Monday, March 28, 2016

Truth is clearly overrated among our kind (7)

It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.
(Ansel Adams)

We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well—for we will not fight to save what we do not love.
(Jay Gould, evolutionary biologist)

Being that change

I read a recent National Geographic article (Feb. 2016) about the Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, a preserve of some 6 million acres, a breathtaking area that is visited by 500,000 people a year. In additional to the astonishing pictures that the magazine has always been noted for, the article itself, in my opinion, provides a glimpse of the land use conflicts, the views of wildlife and the natural world in general that is occurring throughout the country today.

They come here to snap a few pictures and get some bragging rights about being 50 feet from a grizzly. In the course of experiencing this natural drama, something clicks. They go away wanting to protect places like this.
(Park Superintendent Don Striker)

Regarding wolf culls and removal of Denali's buffer zones: It's the state standing up to an overreaching federal government and libtard environmentalists.
(Coke Wallace, trapper and hunting guide)

Don't feel like it, not in the mood

The Washington Post conducted a survey that attempted to find out why Americans do not vote. It turned out that the primary reason was because they were “to busy” or they “lacked” interest. Yeah, they weren't motivated to vote.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that only 41.9 percent of eligible voters voted in the 2014 congressional election, a record low. The percentage of voters increase during presidential years but is still only about 62 percent. Overall, Americans don't vote. Well, not exactly true. Those making over $150,000 manage to make the effort and do a little better. They want their benefits.

It's so hard

Agriculture is probably the one most environmentally destructive human activity we have established.

Instead of forcing nature to give us what we think we want, we ask nature what it is producing and then turn it in to something valuable and delicious to eat.
(Fred Kirschenmann, farmer and educator)

The following is a video worth watching. Even if you live in the middle of a city and have never seen a real farm, learn about your role in changing our food system in any way you can.

Not to worry, the climate changes slowly

Hm-m. Perhaps not. Even the climatologists were surprised. We just had, globally, the hottest winter ever. The month of February was really warm and, yes, the conclusion was that is was primarily caused by humans. But the good news, sort of, is that the latest Gallup poll determined that 41 percent of Americans now believe global warming will be a “serious threat” in their lifetimes.

Yes, climate change, it could mean more rain or less rain for different parts of the planet. Food supplies could be in jeopardy and don't count on industrial agriculture to keep your stomachs full. Of course, mosquito-borne diseases will likely increase, millions of people might attempt to migrate to other locations in search of food and jobs, and political instability … beware of political “guarantees.” The Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization said recently that, “The future is happening now.”

Improving the numbers

Interview with activist Tim DeChristophrer

Both facts and passion required

While these seven articles have been primarily focused on public lands, their history and wildlife in America, we could have created a laundry list of issues the United States will have to face one way or the other, likely sooner than many of us would like to think about.

The national park idea goes back to the early decades of the 19th century and some of its supporters included George Catlin, James Fenimore Cooper, Henry David Thoreau, Abraham Lincoln, Senator John Conners of California and many others. Areas were set aside as public lands and to protect the wildlife in the 19th century, but it was President Theodore Roosevelt, a man of supreme contradiction regarding the environment, at the turn of the 20th century, who got legislation passed to establish a national park system. It is arguably one of the finest examples of public policy that this country ever established.

There is a great deal we can all do; it is not obscure or requires years of specialized training. The first thing is knowing the basic actual facts and the basic actual history of public lands in the United States. Then we can begin to separate the truth from the myths regarding wildlife, along with all the “freedom” and “liberty” buffoonery that is uttered. We're now ready to make more and more people understand the importance of public space and public lands, their value and their legacy at both the state and national level.

Some people may be able to demonstrate why a person in Brooklyn, New York ought to care about a national sanctuary in an isolated corner of Oregon. Or, for that matter, a hiker in the American Southwest being able to grasp the importance of clean air in Detroit, Michigan. It's the connections that have to be established across the entire country to diverse groups of people.

Now we can talk about political corruption, the ignorance regarding wildlife, and the outdated mentality that sees nature as a mere commodity, to be bought and sold and with little regard for the consequences. The last basic step is that we must find, encourage and support individuals who will represent us and stand firm in defending public lands and wildlife. Then we go out and vote at every level all the time.

In 2016 we have an actual chance to be part of the change, a change that does not exclude nor destroy nor take a future away. The change is all of us, not some shining knight appearing over the horizon to make things better.

Additional Information

Knowing your opponents is important. Ultimately we have to know who they are at the national, state and local level. The following are some of the key players in the U.S. House of Representatives. Their goal is to starve public lands by taking away the funds to maintain them. Their real objective is to privatize all public lands and turn them over to corporate interests. Help end the political careers of the following members of Congress: Rep. Greg Walden, R-OR; Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-UT; Rep. Scott Tipton, R-CO; Rep. Steve Pearce, R-NM; Rep. Mark Amodei, R-NV; Rep. Cynthis Lummis, R-WY, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-ID



Climate Change:


The Politics:

Monday, March 21, 2016

It's where I live

Continue to contaminate your own bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.
(Chief Seattle, 1786-1866, Suqwamish and Duwamish)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Truth is clearly overrated among our kind (6)

After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.
(James G. Watt, Interior Secretary under President Ronald Reagan)

The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation—until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.
(President Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921)

A bunch of cowboys camping
(Michele Fiore, Nevada Assemblywoman, and self-appointed defender of white terrorists who occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon)

The short explanation continued

D. It's called the Wise Use doctrine (mentioned in “The problem with America is...”) and has been around for some 30 years. It's anything but “wise.” It is part and parcel of Libertarian philosophy. The central tenant is that private ownership is always better than public ownership.

The white terrorists who occupied the Malheur Refuge claimed that they believed in the Wise Use doctrine. The livestock industry, oil and gas and various developers will often profess to be supporters of Wise Use, but it would not be overly cynical to think that philosophical doctrine is not what guides many of these bottom feeders.

For the Wise Use true believer, land is worth only what people will pay for it. If you can't make a buck in some way it has no value. The private market by its very nature exists to commodify natural resources and turn them into consumer goods. Most important, it attempts to externalize expenses.

By some estimates, if the world's largest corporations were actually responsible for their costs of pollution and other damages to the environment, something like one-third of their profits would disappear. Another study estimated that the combined world damage to the environment in 2008 was something like $22 trillion!

Land management in the U.S. is important and in need of intelligent changes and modifications that reflects a 21st century reality, but the Wise Use movement is largely another dreary American hustle that has the stench of the 19th century and the Gilded Age. A number of years ago I wrote a series of articles about one of America's best scams, entitled America's Turf Terror (I). Time to put a stake in the heart of the Wise Use scam.

E. Even though meat consumption in the United States has decreased, it is increasing in the developing world because of rising standards of living. It has been devastating to the planet's rainforests and wildlife.

If one were to take the agricultural business in general in the U.S., billions of dollars is subsidies go exclusively to corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, much of which ends up feeding animals. Western ranchers are one of the largest recipients of federal welfare programs. Something like $500 million in taxpayer money in 2014 went to ranchers getting below-market value leases to graze their cattle on public lands.

F. The Ammon Bundy gang that occupied the Oregon wildlife sanctuary this past January could end up costing the taxpayers several millions of dollars. These ignorant thugs, as we've learned, desecrated sacred Native American sites at Malheur, built roads through Paiute Indian grounds, and trenches dug adjacent to sacred ground contained human feces. So much for the professed respect.

Cliven Bundy, the patriarch of this family, whose ranch in Nevada adjoins thousands of acres of public lands, allows his cattle to graze wherever they wish. He lets them run wild until he decides to trap and kill one. He apparently does not vaccinate or treat his cattle for disease and seemingly does not manage or control breeding. Yup, we'll let Cliven Bundy be the poster child for privatization and welfare capitalism.

Oh yes, not discussed is the progress that could be lost between ranchers and environmentalists because of the occupation, possible revenue and job losses to the county and, last, the wildlife itself. The many birds arrive in the spring to breed. Much work still remains to be done in preparation for their arrival.

Which way to the Emerald City

Prohibition in the 1920s was probably one of the worst examples of public policy that the country ever implemented. But, like today, America was undergoing huge changes.

The W.A.S.P. establishment was losing political power, people were moving to urban areas, immigrants were becoming citizens, African-Americans were going north looking for a better life, women had the vote, and a great many Americans were simply frightened and angry at the speed of these changes.

A backlash occurred. The membership of the Ku Klux Klan grew enormously, especially in the north, religious fundamentalism attempted to push back against science and evolution and politicians railed against the “other.” “I want my country back,” and “it's the government's fault” were heard in the 1920s as well.

Yes, we Americans are mad at the present time, even if in some cases we can't actually explain who or what we're mad at. For many Americans, especially a large segment of white America, there is a sense that they've been duped and manipulated for generations. Well, they have. So what's the strategy?

Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth?
(Tecumseh, 1768-1813, Shawnee)


Monday, March 07, 2016

Truth is clearly overrated among our kind (5)

Climate change is real. It is the most urgent threat affecting our species. We need to work together and stop procrastinating.
(Leonardo DiCaprio, Oscar winner for best actor, The Revenant, 2016)

Indians and wolves are both beasts of prey, though they differ in shape.
(George Washington)

To the Great Plains Indians, nature was the center of our way of life. To whites, nature was the enemy to be conquered.
(Dr. Leo Killsback, citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Nation)

It ultimately matters a hell of a lot, regardless of whether or not you live in Ferguson, Missouri, rural Idaho or along the Connecticut “gold coast.” They're all connected even if for some it's difficult to grasp that connection. Of course, you don't have to frame it in terms of morality, stewardship of the Earth or the sacredness of all life on the planet, if you're uncomfortable or contemptuous with those terms.

One of the really good post-apocalyptic nightmares is The Road, a novel by Cormac McCarthy. We never really learn how it happened, how it all became the planet of the damned. If you are now of a certain age you will likely pass away remembering blue skies, chirping birds and the possibility of a living future. Your children, on the other hand, could start seeing both small and large occurrences. Now your grandchildren, well, do we really care about them? After all, we're dead.

The short explanation

A. A large number of countries in the world today have “protected areas.” The number of reserves on land amount to approximately 161,000. The number over marine waters globally is around 6,500. In 2015 this represented 15% of the Earth's land area and 2.8% of the planet's ocean area. Is this enough?

Edward O. Wilson, the renown biologist, believes it doesn't come close to being enough. In fact, he thinks one-half of the Earth's surface must be devoted to nature in order to save the life forms that compose it. One of the life forms is us. No it doesn't mean that one-half of Earth is to become a global sanctuary devoid of humans but it does mean that we must learn how to reduce our ecological footprint. Wilson thinks it is possible and believes it is through biology, nanotechnology and robotics that we can learn how.

Large plots of land connected to smaller plots contain more eco-systems and maintain them at sustainable levels. Smaller reserves reduce our diversity and thus our existence. Edward Wilson thinks there are still choices that we can make, but the crucial factor in the life and death of all species is the amount of habitable land we can maintain.

B. Although many still refuse to admit it, more and more of us now understand that we cannot take more out of the eco-system than we put in. The good news is that we're now beginning to be able to put a direct cash value on what has been called “natural capital,” that is what humans do not have to spend on services that nature supplies for free, such as water purification, crop pollination, coastal protection by wetlands, sand banks and reefs and groundwater.

We've heard, for example, about the importance of the honeybee, which in fact generates some $57 billion dollars annually in revenue. But few people probably know that the dung beetle generates some $380 million annually by getting rid of manure that would attract parasites.

The Ogallala Aquifer located in the Great Plains, covering some 8 states, is one of the largest aquifers in the world. Suffice it to say that groundwater depletion is occurring at faster rates and replenishment rates are relatively slow. In fact, the Ogallala provides freshwater for about one-fifth of the wheat, corn, cattle and cotton in the U.S. as well as across the globe.

Scientists can demonstrate that this aquifer could run dry as soon as 2040 if we don't make necessary changes … and we do know right now how to make a lot of these changes. If we wanted to keep the aquifer from going dry beyond 2070, we would have to initiate drastic changes, like a steep reduction in corn and cattle production—heavy users of water. Oh yes, the political decisions can be put off only so long.

C. What has been referred to as “Big Data” has helped us to measure Natural Capital. Computers have accelerated our ability to take action. We are able to measure and quantify huge amounts of data, discover patterns and understand how we humans are participants in a larger system. Yes, marketing people can learn what color boxes toothpaste users like best, but we are now able to decipher really important things that could help our planet survive.
Nearing the end and starting the beginning.


Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Truth is clearly overrated among our kind (4) An Addendum

The quite real global water crisis is likely to be the next reason that we humans will start killing each other. It relates directly to "Truth." The video is worth watching and then forcing changes. Where I live the dwindling ground water may, in the not too distant future, become a very big crisis.