Friday, June 21, 2013

Why We Can't Have a Productive Dialogue

Here is the transcript of an email exchange in response to my post on the NorthHills open forum.

This as  perfect example of why we cannot have a productive dialogue.

Here are new photos of the Summit House Trail through the clear-cut, pesticide drenched desert, left behind after the eucalypti are removed.

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Bob Strayer

I just finished publishing the photos I took of the trees along the Big Springs/Quarry trail, across from the golf course.

http://ccfirestorm.blogspot.com/2013/06/lower-big-springs-quarry-trail.html
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Remsen Belvedere

Since there's so much call for a return to the native species of the hills, I thought it would be nice to see pictures of what that would look like. Here's a pic I found online of the hills from Skyline looking towards the bay, circa the 1920s. 

http://cdn.calisphere.org/data/13030/sq/kt696nd2sq/files/kt696nd2sq-d3e14920.jpg

 Anyone want to tell me how many of the native houses that they see in the hills?

 I see some eucs, but I can't seem to see any houses. I really wonder why anyone thinks that there is something magic about a partial return to a "natural" landscape when the most flammable, fuel-intensive objects around (the houses) are going to be allowed to remain.

 I think we should just cut down all of the trees. Houses don't burn without trees, right?
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Bob Strayer

It appears there was quite a large and well defined eucalyptus plantation as well as pastures. Smoke from at least three open fires. The evidence of human activity dominating the landscape is stark. If you were attempting to show a native landscape, you failed.

 The reasoning behind returning to a native ecosystem, is that it is less prone to catastrophic fires and easier to maintain. Purely economic. FEMA would rather spend $5 million now to reduce catastrophic fire risk, than spend $5 billion or more later, to rebuild a fire ravaged community.

 If there were no human dwellings, I don't believe humans in general would care what species dominated the forest. However, humans are here, many have their entire lives invested in their homes, and they prefer that the trees next to their homes not bear the firefighter's nickname "gasoline on a stick!"
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Remsen Belvedere

So if this isn't the native ecosystem, what will be, if there are still thousands of invasive and flammable houses dominating the landscape?

If it's "purely economic", then why not just pave over everything that isn't already developed?

Interesting to see how in an area where environmentalism reigns supreme and many use politics to force others to either do without or spend a lot in order to preserve the environment, we're seeing those same people demand wholesale destruction of the environment because they have "invested in their homes" and have an obsession with preventing nature from doing that which it does, naturally.

Very interesting indeed.
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Bob Strayer

Your misanthropic attitude is not particularly conducive to productive dialogue.
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Remsen Belvedere

What is misanthropic about questioning hypocrisy? Oh, right...you're of those who don't like anyone questions your dogma. Well, I'm sorry that you're so thin skinned. Before all of this bickering started I was agnostic as to the EIS and the HCN position. People like you and Howard have given me great cause to move towards the HCN position.
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Bob Strayer

What hypocrisy?

You offered a 1920's photo of the East Bay landscape dominated by human activity, as an example of what a return to native species would look like.

How is that; challenging my dogma?

Eradicating the eucalyptus is not destroying the environment, it is the first step to restoring it. 

http://ccfirestorm.blogspot.com/2013/06/area-29-restoration.html
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Remsen Belvedere

That you don't see the hypocrisy of destroying the environment to "save it" doesn't surprise me. That you also have an obsession with the miracle of "native species" when the hills are, and will continue to be, dominated with non-native, highly flammable structures also doesn't surprise me.

You talk about restoring the environment as you push plans to destroy it, not even realizing that you've already admitting that your position is based on money, especially protecting your own at the cost of the environment. As the picture I linked to showed, the native state of the hills didn't include housing. Yet you're proclaiming that you want to restore the native ecosystem.



Stop cloaking your position in environmentalism. "Eradicating" 80,000 trees is a wholesale destruction of the environment, period. Even under the most hopeful of projections it will take 20 years for new trees to have substantial growth. It's all about you and Howard and a few others being willing to destroy the region's environment and harm the health and well being of the region's population for over 20 years to gain some minimal edge in preserving your investment from the risk of a fire.

Hypocrisy, defined.
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Bob Strayer

You are arguing against yourself, not me. Creating a weak argument and calling it my position is called a straw man fallacy.

I never cloaked my position in environmentalism. I have consistently argued that the trees present an unacceptable fire hazard that must be mitigated. That the major source of fuel for a fire is the homes, is irrelevant, since we are not going to remove the homes.

I have walked through, and taken pictures of, the post eradication recovery areas. They are all nicely recovered in less than a decade.

The CBA for the UCB fuels management plan (eradicate and liberate) has an ROI of ~9-1 with a 10% reduction in fire risk. The major fire risk is from the tall trees, particularly eucalyptus do to their flammability and tendency to spot fires. Removing the trees will reduce the risk more than 10%, so the ultimate ROI could actually be much higher.

The trees were brought here as part of a number if failed enterprises, mistakes. The idea that these trees are being treated pariahs and must be defended, is preposterous.
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Remsen Belvedere

So you admit it's all about destroying the region's environment to provide illusory protection for the financial interests of a select few. Thanks!
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Bob Strayer

I made no such admission, that is a hyperbolic construct of your own imagination.

The regions environment, as evidenced by your 1920's photograph, was destroyed long ago by human activity. One of the most environmentally destructive activities, also in evidence in your photos, was the planting of non-native, mono-crop plantations of eucalyptus trees.

Eradicating these trees is restoring the regions environment. But that is only a side benefit of the underlying purpose of eradicating the trees, which is to protect the lives and homes of the people who live in the East Bay Hills.
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Remsen Belvedere

Hey, buddy, I can't help it if you don't understand what you write. You contradict yourself as you deny what you say. In one sentence it's about the environment, in the next it's about money, then it's restoring the environment by killing off the trees so houses can proliferate.

Again, I thank you for finally admitting that the environment has nothing to do with your agenda; it's all about money and entitlement for the few on the backs of the health and well being of the many.
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Bob Strayer

To my knowledge, we have never met. I am not your buddy.

It is not my fault that you are incapable of binomial thought.

The environment has a lot to do with my "agenda". But so does economics and safety. One does not mutually exclude the others.

Thank you for playing expose, ridicule, and marginalize.
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Remsen Belvedere

It's easy to marginalize thought that is extreme, contradictory and nonsensical, so the thanks should remain with you.

We now know that your agenda is to expand carbon footprints for your comfort and financial gain and the charade of restoring the environment has been exposed.
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Bob Strayer

Your argument begins with the false premise that eradicating the eucalyptus trees would destroy the environment.

A walk through the eradicated area along the Willow or Summit House Trails is all the evidence one needs to dismiss your premise as nonsense.

You may think yourself clever with your convoluted logic that allegedly exposes my agenda!

But in reality, all you are exposing is your own convoluted logic.
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Remsen Belvedere

You've already admitted that this is about money, not the environment, so why do you keep returning to environmental arguments? Allow me to remind you of your own words with regard to why you want to destroy the eucalyptus forests:

"Purely economic."

So try to get your arguments straight.

My argument is, and always will be, that "eradicating" 80,000 or so trees (and the environmental benefits they provide to the entire Bay Area) to calm the oversensitive nerves of a very few entitled homeowners is a boondoggle and surely not the proper way to address the issue.

This is why you've lost me and why I'm ever closer to donating a significant amount of money to the HCN. It's also why so many rational, logical people are speaking out against the FEMA plan.
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Bob Strayer

FYI, I have been an environmentalist since this commercial first aired.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7OHG7tHrNM

I can take your words out of context as well. You said:

"I think we should just cut down all of the trees."

You even suggested paving over everything that is not developed. Preposterous ideas, not even worthy of consideration really. Yet, you present them for consideration. Quite interesting.

And after all the obfuscation and red herring fallacies, you finally state your real position/argument.

"My argument is, and always will be, that "eradicating" 80,000 or so trees (and the environmental benefits they provide to the entire Bay Area) to calm the oversensitive nerves of a very few entitled homeowners is a boondoggle and surely not the proper way to address the issue. "

Well, that is an opinion. Your opinion to be exact, without any credible supporting evidence.

If you want to sue the various agencies charged with protecting the community from catastrophic wildfires, to stop them from doing their jobs. By all means, give your money to the HCN, because that is what they intend to do with it. I have read the EIS. I have read the milliontrees blog, I have been all over the hills on a bicycle and photographed the trees. The EIS dismissed the HCN alternative out of hand, without further study, because it was suffered two fundamental flaws. None of the three agencies is going to adopt it, because FEMA says it won't work. So if FEMA gives us the money, the HCN will sue. Meanwhile, the tinder just keeps piling up!
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Remsen Belvedere

I remember that ad well, buddy. If that's when you started being an environmentalist, when did you stop being an environmentalist?

I look forward to the government agencies that you rely on being challenged in court by experts. Then we'll see how comprehensive and reliable that EIS is. I think you'll find that my opinion is one shared by quite a few experts who aren't on the government's teat. It certainly won't be the first time that a government study will have been found to be inadequate and biased.

Then again, maybe the courts will find that the EIS is the best way to go. If that's the case, then I'll tip my cap and consider the matter to have been fully and fairly vetted.
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Bob Strayer

I never stopped being an environmentalist. I stopped being a naive 11 year old. I understand that environmental projects take money. The best way to get money is to demonstrate a positive ROI.

Eucalyptus trees in the East Bay Hills are an environmental disaster. Eradicating them is a good thing for environment. Coincidentally, eradicating them will reduce the catastrophic risk of fire, netting a 10 to 1 return on investment.

You are on the wrong side of this fight my friend. And your allies don't know what they are doing.

I will do my best to keep you all from making complete fools of yourselves.
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Remsen Belvedere

That's quite an environmentalist, who wants to eradicate trees because there's a high ROI.

You're obsessed with the risk of fire and are willing to cast aside the core principles of environmentalism in order to favor development.

Even a naive 11 year old can see the hypocrisy in that one.

I hope you enjoy losing fights, Mr. Quixote.
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Bob Strayer
I want to eradicate the eucalyptus trees and liberate the oppressed woodland beneath them.

Eradicating eucalyptus in California is in line with core environmental principles.

The fire risk makes it economically feasible. A win win. Risk of catastrophic fire reduced, native habitat restored, and the ROI is exponential.

Calling it a boondoggle, does not alter those facts.

I walked down the Summit House Trail today and took photos of the clear cut, pesticide drenched hillside.

I will share them later tonight.

I also took pictures of the eucalyptus groves and the eradicated and liberated woods right next to them on Skyline and Grizzly Peak.

I took hundreds of pictures, I try to be thorough.

Look at them tomorrow. Then we can talk about the EIS
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Remsen Belvedere

This is getting more amusing the more you write. Yes, wipe out a forest in hope that in 20 years, another one takes its place. Meanwhile, in those 20 years, the environmental suffers irreparable damage from having lost 80,000 mature trees.

The mature trees could be retained and managed to minimize fire risk, but some people don't want to spend the money to do that.

Money over the environment. That's your position. Take all the pictures you want, but the reality is that environmentalism isn't your strong suit. Neither is logic...
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Bob Strayer
The 80,000 trees in question are harming the environment. Removing them is allows it to heal.

I will take all the pictures I want. They are evidence.

You can ignore all the evidence you want. That is called confirmation bias.
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Remsen Belvedere

Yes, Ben Tre Strayer...destroy that forest to save it...you go, girl.

[sound effect: cuckoo cuckoo]
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Bob Strayer
And now we know who still has the mentality of a naive 11 year old.