Maybe it was a Christmas miracle, or maybe Howell Raines took Christmas Eve off. Whatever the reason, something amazing happened on December 24, 2002: the New York Times ran two reasonable stories on environmental issues.
The first is perhaps the most amazing. It was an article by Nicholas Kristof praising Bush’s decision to permit snowmobiles back in Yellowstone. As I read the article, I kept waiting for him to say something offensive--which is the hallmark of a Kristof article--but it didn’t happen. Instead, he presented the argument for why the alternative of no snowmobiles is actually more harmful to the environment (the larger coaches used to drag around tourists spew more pollution per person), and why the new Bush policy of permitting the quieter, more efficient 4-stoke engines is a good idea. Then he said what must simply be sacrilege to the green set:
Some environmentalists have forgotten, I think, that our aim should be not just to preserve nature for its own sake but to give Americans a chance to enjoy the outdoors.
At this point, I’m feeling a little light headed. My worldview has been shattered--a sensible statement on the NYT op-ed page. But then I turn to the feature-length piece on the page by Thomas Pakenham, who chides radical conservationist groups in Britain for buying up acres of forest only to chop them down because the trees were not native to the area as of the end of the last ice age. The article beautifully pointed out the silliness of these organizations, who would destroy the countryside in the name environmental purity.
So there you have it: two reasonable articles in one day by the NYT. You can try to tell me that Raines was on vacation, but I’m sticking to the miracle theory.