Our industry, and other heavy industries have done dismal job of keeping the public informed of what we do, how we do it, and the benefits to society. I spoke about this earlier this week over on PaperMoney.
The reality today is that the pulp and paper industry is tightly regulated, closely watched, and by and large a good citizen. No, it has not always been that way, and yes there is still the occasional bad apple today. But for the most part, we are good citizens of the world.
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The NGOs, such as Greenpeace, Environmental Defense Fund and others, are in transition, a surprising transition. Let's look at a bit of history. In the 1970s, these organizations and others like them came into being. Personally, I was turned off immediately, for they violated laws to make their points--Greenpeace's illegal boarding of fishing vessels sticks in my mind. Justifying your illegal acts because, in your opinion, someone else is doing an illegal act (sometimes not against real laws on the books, but self-determined "crimes against nature") did not cut it with me. After all, maybe I decide I don't like the color you paint your house, a "crime against vision," and I decide to burn it down. What's the difference?
Nevertheless, in those days, these environmental advocates could be considered forward thinkers. They had a vision, whether you believed it or not, that pollution was taking the world down the wrong path. Their vision was ahead of most others.
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Now, however, forty years later, the tables are turned. Most activities at pulp and paper mills are done under BACT (Best Available Control Technology) or MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) without exception. These protocols are written into the appropriate regulations and laws.
This leaves the environmental advocates in a quandary. Their job is finished, they have nothing to do. That means they cannot sustain their business model--who is going to give them money? They don't manufacture anything, they are solely dependent on sympathetic handouts (and, when they have been able to manipulate the system) government funds for their prosperity.
So, they ratchet up the rhetoric. They depend on generations of young people born since the major environmental improvements were made. They don't mind if these new generations get the wrong ideas and equate us to the polluters of the 1970s for it helps them survive. The environmental advocates have become the old fashioned part of the equation, and they don't mind that as long as they can continue the myth of pending disaster.
It is time to call them out. I have mentioned elsewhere appeasement does not work. The real objective of the environmental advocacy groups today is their own survival. They cannot afford to declare a great victory for then their income dries up. They are in a predicament.
For safety this week, consider your personal environment as you do your job each day. There are two dangers here. The first is this: if your job requires you to stay in one place all day, you may become complacent to the dangers around you (and there are dangers everywhere, even in an office). If your job requires you to roam around your facility, there may be dangers in places with which you are not completely familiar. Either way, hazards abound.
Be safe and we will talk next week.