Monday, December 10, 2007

The Things We Worry About

Tony Perry of the LA Times reports that those who tend the USS Arizona Memorial are worried about what it is doing to Pearl Harbor:

The 1.6 million visitors a year to the Arizona Memorial are told by their guides about the legends surrounding the oil that still bubbles up from the sunken battleship.

One legend holds that the oil represents the tears of the 900-plus sailors, soldiers and Marines entombed below decks since the Japanese attack of Dec. 7, 1941. Another tale says the oil will continue to surface until the last Arizona survivor dies.
But the fact is that 500,000 or more gallons of fuel oil are estimated to remain aboard the Arizona. Now the National Park Service and the U.S. Navy, which jointly maintain the memorial, are in the early stages of a comprehensive study of the sunken ship and the possibility that its oil might someday spill into Pearl Harbor, fouling the shoreline and hampering naval operations.

I do not pretend to know the likelihood or scope of the threat that leaking oil from the Arizona poses. But one thing I do know is that a threat that is conspicuously absent these days is that of Japanese (or German or Italian) fascism, which was seen as potentially a threat to Western civilization itself on the morning the Arizona burned. Instead, we devote quite a bit of time to the threats of fuel oil, DDT in bird eggs and the like.

This is more evidence that environmentalism, even in its current global-warming manifestation, is a problem for nations at leisure, an issue for countries that have solved the truly substantial concerns they once faced, countries at peace and where no one starves. Al Gore in his Nobel peace prize acceptance speech today described, in his customary hysterically overwrought way, global warming as a “planetary emergency” and “a threat to the survival of our civilization.” Mr. Gore even invokes World War II in his speech by likening the need to fight it to the struggle against fascism, a trick like referring to global-warming “deniers” in order to try to trick the inattentive reader into placing those who oppose a massive global bureaucratic attack on our freedom into the same mental file as Holocaust deniers. But give me any day a world where this is the sort of thing we worry about, in lieu of a world with totalitarianism on a seemingly unstoppable march. There are problems, and then there are problems.


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