Mazzuca: Cleaning the environment starts with cleaning the streets (column) |

Mazzuca: Cleaning the environment starts with cleaning the streets (column)

Butch Muzucca
Valley Voices

In 1970, President Richard Nixon signed an executive order creating the United States Environmental Protection Agency. For those too young to remember, those were the days of Denver’s “brown cloud” — when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland actually caught fire and New York City’s air pollution was so thick that frequently visitors couldn’t even see the city’s iconic bridges.

We’ve come a long, long way since then, thank goodness, but unfortunately, some things have changed. We can see New York City’s bridges clearly now, but somehow 75,000 homeless in New York or 55,000 homeless in Los Angeles sleeping in public parks, relieving themselves wherever and creating mounds of human waste doesn’t seem to alarm our modern day environmentalists.

Recently NBC did a survey in the environmentalist capital of the planet, San Francisco, and found garbage strewn over all 153 blocks of downtown including 100 blocks that had human feces on the streets to go along with the thousands of discarded hypodermic needles. A UC Berkeley infectious disease specialist commented, “The contamination is much greater than communities in Brazil or Kenya or India.”

Andy Bales, head of the Union Rescue Mission in San Francisco, told the Guardian he lost his leg because he got E. coli, staph and strep from the sidewalk because of the feces. The City by the Bay now has, according to one UN monitor, “… storm drains clogged with human waste and filth on a scale I hadn’t anticipated.”

A close friend who lives not far from downtown tells me the streets are appalling; but for whatever reason today’s environmentalists seem to feel no compunction about stepping over human excrement on their way to ending global warming.

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Back in the ’70s environmentalist groups had measurable goals, such as making the air quality in this city or that one, more breathable; but today, environmental goals have become rather abstract. The focus has shifted from a tangible world with sidewalks septic enough to cause E. coli to the grand conceit of creating “environmental justice.”

Not too long ago the National Park Service removed the garbage cans lining Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Predictably the area was soon littered with debris. Meanwhile, with the garbage piling up, the NPS never missed a beat in updating its website with an extensive video series on “Climate change in national parks.”

Leonardo Di Caprio, who once said “Humans have put our entire existence in jeopardy,” was to receive an award from the environmental group Riverkeeper. So what did Di Caprio, who was in France at the time, do? He did what any committed environmentalist would do, he hired a private jet to fly the 8,000-mile round-trip from Paris to New York and back.

Billionaire Richard Branson tells us “Not to be the generation responsible for irreversibly damaging the environment,” yet he flies his Dassault 50EX to his private island. Bill Gates knows “climate change is a terrible problem that absolutely has to be solved,” but has no issue flying his Bombardier BD-700 Global Express whenever he travels.

Months after saying she was going to put “a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business” for their sins against climate, Hillary Clinton flew in a private jet from Martha’s Vineyard to Nantucket (that’s 20 miles) for a fundraiser with Cher.

But the problem goes well beyond these few elitist hypocrites. The Wall Street Journal cites how laws over the last 50 years, including the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act, contributed mightily to the wildfires ravaging California. Meaning it can be rightly argued that the devastation we are seeing in California is actually a manmade event.

Did you know the Paris climate accord was negotiated next to Paris Le Bourget Airport, the world’s largest private jet airport? I wonder, did the 195 signatories to the agreement disclose what the carbon footprint was from all of those private jet aircrafts?

Actions speak louder than words; so it’s occurred to me that today’s environmentalists might be wise to heed the words of my good friend Cal, who in a recent conversation with his 16-year-old environmentally conscious daughter said, “Before you begin saving the planet, Trisha, try cleaning up your room.”

Quote of the day: “A hypocrite is a politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make speech for conservation,” — Adlai E. Stevenson.

Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes biweekly for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at

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