Have you noticed the latest environmental trend among companies large and small across America? ItÔÇÖs become incredibly popular to show the public just how green their company is. Supporting the wise use of our earthÔÇÖs resources is certainly an honorable position to take, and one the Snowmobile Alliance of Western States (SAWS) fully supports. Blindly supporting positions and issues promoted as green, and assisting environmental organizations based on claims to ÔÇ£protect the environmentÔÇØ or ÔÇ£save the planetÔÇØ (including the claims of human caused ÔÇ£global warmingÔÇØ) without taking the time to investigate the facts are definitely not doing what is in the best interest of these companies or the environment.
This brings me to The Boeing Company. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, with major operations in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, Boeing has been working overtime to look green in the eyes of the general public, and for good cause. As most are aware, Boeing is the world leader in the number of commercial aircraft flying passengers in our skies today. Many snowmobilers, including SAWS members, work for this large corporation and are an integral part in the design and manufacture of these magnificent quality aircraft. These workers are very proud of the quality of the products they produce, but is everyone in the general public as pleased with the large number of commercial aircraft that are in use today or will be in use tomorrow?
A 2006 article in USA Today titled Concern Grows Over Pollution From Jets states ÔÇ£Aircraft emissions pollute the air and threaten by 2050 to become one of the largest contributors to global warmingÔÇØ. The article also states ÔÇ£scientists studying global warming are most concerned about pollutants emitted when a plane is airborne. Jets are the major source of emissions deposited into the upper atmosphere, where some pollutants have a greater warming effect than when they are released in the same amount from the groundÔÇªÔÇØ Several so-called environmentalists and some extreme environmental groups have even suggested that people that use air travel to get to their vacation destinations for pleasure, are no friend of the environment for unnecessarily increasing their ÔÇ£carbon footprintÔÇØ on this planet for selfish pleasure purposes.
So it is understandable that Boeing would want to project a green image to the public. To help it with its green image, Boeing created an organization called ÔÇ£Global Corporate CitizenshipÔÇØ. In the Environment section of this organizationÔÇÖs website, Boeing states ÔÇ£Boeing recognizes the serious challenges facing our eco-system and is committed to reducing the effect of its operations, products and services on the environmentÔÇ£ Reading through their website it is obvious Boeing has taken some┬ávery positive steps to┬átry and improve the environment and to help somewhat offset their products negative effect on the environment, but remember what I previously said above about blindly jumping on board everything that is promoted as green? Unfortunately SAWS has discovered that in at least one such case Boeing has done exactly that.
┬áSAWS recently discovered that Boeing is sponsoring this yearÔÇÖs annual dinner and silent auction that will be held next month for the benefit of Washington Wilderness Coalition (WWC). WWC is an extreme group that supports the┬ádesignation of large┬áportions of public land in Washington State┬áas new wilderness areas. WWC currently has a campaign in full swing to promote the addition of 230,000 acres of new wilderness in the Colville National Forest in northeast Washington State. They were also one of the sponsors of the new 106,000 acre Wild Sky Wilderness near Index, Washington. There are also numerous other wilderness proposals in this state that WWC would like to see designated. It would appear there is not much of any public land in this state that they would not like to see declared wilderness.
What is wrong with designating so much land as wilderness? Many in the general public, and possibly within Boeing GCC, think that wilderness is any nice place in the forest where commercial and residential development is prohibited. In fact, most Forest Service managed federal public land is already protected from development through current non-wilderness designations. They may think it is great to support these new wilderness areas so that they have a place to visit on weekends, possibly with their motor home to camp in a developed campground next to a flowing mountain stream with a camp fire near the picnic table. Maybe they would like to use these areas for a mountain bike ride, or a fishing trip with their small motor boat, or even to take the family on a snowmobile trip to view nature on one of those few but fine Washington State winter sunny days? Well I have news for these folks; none of these popular activities are allowed in any designated wilderness area. Mechanical transports of any type are forbidden in designated wilderness. Many in the general public, including many Boeing employees, recreate by means of mechanical transport and are not pleased with organizations┬álike WWC that attempt to close┬áaccess to public lands where┬áthey are currently allowed to recreate.
Environmentally speaking, wilderness is not a good means to provide ÔÇ£protection of open spacesÔÇ£, due to the fact that designated wilderness areas do not allow for proper forest management practices nor do they allow fire access roads. This non-management┬ápractice frequently leads to catastrophic forest fires due to dead and dying timber from disease and bug infestations. This dead timber can not be removed from these areas so it┬áthen becomes the fuel source for destructive forest fires. The amount of pollutants in the smoke generated by the yearly forest fires we experience in the western United States is enormous, but unlike aircraft pollution most smoke particulates from forest fires are much lower in altitude where they can cause some very serious health concerns.
SAWS contacted several individuals within Boeing GCC, including Neelima Shah, the local Boeing GCC Civic and Environment Representative, to inform them of our concern regarding BoeingÔÇÖs support of WWC. The only response we received was ÔÇ£Washington Wilderness Coalition is one of our partner organizations through the company’s environment category. The work of the Coalition aligns with our NW environment strategy of addressing sprawl and land development through the acquisition and protection of open spaces, shorelines, forests and farmlands. The company seeks to protect open/wild space because of its impact on creating a vibrant and healthy place for employees to live and workÔÇØ
SAWS then replied with facts about WWC, facts about what wilderness really is, and also with a request to meet with them and further discuss this issue. SAWS also informed them of our SAWS Mission statement which is ÔÇ£to provide education regarding public lands policy and outdoor recreation ethics in order to preserve and protect access to traditional trails and terrain on public lands, so that future generations will be able to enjoy nature through snowmobiling as generations have done in the pastÔÇØ. After several weeks with no further response from Boeing GCC, it is very apparent they do not wish to discuss this issue further.
To read about the Local Strategies of Boeing GCC select the following link:
According to the Boeing GCC website, if you wish to contact the local Boeing GCC Environment and Civic Representative, you should contact:
Neelima Shah, Community Investor, Environment & Civic´┐¢
Remember to be polite, but factual. Arguing, yelling or using foul language will get you nowhere. Those types of responses do far more damage to our position on this issue than to calmly and factually describe them. Keep in mind that many snowmobilers in Washington State┬áand several other western states make their living working for Boeing, and we do not wish to give our sport a worse reputation than how the media already negatively portrays it.┬á
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States