According to University of Rhode Island theoretical physicist Peter Nightingale, “Woonsocket water shows capitalism and environmental justice cannot coexist.”
Once again, it is fair to assume that Governor Raimondo is unlikely to move with her family, First Gentleman Andy Moffit and First Children Ceci and Tommy, to Woonsocket; nor probably will I exchange the safety of the Kingston ivory towers for Woonsocket.
One of the EJSCREEN tools sums of all of the above up in a bar graph called environmental justice indexes. That one also includes ozone, inhalation of which is a serious health threat to children. As this EPA site explains in more detail, children are particularly at risk because their lungs are still developing.
One can’t help but wonder if the professor (taking home $120,137.94 in salary in fiscal 2016) is really anti-capitalist because he’s an environmentalist or is an environmentalist because he’s anti-capitalist. My conclusion is that he wants (other) people to give up their freedom, allowing those of his finer ideological pedigree to run the world, so he amplifies his concern about the environment because that’s a handy cudgel. In an earlier era, he would have been a religious purist scourging believers with some conveniently big-government theological heresy.
What gives him away in the quotation above is the fact that he turns to ozone as the scary health threat to children. Here’s a neat “what’s missing in this picture” game. This is the first chart that Nightingale provides, purporting to show how unhealthy the environment is in Woonsocket. Notice anything conspicuously absent?
Yup. He unchecked the box for ozone from his Woonsocket chart. As you might guess, if he hadn’t done that, even his entirely credulous RIFuture readers might have noticed that Woonsocket is in the first percentile for ozone, which means that 99% of Rhode Islanders have it worse.
This would have been especially embarrassing for the professor given his humblebrag about living in the Kingston area, because Kingston is in the 89th percentile for the state when it comes to ozone. To be sure, Kingston does better in all of the other categories except Superfund proximity (i.e., proximity to hazardous areas).
Similarly, Nightingale makes a big deal about Woonsocket’s high particulate matter score, compared with the rest of Rhode Island, but one can’t help but suspect the reason he didn’t show national percentiles is that Woonsocket is in the 23rd percentile nationally, which is good.
In short, it looks a lot like the professor deliberately manipulated his evidence so as to create a false narrative that would allow him to use the environment as an excuse to undermine his fellow Rhode Islanders’ economic freedom. Call it “fake news.”
None of this is to say that Woonsocket isn’t poorer than the rest of the state, and we can have an economic discussion about why that is so and how it can be ameliorated. But the environment is not the issue, here. As with the demands made in the name of the environment nationally and internationally, Professor Nightingale’s manipulation reeks of deception in the service of his political ideology.