Too Old to Know Better
posted by Arnold
January 15, 2007
Diane Wilson, the author of An Unreasonable Woman, has written a captivating autobiography of the time she spent fighting one of largest regional industrial forces in her corner of east Texas. The company, Formosa Plastics Corporation, had one of the worst records of environmental pollution of any manufacturer in the country and they had a virtual stranglehold on the economy and politics of the towns of Point Comfort and Seadrift, formerly known for its fishing and shrimping industry.
In this book Ms. Wilson details the dying days of the bay and the slow disintegration of the lives that depended on the bay. She describes the callous attitude of Formosa company officials towards anything that appears to stand in the way of company goals and profits. And she most tellingly describes the almost panic-like state of local, state, and even federal officials who are afraid to face the pollution problem for fear of alienating the company. This is not a book to encourage those who want to fight city hall.
Ms. Wilson writes with an eye to details such as the smell of the breeze, the sounds of the waves, the stench of the pollutants, the squabbling of the children. So detailed is her narrative that at times I was bogged down in so many trees that I couldn’t see the forest. Oh yes, she is also much more original with her analogies than I am.
The story has a happy ending – sort of. The company is still polluting when it thinks it’s necessary but not as much as it used to. The local and regional elected officials are still toadying to the company but also listening to local residents’ concerns. The regulators are still applying the lightest of touches to try to reduce emission problems. And the environmentalists are seeing some change in the level of pollution. Not an ideal result but maybe the best that can be accomplished in this real world.
I loved this book. I read it cover to cover sometimes the same paragraph over and over til it sunk in my head. The sentence about how women sometimes don't hear themselves really hit home with me.
I enjoy following Diane's voyage's. Thank you for this book.