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Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Squirrels Don't Want Solar!

There was a piece in the New York Times this morning: “A Houston Refuge for a Hurricane’s Tiny Victims.”

A heartwarming story about children being taken care of in the wake of hurricane Ike?

Not quite: “Residents are finding tiny refugees in the leafy debris left behind by Hurricane Ike: baby squirrels. More than 1,000 of them, some less than three inches long, have been brought to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has set up the equivalent of a squirrel neonatal unit.”

So. . . let me get this straight.

We can’t care for the HUMANS in New Orleans.

But “Volunteers, who have come from as far away as Los Angeles and Minneapolis to care for animals displaced by the hurricane, sit around a table drawing formula into nipple-tipped syringes, which allow them to deliver a small stream of liquid into the baby squirrels’ mouths.”

Earlier this week, the Times noted, in “Solar Projects Draw New Opposition,” that one obstacle to industrial scale solar facilities in the California desert is—wait for it—opposition by the defenders of the Mojave ground squirrel.

They’re defending more than that, of course—there’s a tortoise and an owl involved as well, a veritable Aesop’s fable worth of endangered species, and the fierce desert dweller’s “why can’t you just leave us alone?”

I’m a little more sympathetic to endangered exotic squirrels than I am to backyard rat variety squirrels. But all of this is more than mildly insane.

I *think* it was New York mayor Ed Koch who came up with the acronym NIMBY (Not in My Backyard!) to describe the problem of where to site important but unpopular facilities. The new acronym—from I know not where—is BANANA (Build Almost Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone).

I get why you would not want a coal company to take off the mountain top next door. I understand why you wouldn’t want an oil refinery on your block. I am less sympathetic to the idea that people don’t want windmills spoiling their view. I can see the need to protect desert habitat, but if we don’t take radical action, and soon, we’re going to have a lot more desert habitat than we know what to do with.

If we maintain this “no one wants to give up anything” attitude, everyone’s going to lose everything.

And then who will take care of the baby squirrels?