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Windmills and dragons are not mutually exclusive

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
February 15, 2008


As an environmentalist I am often the recipient of the condescending adjective. Idealist, clueless, misanthropic, angry, crazy, and most recently "whacked out" by individuals trying to make sense of my commitment to ecological awareness and stewardship. I cool with that because I know better.

A jaded Green I am far from clueless, crazy like a fox, and angry only at the harm being done to the flora and fauna of planet earth. Nor am I a misanthrope. I like people, I just wish most of us weren't so damn destructive.

As a native of San Diego County I have watched the region morph from sleepy agricultural communities to a suburban waste land of strip malls and soul crushing traffic where reason and restraint are avoided like the plague. Sometime in the mid 80's I decided that I wasn't going to just let it happen without trying to conserve and preserve my native habitat.

O.K so I have been less than successful in my attempt to slay the dragon of overdevelopment and over population in San Diego County. Year after year I have borne witness to the unrelenting march of short sighted progress as it lays waste to the open space and natural heritage that drew people to southern California in the first place.

Driving through Carlsbad last week I was overwhelmed by a sense of loss. Stuck in traffic, I couldn't believe Every last inch of space was under construction. Once upon a time Carlsbad was a net exporter of produce. Rolling hillsides of strawberries and tomatoes, along with miles of flowers have been replaced with Mc Mansions and industrial parks.

The question that has yet to be answered is how Carlsbad plans to feed their population if required to. Even with a desalinization plant where will they grow the food needed to sustain a 100,000 or more people. You can't eat asphalt, stucco and glass. Not to be out done in the overdevelopment sweepstakes Oceanside with a population of more than 180,000, Vista with nearly100,000 and San Marcos with 75,000 residents it's clear the region has grown way beyond carrying capacity and will continue to do so until the money and water runs out.

Most people don't want to face the dragon of over consumption choosing instead to find shelter in the windmills of commercial convenience. In the face of unrelenting population pressure resignation to the status quo is as easy as it is dangerous. Southern California can't develop or redevelop it's way out economic or environmental collapse.

Not one to be daunted by insurmountable odds I'm always up for a good challenge. Call me an idealist or call me quixotic with right on my side and a clear sense of priorities I believe some battles are worth waging without or without the assistance of the people benefit from the struggle.

An active participant in life slaying dragons has become high sport for me. Unfortunately the dragons I'm fighting are expert at building windmills and have plenty of friends to help them.

To joust or not to joust is the question we should all be asking ourselves.

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