To the editor:
I read with interest an article in this newspaper on July 9 about an abandoned, polluted industrial site in Norton. (“Building site of new town hall, community center a growing concern in Norton,” Page 1). The town’s building inspector was quoted as saying, “We own the threat.” He went on to explain that it was an issue of public safety, even though the land was private property. I agree with the building inspector’s assessment.
I am reminded of the famous Earth Day comic strip in 1971 in which cartoonist Walt Kelly’s Pogo looks out over a swamp littered with bottles, cans, an abandoned vehicle, and other trash and says, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
When industry runs amok, we, the public, have to clean up the mess. By law, corporations have limited liability. When they go bankrupt, the individuals who make up the corporation are shielded from reprehensibility for whatever debts or damage has been left behind.
I am thinking now about the fossil fuel industry, which profits from products which release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
While internal memos reveal that the industry admitted years ago that climate change “cannot be denied,” these companies continue to extract profits from our planet — using some of their ill-gotten gains to fund climate deniers.
They will do this for as long as they can get away with it, and then, when the day of reckoning comes, walk away. We should hold them to account now. Even after we finally come to our senses as a democracy and launch a serious effort to mitigate climate change, we will still be left with the dirty byproducts of fracking and mountaintop mining.
It’s our safety and well-being that is at risk. We own the threat.