California's Enviro-Policy: Out of Sight, out of Mind

By Elvin, John | Insight on the News, May 27, 2003 | Go to article overview

California's Enviro-Policy: Out of Sight, out of Mind


Elvin, John, Insight on the News


Byline: John Elvin, INSIGHT

California's Enviro-Policy: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

California is one of the centers of environmental correctness. Particularly due to the efforts of Hollywood, but for other cultural reasons as well, it also is known for shallowness and superficiality. Sure, the whole country is guilty of knee-jerk reactions to the latest scare story or enviro-fad, but in California knees seem to jerk faster and higher. All of which means more rules and regulations.

The situation has provided the Sacramento Bee newspaper with an opportunity to do an in-depth analysis of some of the results. In a series called "State of Denial," the Bee looked at the impact of various crusades such as antilogging. California's forests may be lovely and uncut, but the timber for new housing and other uses has to come from somewhere. The state, once self-sufficient in meeting its timber needs, now imports 80 percent of its wood. So what? So the problems the good people of California addressed in their logging ban merely have been shifted to other parts of the planet where timber cutting still is in vogue. And, of course, prices have soared due to import costs.

California also used to get most of its oil from within the state or from Alaska. The Bee report mentioned various impacts of a ban on offshore drilling, among them that the state imports as much as 85,000 barrels of oil per day just from the Ecuadoran portion of the Amazon. Residents of the Golden State have preserved their lovely shoreline, but they still suck up 38 million gallons of gasoline per day, much of it coming from financially strapped countries that cannot afford the luxury of stringent environmental rules.

What Today's Internet Knows About You

A reader has forwarded an e-mail circulating among those concerned about privacy issues and child safety. The note states that you can go to the Google search engine (www.google.com), punch in your complete phone number with hyphens (or anyone else's phone number) and come up with directions to your home, or wherever the phone in question is located. "VERY SCARY," according to the warning.

"People you do not even know will have your name and phone number, but they will also have complete and accurate directions to your home," the note states. Why does this scare people? Perhaps because of the speed involved. Certainly any researcher in the days before computers easily could have come up with that same information using reverse and crisscross directories and detailed maps. The general public may not have known about those tools, but they were common knowledge for detectives, reporters, police and fire dispatchers and salespeople. One assumes the bad guys were equally adept.

But today there is far more information about individuals available to the creative researcher via the Internet. Books on search tactics abound, and various professional (and some not-so-professional) newsletters and Websites are devoted to methods for locating information on individuals. Ask a real-estate agent or personnel recruiter. Check out sites that feature "tools for journalists." If you are scared by what a simple Google search can produce, you'll be ready to take to the tall timber once you learn all the stuff that's available about you and others to a creative and thorough researcher.

For instance, any question or comment posted to a news group or bulletin board probably is archived and can reveal a lot about an individual's problems, interests and activities. While many informational sites have opt-out policies for removal of details, it would be quite a chore to check all the various search engines. There are thousands of them, each with its own specialized searching style or objective. There are ways to deal with the situation, but they take time and effort. The Internet abounds with advice to parents on how to protect and supervise their children's surfing. …

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