What Hides Beneath the Pond Scum?

Thermal treatment is perceived by the public throughout the world as a threatening alternative, which results in the emission of dangerous pollution. Its name sounds almost like a relaxing massage.

The growing attention to environment problems in recent years has generated a new language of concepts and terms that can be called "yaroket" [from the Hebrew word for green, "yarok"], inspired by the algae that grow on pond water. In nature, pond scum is colored bright green, but it often conceals a putrid source of water that contains quite a few hazards.

Such green terms can serve to strengthen environmental consciousness and to mobilize additional forces on its behalf. Yet they must be treated with great suspicion for one of their prominent characteristics is the ability to blur and disguise environmental damage, and sometimes even present it as an action on behalf of the environment. Here are a few typical examples:

Sustainable development - One of the important environmental terms that has been wrapped with dozens of nuances. One of them is to take into consideration the long-term environmental and social ramifications when engaging in new development projects. It is impossible today to formulate an environmental policy without using this concept. Nonetheless, it is so vague and abstract that some developers who seek harmfully to exploit the environment have also adopted it.

Minimizing damages - Actions aimed at reducing environmental damage resulting from construction or the operation of facilities that emit pollution. This is a term that is supposed to lend a positive aspect to a negative action. It enables many monstrosities to be legitimized by focusing attention on actions like reducing pollution, while it is unclear what justification there is for any pollution to be emitted into the environment in the first place.

Concentrated dispersion - An invention with a whiff of Israeli thinking, derived from master plans and blueprints the planning institutions have promoted in recent years. The concept means dispersing the centers of construction in a certain region and condensing construction in each such center. In practice, it means the continued spread of construction at the expense of open space, albeit in a slightly less wasteful manner. Instead of spreading in small blots in many places, large blots are constructed in a few spots.

Thermal treatment - A term smacking of Orwellian Newspeak, which means incinerating waste or the remains of sewage. Engineers will claim it is a precise definition of the process of creating high temperature for breaking down waste. In truth, it is a linguistic alternative used by those who support the burning of waste. This type of incineration is perceived by the public throughout the world as a threatening alternative, which results in the emission of dangerous pollution. Thermal treatment sounds almost like a relaxing massage.

"Timlohot" [brine waste] - Sewage with a very high concentration of salt. Many factories, and the Environment Ministry as well, tend to emphasize the salt when they describe brine waste. In this way, they create a clean image for the sewage, as if it has no impact on the environment. Sometimes this is correct, but often this is sewage that smells bad and is bad for its environment.

Scenic road - A road that is supposed to integrate scenery and intensify the experience of viewing it. The paving of a road by definition harms the scenery, but roads can provide an experience of enjoying the view. This experience is a positive side effect that can justify the paving of a road only in special cases. There are architects who take the definition several steps further and also refer to the road that runs along the separation fence as a scenic road. After all, the fence is indeed built in remarkably beautiful areas.

Ecological settlement - A settlement whose construction is supposed to be integrated with nature, in its style and character of construction, because it relies on the recycling of waste, efficient use of energy and appropriate sewage treatment. In practice, it refers to a settlement whose founders insisted on locating it in the heart of nature, sometimes harming rare species. They live in their ecological home, full of good intentions, but these intentions do not prevent the damage they are causing to nature.

Preservation-oriented fabric - A region whose future planning includes a special emphasis on the preservation of open space. This amiable term was coined by planners in Israel in an attempt to show they are also making way for open space and preserving the landscape. Only the future will tell whether these "fabrics" served merely to develop a green facade or whether they really helped to block construction and worked as affirmative action for open spaces, as their name promises.