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We Failed in Flint. Here’s How to Avoid Making the Same Mistakes in Climate Policy


We Failed in Flint. Here’s How to Avoid Making the Same Mistakes in Climate Policy

Elizabeth Sawin

The same four mistakes that led to tragedy in Flint are repeated in other cities and, dangerously, in the realm of global climate policy. To create a just and sustainable world we must learn to recognize and rectify each of them.


What mistakes? What was done in Michigan was cold and calculated crime. It was a criminal act and the proper authorities need to step up, identify and prosecute the offenders. Mistakes indeed!!!


I regard this in the context of subversive criminal acts against democracy for control of government - in other instances, EXCEPT in the US, this form of "exceptionalism" might very well be considered a form of 'coup d'etat'. 1) the response to a city, the civic base of which having first been undermined by corporations with no human conscience - no wonder they demand to be called 'persons'; and like a sack of hammers double down on the demand with the black-robed bilge known as 'citizens united', 2) building on that, an "emergency manager" of the same ilk does what he was HIRED for - making the REAL living, breathing citizens and their means and property the short term sacrifice, the "externalized cost" with long term and permanent consequences. That is neither a "mistake" nor GOVERNANCE in a democracy, it is predatory capitalism.

Regardless of whatever the arcane legal arguments might be ( such as corporate roots in maritime law, English common law precedents or others ) dug up from the sludge left over from decades and centuries past, the scorn for ethics and societal well being remains the same.


Benny wrote before I had a chance to, and I agree wholeheartedly. Let me add this: writing about what "we" did is an (unintended) way to avoid putting the blame firmly and openly on the people who did things like this. That's why they get away with it time and time again, from Wall Street, the biggest banks and Congress down to police chiefs, no responsibility need be acknowledged. And who is the "we" who still need to recognize their "mistakes"? Every time something is written about Flint, the names of the criminally greedy should be included and then also the names of those who are supposed to punish therm and don't.


Ms. Sawin wrote a very intelligent and wise piece and we all would do well to remember her points and advice in the future.

She correctly points the finger of blame and wisely advises making those who will have to drink the water be involved in the feed back loop as to what water they will actually be given to drink. However she skips over the question of responsibility for what happened.

Let me rephrase ... She skips over the question of prosecution of those responsible for what has happened.

The EMF who made this deplorable and literally criminally negligent decision that resulted in physical harm to a community should be held responsible for making such a choice.

That is the thing that if you are not held responsible for harming people then you have much less concern about making a mistake that could harm them. Without risk anyone is more willing to gamble.

A voluntary decision was made to switch to a lower quality source of water simply to save a relatively minor amount of money. To choose to go to a lower quality source is the risky behavior. Had all means of processing and treating the water been employed as a safety measure then one could excuse any culpability about the choice but safety was less of a consideration then was money. A choice. A single man's decision harmed a great many people and children. One man's choice. An unskilled (in water treatment etc.) person who looked at accounting sheets not civil engineering reports. To make such a decision needed a skilled person and reams of risk assessment/epa reports etc.

He took the risk with other people's lives and it harmed them. For that... he should be prosecuted since it was NOT a risk that should have been taken.

Ms. Sawin's article is very useful for avoiding such events in the future. Particularly that the people who will have to live with a decision should be involved with making that decision. Something that wasn't done in Flint ... which is why the crime could happen... they weren't even told. A crime.