Jim Doherty is a former editor at Smithsonian magazine.
Here we see the classic Liberal weakness: those we disagree with can be persuaded by the same things that persuade us (while they call us enemies and dismiss us with contempt — no interest in converting us). My bet: someone who is pro-drilling would come back from the Arctic wanting a condo on the spot; let’s build roads, drill and develop. Understand, I’m not saying Liberals and Conservatives can’t agree on defending ANWR (another Liberal weakness is the need to clarify and refine a point — the worst Conservatives despise that). It’s developers vs the rest of us, but Conservatives leave business free to do anything while fixating on social groups they can’t stand. Conservatives used to believe in “live and let live.” They’ve assumed power through “live as we do.” mjh
PS – similarly, I regret one of the arguments used for preserving Otero Mesa: a big, big aquifer. Just wait: that argument will be thrown back in our faces in support of gated communities; Otero will be surrounded by development and sucked dry. Preserve Otero because we need to preserve something.