from August 2011, Culture
Ideas are usually based on assumptions. Sometimes the best way to see whether an idea works or not is to dig deeper than the idea itself and test whether the assumptions are true or not.
For example, the KBRA’s dam removal proposition is based on the environmental and tribal assumption that dams along the Klamath river are the cause for lower fish populations during the 20th century. This argument assumes that had dams never been put along the Klamath river fish populations would have remained the same (higher than today). Moreover, the argument also assumes removing the dams now will return fish populations to a level reported before dams were built along the river.
On the other hand, there is an argument against dam removal which is based on the assumption that there are other, significant reasons for lower fish populations. These arguments assume that what happens while fish are in the ocean for four years matters just as much, and perhaps even more, than what happens during their journey along the river. This argument assumes making the river pristine as the wind drive snow won't matter much because the major issue isn't being addressed — what happens to the fish when at sea?
If you just listened to the rhetoric on the other side, you would probably come to the conclusion that the main obstacle to returning prosperity to the Basin is those darn dams along the Klamath river. If we could just get rid of them, we could all once again live in harmony with each other and with nature.
The gospel according to KBRA preaches that if we can get those dams to come a tumblin' down, then fish populations will magically return to numbers only seen before western europeans inhabited the land. There would be so many salmon running up and down the Klamath river we would no longer need bridges — one could just walk on fish from one side to the other.
However, this thinking all hinges on the the assertion that the Klamath River Dams are the single, significant cause for a decline in fish population during the past 60 years. What if this assertion is wrong? Could there be other explanations for fish population decline that we haven't explored or have dismissed because our world view of “dam removal or die” prevents us from seeing the truth?
The Herald and News did it again. They just can't help themselves. In Saturday, August 13th's edition on page A5, editor Steve Miller quibbles,
“To the strategists in the left and right camps, everything that anyone else says is biased. As well, no one from between the wings can simply think what the camps do or say or propose is wrong, or vain , or bad policy... it can't be other than premeditated political speech.”
Mr. Miller is making the case that reality consists of three main points of view: a “left” or liberal view, a “right” or conservative view, and finally a “middle” or neutral point of view.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.” You may have learned this lesson in grade school when someone wanted a different story to be read than the one you wanted. Or maybe at home when a sibling got to choose a different television show than you wanted to watch that evening. Their opinion ruled the day and you had to live with it.
However, the problem is that not all opinions are equal. Moreover, some opinions are downright dangerous.
When someone chose a different story or television show than the ones you preferred, there was adult supervision. They weren't allowed to choose anything, but only certain things within a safe range. The opinion of some that “green is the best color”, while others claim that “orange is the best color” is certainly up for debate. But when it comes to matters of public policy the stakes are considerably higher, and something else must come into play — truth.
Unintended consequences are results that were unforseen or not well thought out when a decision was made. For example, the uninteneded consequence of little John-John playing with a ball in the house is that he accidentally knocks over his brother's dominos. He didn't mean to, but it happened because of his decision to play with a ball near his brother's dominos.
Sometimes there are positive unitended consequences. However, more often than not, complex problems that are “fixed” with a simple solution usually lead to negative ones.
Does the KBRA have unitended consequences? Of course it does. Here are just a few: