This may sound harsh, but the campground industry has an enormously uncomfortable relationship with Mother Nature: like the victim of an abusive spouse, it prefers not to acknowledge that there is a dark and sometimes violent side to its partner.
Two days after passing around a tin cup for donations to help campgrounds getting swamped on the West Coast, the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) was at it once more, this time on behalf of campgrounds at the opposite end of the country. Proclaiming yet again that “When natural disasters strike, it’s in our nature to help,” the solicitation summarized the situation as follows:
At least eight people were killed on Thursday as severe storms and tornadoes left a trail of damage across the South. Ferocious winds sent residents running for cover, blew roofs off homes and knocked out power to thousands. The storms damaged power lines, severed tree limbs and sent debris flying into streets in Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky, where at least 35 preliminary tornado reports were recorded as of Thursday evening, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
All of which undoubtedly was true, as was a similarly generic recitation about the West Coast disaster—but in neither description was there any mention of an actual RV park or campground. The reader is left to assume that campgrounds were damaged, which is quite likely, but how many campgrounds or to what extent is left to the imagination. There are no human faces put on the tragedies for which ARVC is seeking a compassionate response, for the simple reason that ARVC doesn’t know them—nor does it really want to know them. Much better to leave this all on an abstract level.
That may sound harsh, but it speaks to the enormously uncomfortable relationship ARVC, and perhaps a majority of its members, have with Mother Nature. Like the victim of an abusive spouse, the campground industry prefers not to acknowledge that there is a dark and sometimes violent side to the relationship. Yes, there are problems, but we’ll keep those to ourselves—regardless of how unsustainable that may be—while presenting only a sunny face to the public. Anything else might be bad for business.
What throws this dynamic into sharp relief is the ironically concurrent news in the journal Science, published yesterday, that scientists at ExxonMobil “predicted global warming correctly and skillfully” more than 40 years ago. The peer-reviewed study found that Exxon’s scientists made remarkably accurate projections of just how much global warming would be increased by burning fossil fuels—“as accurate, and sometimes even more so, as those of independent academic and government models,” reported the New York Times this past Thursday.
Exxon’s corporate suite, no surprise, quickly put the kibbosh those several decades ago on its own research, casting doubt on its scientists’ work and cautioning against any move away from carbon-based fuels. Global warming projections “are based on completely unproven climate models or, more often, on sheer speculation,” the oil company’s chief executive assured a company annual meeting in 1999. “We do not now have a sufficient scientific understanding of climate change to make reasonable predictions and/or justify drastic measures,” he wrote in a company brochure the following year
ARVC, whose members rely on customers who drive vehicles of unenviable gas consumption, was only too happy to fan the embers of skepticism. Calls to reduce greenhouse emissions were premature, it declared in a 1998 policy, because of the “considerable uncertainty surrounding the theories on climate change.” What was needed, ARVC contended, was “more research, data collection and scientific analysis”—although presumably not by scientists employed by ExxonMobil. And guess what? Nearly a quarter of a century later, ARVC’s policy remains unchanged, as mired as ever in “considerable uncertainty,” even as its members watch helplessly as their campgrounds get inundated, leveled and swept away by pounding seas, tornadoes, mud slides and thousand-year storms.
And the tin cup gets passed around yet again.
To be clear, asking help for those unfortunate enough to be home when the chickens come to roost is both admirable and necessary. It’s just not enough. Aside from the disproportionate ratio of need to available resources, it doesn’t deal with the underlying problem. It doesn’t answer such fundamental questions as: who’s at risk? can that risk be managed? if not, what’s the alternative? is the current campground business model sustainable? if not, what changes—if any—can make it so? It essentially ensures that without such questions being asked, the pleas for help will only grow more bigger and more frequent.
One place to start changing this vicious spiral would be for ARVC to create a reporting system so it can quickly identify which campgrounds and RV parks may be affected by the latest extreme weather disaster—to put a face on the victims. Another would be to revisit its 1998 policy, in light of the past 24 years of “research, data collection and scientific analysis,” and figure out what a meaningful revision might look like. Yet another would be for ARVC to promote discussion among its members of a common threat, so it’s no longer seen as a taboo subject, the bogeyman whose name must not be uttered.
Most of all, it would help if ARVC and its members simply acknowledged that the love of their lives is sometimes abusive. The first step on the road to recovery, as any 12-step program participant will tell you, is to acknowledge that your life has become unmanageable.
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2 thoughts on “RV chickens coming home to roost”
Wow, okay. Awesome post. So let me see if I get the gist:
– Campgrounds are not always damaged in natural disasters
– The campground industry prefers not to acknowledge a dark and often violent side to its partner
– There is a need for a reporting system so that campgrounds and RV parks can be quickly identified and the damage done to them documented
– acknowledgement that love of their lives is sometimes abusive would help in the road to recovery
Did I get it? Hey, keep up the awesome content. Definitely going to be following along.
Rob @ NewAmericanWarrior.com
The median age of RV Destinations in America is 40 years old with 77% over the age of 20 years old. RV Destinations designed 10 years ago never considered RVs that would require over 125 KwHs of electricity per day, many didn’t develop roads or sites that could support an 80,000 lb. vehicle, or nearly every RV having a bathroom or slide out – more less 5 slide outs. Instead of financially compensating the owners of these antiquated RV Destinations, why don’t we educate them on how to modify existing or develop new RV Destinations that reduce the negative impact of Mother Nature?
Certainly, there are people who design RV Destinations today who consider not only how to exceed the expectations of each unique kind of RV owner today, but also consider Mother Nature and the uniqueness of the property. Of course the only way to successfully design a unique RV Destination is to walk that unique property – no one can successfully design a site if they have never walked the property. http://www.EOB-Consulting.com is an example of someone who truly understands today’s RV owners and designs RV Destinations that work with Mother Nature and the unique properties thus reducing the risk of a tragedy all together.