CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENTALISM — PROTECTING THE WEST FROM ITS PROTECTORS (a re-post))

Dawa Both Hands Up

In 1980  when I first moved to the West, to Flagstaff, Arizona, one of the first things I did was become involved as an environmentalist and join the Sierra Club and, shortly thereafter, Earth First!. I was excited about my new home, about the mountains, canyons, rivers, and wide open spaces, and wanted to keep those things as spectacular, healthy, open and free as possible. At the time I arrived, one of the hottest environmental issues was grazing private livestock on public lands. Grazing livestock on land both public and private was claimed to be the most damaging activity humans had brought to the West. As one environmental group put it:

“The ecological costs of livestock grazing exceed that of any other western land use.”

Livestock grazing was blamed for endangering species, destroying vegetation, damaging wildlife habitats, disrupting natural processes, and wreaking ecological havoc on riparian areas, rivers, deserts, grasslands and forests alike.

What most caught my attention about this campaign against public lands grazing were the photos of denuded, eroded, cowturd-littered landscapes. Those photos served as one of the most effective tools for communicating the damage described above to those, like me, who were most likely to be concerned and recruited.

Here are a couple:

11. Public Lands Grazing Damage Hudak best 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrenched sharp

 

To make a long story short, I got involved, wrote a couple of books about the topic (actually about environmentalists and ranchers working together), and ended up enjoying a fairly rewarding speaking career about the topic.

Over time, the furor over public lands grazing has lost much of its intensity. Although grazing continues on public lands, it is highly regulated and significantly reduced. In fact, it has been totally removed from many areas where it had been standard operating procedure for more than a century. Also, Global Warming/Climate Change has replaced it (as well as a number of other issues) at the top of the eco-issues hit parade.

Living in Arizona, and remaining just as concerned about the mountains, canyons, rivers, and wide open spaces that have been my home now for 34 years, I have continued to keep track of the areas I made such a big deal about as a wilderness advocate and crusader for “healthy ecosystems.” As a result, I have something to report that may surprise you. It certainly surprised me.

The surprise is, the problems purportedly caused by grazing haven’t gone away even where grazing has. In fact, they have become worse, so much worse that a significant portion of Western rangelands may be in worse shape today than they were when the campaign to protect them was at its hottest. What is different, however, is that the responsibility for the deteriorated condition of the western range has shifted — reversed, in fact. Now it is protection and regulation and the advocates of those policies that are wreaking havoc on our natural heritage.

This is something you have to see to understand — and to believe.

Having noticed the poor and deteriorating condition of the rangelands near my home in Sedona and on trips as far afield as Big Bend National Park in Texas and Jasper National Park in Canada, I started taking photographs to confirm my concern. First, I took photos of the most eye-catching (and mind-blowing) examples of degradation on lands that are now “protected” but were grazed in the past. That ignited my curiosity, and inspired me to start ferreting out old photographs of those exact same places while they were being grazed. These I located via local U.S. Forest Service offices, museums, books, and the internet. I even copied some from old movies (An old Elvis movie — “Stay Away Joe” was one of my sources).

One of the first “before and after” comparisons that caught my eye is illustrated by the following pair of photos from along a favorite hiking trail near Sedona. The first photo (courtesy of the Sedona Heritage Museum) was taken on 12/29/1957. Grazing was ended on this site shortly after this photo was taken.

1.Little Horse Park 1957

The next photo shows the exact same place in 2012 after 55 years of protection from grazing. The mountain on the upper right in the first photo (Courthouse Butte) doesn’t show above the trees in the second photo because the trees are bigger, and the point where I took the re-photo is lower than the original photo point, according to my rough calculations, due to 3 to 4 feet of soil erosion.

Little Horse Park 2013

Next, I located some old U. S. Forest Service photos of old rangeland monitoring sites used to evaluate the effects of management (in this case grazing) on Forest Service lands. Here’s an example — a photo taken in 1963, also near Sedona, of an area that had been grazed for more than 50 years.

3. Dry Creek Allotment C5T1.1963

In 1963 the grass was short (most likely it had recently been grazed), but you can see the plants were close together, the coverage was fairy complete, and there was little evidence of erosion.

4.2

I even located a photo of a 3 foot square frame by means of which the plants in a certain part of the transect were identified, recorded, and mapped to enable the USFS to accurately read and record any change that happened.

Forty-nine years later (2012) I took a photo of that exact same site. I even relocated (and re-photoed) the frame. According to the best information I can find, grazing was removed from this area “before 1981,” so, at the time of the re-photo, the area had been protected for 30+ years. To shed a little more light on what is happening here, I included a photo of the land just to the left of the monitoring site. (That’s the same location stake.)

56. JPG

Interestingly, a U. S Forest Service Range staffer, upon visiting this site with me in 2013, and comparing what she saw with the 1963 photographs said, “Well, The grass looks healthier now than it did back then, except where there isn’t any.”

”Where there isn’t any” is just about everywhere. Here’s a photo showing a little broader perspective on the matter.

7. Left for Upload

To give a bigger picture of what’s happening here I’ve included three photos from nearby on the same grazing allotment.

8. Big Erosion 1 upload

That’s me. I’m 6’3”, and I can reach to 8 feet.

From the look of the exposed tree roots and freshly toppled trees it appears safe to say that erosion continues in this area in spite of the fact that it is being protected and has been for 30+ years. (I would also add it’s just as obvious that protection isn’t doing much to heal the area.)

Seeing devastation of this degree I couldn’t help but wonder: Were the effects of “overgrazing” anywhere near as bad as the effects of protection? To answer that question, I started searching the Web for those denuded, eroded, cowturd-littered images that were used to make the case against public lands grazing. I wanted to compare the effects of the activity whose “ecological costs exceed that of any other western land use” with the impacts of the remedy that was supposed to return the West to conditions the protectionists described as “pristine nature.”

This is where things really got surprising — the great majority of those “cows destroy the West” photos were mild, ho-hum, no big deal in comparison. Some even looked like positive impact photos.

Here’s the collection of images that resulted from one of those Google searches. 

11. Public Lands Grazing Damage Upload11. Public Lands Grazing Damage

When that collection of photos showed up on my computer screen I couldn’t help but wonder: Is this what so outraged me and recruited me thirty years ago? Is this the best they’ve got?

It must be, I concluded. These are the images that were published in books like Welfare Ranching, and Waste of the West, These are the photos that are on the websites of the groups still making the case to remove grazing from public lands.

So, If environmental groups were so concerned about the effects of grazing on public lands in this photo, for instance:

12. Hudak 1

From Mike Hudak’s Photo Gallery of Ranching on Western Public Lands “This drainage in a heavily grazed field has eroded to a width of five feet.”

Why do we not hear a peep from them about the apparently much more damaging effects of protection on public lands in, for instance, this photo?

13. Looking up Through Roots Upload

This drainage, in an area that has been protected from grazing for more than 30 years, has eroded to a depth of more than ten feet.

Another comparison — same question:

If environmental groups are concerned about the effects of grazing on public lands in this photo:

Entrenched sharp

From Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West — LIFEBLOOD OF THE WEST Riparian Zones, Biodiversity, and Degradation by Livestock, by J. Boone Kauffman, Ph.D “This stream in northern New Mexico has become “entrenched.” Over time, grazing and trampling of the soils and banks by livestock have caused the stream to widen and cut downward.”

What about this?

15. 2013Spring_WheatfieldExclosureUpload

Talk about entrenched!!! This is the Coconino National Forest White Hills Erosion Control Study Plot protected since 1935 (78 years and counting). (Photo courtesy of the Coconino National Forest)

 

What do these comparisons tell us? Well, one thing they seem to make clear is that, for those of us who are truly concerned about restoring and sustaining the ecological health of the rangelands of the American West, we’re spending our money and our energy in the wrong place. Instead of campaigning to protect the public lands of the West from grazing, we ought to be protecting them from, well, “protection,” which may qualify as the real “most damaging activity humans have brought to the West”

One thing that qualifies protection for this distinction is that the damage it causes is not only more severe, it is more permanent — more permanent because it is a one way street. Ask protectionist groups what they can or will do to heal the damage shown in the photo of me looking up through those protected tree roots or that fellow peering out from that huge eroded gully in the White Hills Study Plot, and the great majority of them will tell you, “Protect it longer.” One activist has told me, “It might take more than a lifetime.” The White Hills Study Plot has been protected for 78 years. That sounds like a lifetime to me.

I’ve written books (and articles for this magazine) about ranchers who have healed damage greater than anything shown among the “grazing destroys the West” photos by using their management practices and their animals as the means to perform that healing. In fact, I’ve done some of those restorations myself (I have some dynamite photos). Those restorations took days instead of lifetimes.

 

To their credit a few environmental groups and collaborative associations are using those grazing-to-heal techniques today. I suspect that, in some cases, they’re even using them to heal the effects of protection.

But to heal damage, you have to be able to see it, be aware that it is there, and you have to want to heal it.

Environmentalists have trouble seeing the damage they cause because they suffer from a type of blindness of which they have accused ranchers for as long as I’ve been involved in this issue.

Environmentalists accuse ranchers of being blind to the damage they cause to the land because they (ranchers) consider what they do (raise food for people by using resources they believe God gave us just for that purpose) so valuable and so righteous that they refuse to see, just plain ignore, or consider irrelevant the damage it causes.

This phenomenon — being rendered blind to the damage you cause by your own feelings of righteousness — is a more accurate description of an affliction that plagues the green side of the aisle. When environmentalists say, “We all want to protect the environment,” they use the word “protect” in its vague general sense: “to protect from hurt, injury, overuse, or whatever may cause or inflict harm.”

The idea that “protecting” in this sense could cause harm to anything doesn’t make any sense. How could saving something from harm cause it harm?

If you peel away this blindfold of righteous semantics, however, as the photographs in this article have done, it becomes evident that the ecological impacts of “protection” may actually “exceed that of any other western land use” including grazing.

The implications of this are clear… If environmental groups and government agencies truly want to achieve their stated mission — to protect the environment from whatever may cause or inflict harm — they’ll have to open their eyes to the damage caused by what they call “protection.”

And hold this environmentalist panacea as accountable as any other land management method.

 

XXX

 

 

Here’s an alternative final paragraph that is less functional but more fun:

 

The idea that “protecting” in this sense could cause harm doesn’t make any sense. How could saving something from harm cause it harm?

If you peel away this blindfold of righteous semantics, however, and consider the comparisons included in this article, it becomes apparent that the ecological impacts of “protection” may actually “exceed that of any other western land use” including grazing.

The implications of this are clear… If elements of the protection industry, (environmental groups and government agencies) want to truly achieve their stated mission — to protect the environment from whatever may cause or inflict harm — they’ll have to protect it from themselves.

 

 

 

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CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENTALISM MEANS KNOWING WHEN TO CELEBRATE

Ehrlich celebrating

PAUL EHRLICH — WHAT IS HE CELEBRATING?

Do you ever wonder why environmentalists are unhappy when an environmental disaster doesn’t happen? In 1988, Ted Danson predicted that we only had 10 years to live because the oceans were going to be dead and, if the oceans died, then we would all soon follow.

Danson’s deadline passed 17 years ago and the oceans didn’t die—not even close. We’re all still here, too. Have you heard anything about Mr. Danson holding any celebrations? Did he even express relief or say something like, “The oceans are still alive, and we are too, and, boy, am I glad?”

In Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book, “The Population Bomb,” Ehrlich claimed humanity was overpopulating at such a rate hundreds of millions of us would die of starvation during the 1970s and that by 1985, enough billions would have died that the Earth’s population would have shrunk to 1.5 billion.  By 1999, according to Ehrlich, the over-consuming United States would suffer such devastating environmental catastrophes that the life expectancy of its citizens would have dropped to 42 years, and its population would be a mere 22.6 million.

Instead, in 2015, the population of the world is more than seven billion and growing. The U.S. is home to 320 million people with more stampeding our borders to gain entry. Our GDP is still growing (albeit slowly), our life expectancy continues to rise, and we are plagued by obesity rather than starvation. To underscore how wrong Ehrlich was, many countries now are concerned about underpopulation rather than overpopulation. They are worrying that the “Ehrlich scare” birth rates are too low to produce the workers needed to keep their economies running (and to support all those seniors).

But do you ever hear Ehrlich or any liberal celebrating because the greatest disaster in the history of mankind, which they keep predicting in one form after another, didn’t happen? Not only did Ehrlich not celebrate, he still contends that he was right. So do most liberals. Now Mr. Population Bomb is predicting that overpopulation is going to get so bad and food so scarce those of us who survive are going to have to become cannibals to do so.

Better stock up on ketchup.

In 2009 and again in 2011, when a whistleblower uncovered emails revealing that the prediction that the globe will warm to the extent that 90 percent of humanity will be wiped out was based on manufactured data, did even a single liberal say “hallelujah” or even break into a smile?

Not a one.

Instead they became furious.

The New York Times refused to print what may be the best news humanity has ever received.

California Sen. Barbara Boxer tried to prosecute the person or persons responsible. How dare they debunk a perfectly good doomsday?

How could anyone not be happy to learn that 90 percent of the people on Earth aren’t going to die from global warming? What kind of monster must Paul Ehrlich and his devotees be that, when billions of people don’t starve to death, he doesn’t celebrate? How could anyone who cares as much about nature, as Mr. Danson claims he does, not be joyful when the oceans didn’t die as he predicted?

Let me put this in a more personal way. If you and nine members of your family and friends were told that an impending catastrophe was going to kill all but one of you, that this prediction was a sure thing backed by scientists and political leaders all over the world, and that it would happen by a certain date (“There’s no way we’re going to survive beyond…”), and then that purported doomsday came and went and you and all your loved ones didn’t die, what would you do? Wouldn’t you run leaping, shouting, and crying through the streets, hugging one another, kissing passersby and thanking whomever or whatever was responsible for your good fortune? Or would you sulk and become angry and try to think up another way to be convinced that nine out of ten of you were going to die?

Why is it that not a single liberal has celebrated when none of the doomsdays they have predicted—the ozone hole, the ice age, nuclear war, overpopulation, the extinction crisis, worldwide famine, any number of epidemics, running out of oil, coal, trees, whatever, the collapse of capitalism—came to pass?

How could this be possible? The answer, of course, is: It isn’t possible. No one, not even a liberal could be that callous or that stupid.

So, why don’t they celebrate? Because they know how phony their predictions of disaster are. That’s why all the global-warming believers in the Southwest haven’t moved to International Falls, Minn., to escape the heat. It’s why the Global Warming Believers (GWBs) in California still live as close as they can to the ocean even though they themselves predict it will rise catastrophically.

They ignore their own chicken-little predictions because they all know that the liberal practice of predicting doomsday in as many forms as they can dream up is nothing but a scam, a scam to get the rest of us to turn political power over to them — to let them tell us how many babies we can have, how long we can live, what kind of car we can drive, when and where we can drive it, how warm or cool we can set our thermostats, what we can eat and drink, what kind of light bulbs we can use, how much we can water our lawn, what kind of plants we can plant there, what we can teach our children, yes, even how many sheets of toilet paper we can use.

Now, that’s something they can celebrate.

MORE…

For Earth Day 2008, the Washington Policy Center issued a press release quoting the “outrageously alarmist, and outrageously wrong, predictions that accompanied the first Earth Day in 1970.”

Here are a few:

• “…civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”—Biologist George Wald, Harvard University, April 19, 1970

• By 1995, “…somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”—Sen. Gaylord Nelson, quoting Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, Look magazine, April 1970

• Because of increased dust, cloud cover and water vapor “…the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born.”—Newsweek magazine, Jan. 26, 1970

• The world will be “…11 degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”—Kenneth Watt, speaking at Swarthmore University, April 19, 1970

• “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.”—Biologist Barry Commoner, University of Washington, writing in the journal Environment, April 1970

• “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from the intolerable deteriorations and possible extinction.”—The New York Times editorial, April 20, 1970

• “By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.”—Life magazine, January 1970

• “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make.”—Paul Ehrlich, interview in Mademoiselle magazine, April 1970

• “…air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.”—Paul Ehrlich, interview in Mademoiselle magazine, April 1970

• Ehrlich also predicted that in 1973, 200,000 Americans would die from air pollution, and that by 1980 the life expectancy of Americans would be 42 years.

• “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”—Earth Day organizer Denis Hayes, The Living Wilderness, Spring 1970

• “By the year 2000…the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America and Australia, will be in famine.”—Peter Gunter, North Texas State University, The Living Wilderness, Spring 1970

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GLOBAL WARMING SEE FOR YOURSELF (worth re-posting)

What About Global Warming Drake

How much do cows and grazing really contribute to Global Warming? Some groups say they are the greatest contributors of all, creating even more carbon loading than all forms of transportation combined.

I like to find things out for myself, on the ground so to speak. So, rather than read a bunch of studies in which I have little to no faith, I decided to try a technique which, as far as I know, no one else has tried.

I decided not to measure carbon dioxide. I didn’t have any real way to do that, and I didn’t want to go around counting, collecting and measuring cow farts, so I decided to measure warming itself.

To do that, I went to the local hardware store and bought a device which can read the temperature of a surface — the soil surface, for instance — from as much as two feet away. Having thus equipped myself I headed for some central Arizona rangeland.

First, I went with a group of agency people – U. S. Forest Service, Arizona Game and Fish, Arizona State Lands, etc.— to monitor transects on a well-managed ranch, a ranch on which I’ve studied, rode horses, taken photographs, and even done ecosystem restorations for a number of years.

Below is a photo of the group “reading” one of those monitoring transects. While the monitoring team identified plants, counted them, measured their density, and recorded data, I took my new thermometer and took several readings. Because the area was almost entirely covered by grass (native grasses, I might add.), I took the most of my readings on areas of that sort. The reading illustrated along with the photo below (78°) is fairly representative. All of my readings were in the low to mid 80s and high 70s.

What About Global Warming Bar Heart

Next, while the rest of the team headed off to another transect, I went to visit one of my favorite counter-examples to the idea that land is healthiest if and where we protect it from the impacts of humans, especially from livestock grazing. This area is the U. S. Forest Service Drake Study area located not too far from Prescott, Arizona. The Drake has been protected from all human use (except study) since 1946. That’s a photo of the Drake Study Plot at the top of this post. So you don’t have to scroll back to the top, and for easy comparison, I’ll include another copy here:

What About Global Warming Drake

How effective a means of countering global warming is removing livestock grazing. In central Arizona, at least, it appears to increase global warming rather than counter it  by at least.  If you’ve spent much time on this blogsite, you’ve heard of the Drake before, and you’ve seen photographs of it. If that’s the case, you know what it looks like, and if not, well, here it is — bare as a parking lot. I know it surprises most of you to encounter a piece of land that is “protected” and, nevertheless, in this condition. It surprises virtually everyone I tell about it, but bare it is. Most people whom I tell about the Drake assume that it is bursting with growth when I tell them it has been protected from grazing for more than 65 years (68 and counting). I don’t intend to explain here why this is not the case, but if you want to know more about this apparent contradiction of environmentalist conventional wisdom just search the blogsite for “Drake,” and you’ll get the picture. Actually, you’ll get a lot of them.

Right here and now, I’m using the Drake purely to illustrate the fact that, in some cases at least, protecting the land contributes significantly more to planetary warming than grazing it (as much as 44° in this case).

I checked the temperature of several areas, both grassy and bare, that day and the temperature difference remained about what I’ve reported. I did find that green grass was a little cooler than grass that had completed its growth cycle and had begun to dry and turn yellow. This is significant because the majority of green grassy areas I found were on the well-managed ranchland.

What that all adds up to is areas that were grazed were consistently and significantly cooler than areas that were protected from grazing, as much as 44° (36%)cooler. What makes this even more significant is that the most effective way I know of turning bare and therefore hot areas into grassy and therefore cool areas is to use animals such as cattle to do so. I know this contradicts the conventional wisdom, which tells us that cattle make the land bare, therefore it has to be impossible for them to make it green and lush. For more on this check just about any (or all) of the other posts in this blog.

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THE GREAT CLIMATE CHANGE WITCH HUNT

Most likely you won’t be surprised to find out that the current flap over “climate change” isn’t the first time our society has been torn apart by a controversy over the weather and our alleged effect on it.

But I’ll bet you will be surprised to learn that one of the previous incarnations of this issue was one of the most infamous, shameful, and cruel episodes in human history…

That’s right, the infamous “witch hunts,” that wracked Europe from 1430 to 1650 and even extended into the New World in Salem, in what is now Massachusetts, were, to a significant degree, about climate change. One of the main “crimes” for which a number of humans estimated from 60,000 to more than a million (mostly women but a significant number of men, also) were hanged, burned at the stake, and tortured by a variety of other means (mostly in Europe) was “global cooling.”

In a (London) Telegraph article dated February 7th, 2012, “Big Issue” columnist Brendan O’Neill wrote, “One of the key mad beliefs behind witch-hunting in Europe between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries was the idea that these peculiar creatures had warped the weather, that they had caused “climate change.”

Christian Pfister, Director of Business, Social, and Environmental History at the University of Bern, Switzerland, added, in an interview quoted in the 22 June 2013 Swiss newspaper Basler Zeitung, “Today we estimate that from 1430 to 1650 in Europe 60,000 women were executed as witches, not only because of, but most often because of weather-sorcery.”

Historian Emily Oster, in Witchcraft, Weather and Economic Growth in Renaissance Europe, writes that, “The most active period of the witchcraft trials (in sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe) coincides with a period of lower than average temperature known to climatologists as the ‘little ice age’.” “Witches” were targeted for blame, Oster argues, because… the culture at that time both allowed their persecution and “suggested that they could control the weather.”

So, are there any similarities between those ancient climate change witch-hunts and the ones we’re conducting today?

You bet!

The most obvious similarity is they both embody the assumption that the way to solve a problem is via blame and vilification. The 15th century version didn’t have Republicans or Tea Partiers to blame so they settled on witches. Today, we do have Republicans and Tea Partiers to blame not only for weather change, but also for racism, poverty, income and wealth inequality, endangered species, Radical Islam and their beheadings, overpopulation, the War on Women, Occupy Wall Street, etc., etc, etc…

How well is that working? About as well as it did the first time — in the 1500s. For confirmation check The War on Poverty and the War on Racism. As you check the War on Racism and encounter those photos of people standing in front of the burning buildings in Ferguson, think about how much those images resemble the paintings of people holding their torches and pitchforks backlit by burning (I don’t even want to say what) during those earlier witch hunts.

Has anyone suggested climate change “deniers” be burned at the stake? Well… recently, there has been a huge flap on the web about an article about “climate change”  “deniers” published in “The Guardian” that, according to Breitbart News, was illustrated with a photo of a severed head. The Guardian article, elicited a number of comments including one which was traced to another Guardian author and Greenpeace activist using the name “Bluecloud” that included numerous references to beheading so-called “deniers” including the subject of the article — UK House of Lords member Matt Ridley (who describes himself as a Climate Change “Lukewarmer).”

When I went to the Guardian website I didn’t find the severed head photo, nor could I find the comment from Bluecloud. Instead I found a photo of people costumed as “zombies” and a reference comparing debunking climate change myths to killing zombie and complaining about how tiring it becomes having to kill and re-kill myths that never stay dead.

Further web research revealed that the Guardian had removed Bluecloud’s comment as well as info revealing his identity.

In various other articles writers have suggested that: “Climate Change Deniers” be subjected to Nuremberg-style trials, that firemen let deniers’ houses burn down (because those who deny climate change are willing to let our planet burn up); That deniers be executed. (Strangling them in their beds is one suggested method.) A New York Times cartoon even suggested stabbing deniers in the heart with icicles as justice for the deniers” claiming that the severe winter of 2013-2014 (which formed plenty of icicles) served as proof Global Warming was a hoax: A 2010 climate campaign video even shows a teacher blowing up students who didn’t sign on to cut their carbon footprints.

On a milder note, Well-known environmental activist Robert Kennedy, Jr., in his article “Jailing Climate Deniers,” argues that corporations and think tanks, which do not enjoy free speech protections reserved for individuals, “should be given the death penalty” (charter revocation) if they “deliberately, purposefully, maliciously and systematically sponsor climate lies.”

In a time when people being beheaded and burned alive has become de rigueur on the daily news, advocating beheading people or burning them at the stake, even if it is alleged to be “mere rhetoric,” makes me wonder where this is all headed.

This brings to mind another point of identity between those earlier witch-hunts and our contemporary versions — the fact that deniers attract the most venom from the blamers, more venom even than the alleged perpetrators of said crises. If your modus operandi is never waste a serious crisis (as it is for modern liberals — thanks, Rahm Emanuel), the last thing you want is for someone to debunk your crisis. During the 15th and 16 th century, confessing guilt as a witch and admitting that witchcraft was responsible for altering the weather could get you a reprieve and forgiveness.  Denying it could get you burned at the stake.

And we wonder why Republicans are so reluctant to mount an open opposition to these campaigns.

How can conservatives counter this…? Not very well, apparently. It isn’t the business of free market solutions to counter crises that are trumped up, imagined, or manufactured in order to provide a leg-up to political power. For example, the fact that no one can prove the Earth is actually warming aids Climate Changers more than deniers. If the Earth was truly getting warmer, oceans would be rising, cities would be flooding, crops would be failing, and, well, everyone knows that the best way to deal with any real problem is with capitalism, private enterprise, and the free market. If the globe actually were warming, quite likely most of us (including Climate Change Crusaders) would have to turn to a conservative, free market approach to actually solve the problems thus created, and the Crusaders would be put out of business, at least temporarily.

But not for long.

While free enterprise establishes its legitimacy by solving concrete problems, liberalism campaigns itself into positions of power by using problems that can’t be solved because they are trumped up, manufactured, or distorted to be immune to pre-emption by the free market and conservatives. Take the issue of race. Republicans are currently cast as villains in this issue and are even blamed for trying to recreate slavery in spite of the fact that a Republican (Lincoln) ended slavery in the U.S. and more Republicans than Democrats voted for the Civil Rights Bill. Also, Republicans, rather than Democrats, are the most functional supporters of Martin Luther King Jr’s dream that people should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. The free market judges people by what they do, what they are able to achieve, how hard they work, in other words, by the content of their character. These days that will get you classified as a racist.

Another example from the list of crises manipulated by liberals to serve as an excuse for a witch hunt is poverty. Democrats/liberals tell us that poverty and income inequality are created by capitalism and the producers within our economy, even though it is capitalism and free enterprise that has made us the wealthiest nation the world has ever known. The free market is thus ruled out as a source of solutions to poverty except to be parasitized and the wealth it creates confiscated and redistributed. If initiative and inventiveness are applied to solve the problem of poverty — to solve any problem — they must be applied in service to liberal prescriptions — renewable energy, wealth redistribution, reducing human impact. Otherwise they will be blamed for increasing human impact, climate change, causing the sky to fall.

In the meantime, blacks, poor and others who are willing to give up their right to realize the content of their character and rise to their full potential via their own initiative, creativity, and enterprise are indentured to the dole and required only to vote Democrat, raise a little hell, and conduct some witch hunts (to keep Republicans intimidated) to stay on the plantation.

The best way to counter climate change as far as I can see is to stop trying to debunk it with dueling thermometers and climate studies and reveal it for what it is, a Trojan Horse dressed up in a Chicken Little outfit and filled with an endless supply of witch hunters.

Posted in 1001 Ways to Debunk Global Warming, Climate Change deniers, Conservative Environmentalism, Conservative environmentalist, environmental politics, Green Conservatism, Holding Liberals Accountable | Leave a comment

GLOBAL WARMING, SEE FOR YOURSELF

What About Global Warming Drake

How much do cows and grazing really contribute to Global Warming? Some groups say they are the greatest contributors of all, creating even more carbon loading than all forms of transportation combined.

I like to find things out for myself, on the ground so to speak. So, rather than read a bunch of studies in which I have little to no faith, I decided to try a technique which, as far as I know, no one else has tried.

I decided not to measure carbon dioxide. I didn’t have any real way to do that, and I didn’t want to go around counting, collecting and measuring cow farts, so I decided to measure warming itself.

To do that, I went to the local hardware store and bought a device which can read the temperature of a surface — the soil surface, for instance — from as much as two feet away. Having thus equipped myself I headed for some central Arizona rangeland.

First, I went with a group of agency people – U. S. Forest Service, Arizona Game and Fish, Arizona State Lands, etc.— to monitor transects on a well-managed ranch, a ranch on which I’ve studied, rode horses, taken photographs, and even done ecosystem restorations for a number of years.

Below is a photo of the group “reading” one of those monitoring transects. While the monitoring team identified plants, counted them, measured their density, and recorded data, I took my new thermometer and took several readings. Because the area was almost entirely covered by grass (native grasses, I might add.), I took the most of my readings on areas of that sort. The reading illustrated along with the photo below (78°) is fairly representative. All of my readings were in the low to mid 80s and high 70s.

What About Global Warming Bar Heart

Next, while the rest of the team headed off to another transect, I went to visit one of my favorite counter-examples to the idea that land is healthiest if and where we protect it from the impacts of humans, especially from livestock grazing. This area is the U. S. Forest Service Drake Study area located not too far from Prescott, Arizona. The Drake has been protected from all human use (except study) since 1946. That’s a photo of the Drake Study Plot at the top of this post. So you don’t have to scroll back to the top, and for easy comparison, I’ll include another copy here:

What About Global Warming Drake

How effective a means of countering global warming is removing livestock grazing. In central Arizona, at least, it appears to increase global warming rather than counter it  by at least.  If you’ve spent much time on this blogsite, you’ve heard of the Drake before, and you’ve seen photographs of it. If that’s the case, you know what it looks like, and if not, well, here it is — bare as a parking lot. I know it surprises most of you to encounter a piece of land that is “protected” and, nevertheless, in this condition. It surprises virtually everyone I tell about it, but bare it is. Most people whom I tell about the Drake assume that it is bursting with growth when I tell them it has been protected from grazing for more than 65 years (68 and counting). I don’t intend to explain here why this is not the case, but if you want to know more about this apparent contradiction of environmentalist conventional wisdom just search the blogsite for “Drake,” and you’ll get the picture. Actually, you’ll get a lot of them.

Right here and now, I’m using the Drake purely to illustrate the fact that, in some cases at least, protecting the land contributes significantly more to planetary warming than grazing it (as much as 44° in this case).

I checked the temperature of several areas, both grassy and bare, that day and the temperature difference remained about what I’ve reported. I did find that green grass was a little cooler than grass that had completed its growth cycle and had begun to dry and turn yellow. This is significant because the majority of green grassy areas I found were on the well-managed ranchland.

What that all adds up to is areas that were grazed were consistently and significantly cooler than areas that were protected from grazing, as much as 44° (36%)cooler. What makes this even more significant is that the most effective way I know of turning bare and therefore hot areas into grassy and therefore cool areas is to use animals such as cattle to do so. I know this contradicts the conventional wisdom, which tells us that cattle make the land bare, therefore it has to be impossible for them to make it green and lush. For more on this check just about any (or all) of the other posts in this blog.

Posted in 1001 Ways to Debunk Global Warming, Conservative Environmentalism, Conservative environmentalist, environmental politics, Green Conservatism, Holding Liberals Accountable, Natural Conservatism, Nature is Conservative, Uncategorized, vegetarianism, with animals | Leave a comment

CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENTALISM – PARTNERING WITH ANIMALS to Heal Wildfire Damage

For a narrated video via YouTube click on the picture…

(To return to this website, hit your “back” arrow after the YouTube ends.)

Slide1

 

Posted in Conservative Environmentalism, Conservative environmentalist, environmental politics, Green Conservatism, Natural Conservatism, Nature is Conservative, vegetarianism, with animals | Leave a comment

PROTECTING THE WEST FROM ITS PROTECTORS

Dawa Both Hands Up

In 1980  when I first moved to the West, to Flagstaff, Arizona, one of the first things I did was become involved as an environmentalist and join the Sierra Club and, shortly thereafter, Earth First!. I was excited about my new home, about the mountains, canyons, rivers, and wide open spaces, and wanted to keep those things as spectacular, healthy, open and free as possible. At the time I arrived, one of the hottest environmental issues was grazing private livestock on public lands. Grazing livestock on land both public and private was claimed to be the most damaging activity humans had brought to the West. As one environmental group put it:

“The ecological costs of livestock grazing exceed that of any other western land use.”

Livestock grazing was blamed for endangering species, destroying vegetation, damaging wildlife habitats, disrupting natural processes, and wreaking ecological havoc on riparian areas, rivers, deserts, grasslands and forests alike.

What most caught my attention about this campaign against public lands grazing were the photos of denuded, eroded, cowturd-littered landscapes. Those photos served as one of the most effective tools for communicating the damage described above to those, like me, who were most likely to be concerned and recruited.

Here are a couple:

11. Public Lands Grazing Damage Hudak best 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrenched sharp

 

To make a long story short, I got involved, wrote a couple of books about the topic (actually about environmentalists and ranchers working together), and ended up enjoying a fairly rewarding speaking career about the topic.

Over time, the furor over public lands grazing has lost much of its intensity. Although grazing continues on public lands, it is highly regulated and significantly reduced. In fact, it has been totally removed from many areas where it had been standard operating procedure for more than a century. Also, Global Warming/Climate Change has replaced it (as well as a number of other issues) at the top of the eco-issues hit parade.

Living in Arizona, and remaining just as concerned about the mountains, canyons, rivers, and wide open spaces that have been my home now for 34 years, I have continued to keep track of the areas I made such a big deal about as a wilderness advocate and crusader for “healthy ecosystems.” As a result, I have something to report that may surprise you. It certainly surprised me.

The surprise is, the problems purportedly caused by grazing haven’t gone away even where grazing has. In fact, they have become worse, so much worse that a significant portion of Western rangelands may be in worse shape today than they were when the campaign to protect them was at its hottest. What is different, however, is that the responsibility for the deteriorated condition of the western range has shifted — reversed, in fact. Now it is protection and regulation and the advocates of those policies that are wreaking havoc on our natural heritage.

This is something you have to see to understand — and to believe.

Having noticed the poor and deteriorating condition of the rangelands near my home in Sedona and on trips as far afield as Big Bend National Park in Texas and Jasper National Park in Canada, I started taking photographs to confirm my concern. First, I took photos of the most eye-catching (and mind-blowing) examples of degradation on lands that are now “protected” but were grazed in the past. That ignited my curiosity, and inspired me to start ferreting out old photographs of those exact same places while they were being grazed. These I located via local U.S. Forest Service offices, museums, books, and the internet. I even copied some from old movies (An old Elvis movie — “Stay Away Joe” was one of my sources).

One of the first “before and after” comparisons that caught my eye is illustrated by the following pair of photos from along a favorite hiking trail near Sedona. The first photo (courtesy of the Sedona Heritage Museum) was taken on 12/29/1957. Grazing was ended on this site shortly after this photo was taken.

1.Little Horse Park 1957

The next photo shows the exact same place in 2012 after 55 years of protection from grazing. The mountain on the upper right in the first photo (Courthouse Butte) doesn’t show above the trees in the second photo because the trees are bigger, and the point where I took the re-photo is lower than the original photo point, according to my rough calculations, due to 3 to 4 feet of soil erosion.

Little Horse Park 2013

Next, I located some old U. S. Forest Service photos of old rangeland monitoring sites used to evaluate the effects of management (in this case grazing) on Forest Service lands. Here’s an example — a photo taken in 1963, also near Sedona, of an area that had been grazed for more than 50 years.

3. Dry Creek Allotment C5T1.1963

In 1963 the grass was short (most likely it had recently been grazed), but you can see the plants were close together, the coverage was fairy complete, and there was little evidence of erosion.

4.2

I even located a photo of a 3 foot square frame by means of which the plants in a certain part of the transect were identified, recorded, and mapped to enable the USFS to accurately read and record any change that happened.

Forty-nine years later (2012) I took a photo of that exact same site. I even relocated (and re-photoed) the frame. According to the best information I can find, grazing was removed from this area “before 1981,” so, at the time of the re-photo, the area had been protected for 30+ years. To shed a little more light on what is happening here, I included a photo of the land just to the left of the monitoring site. (That’s the same location stake.)

56. JPG

Interestingly, a U. S Forest Service Range staffer, upon visiting this site with me in 2013, and comparing what she saw with the 1963 photographs said, “Well, The grass looks healthier now than it did back then, except where there isn’t any.”

”Where there isn’t any” is just about everywhere. Here’s a photo showing a little broader perspective on the matter.

7. Left for Upload

To give a bigger picture of what’s happening here I’ve included three photos from nearby on the same grazing allotment.

8. Big Erosion 1 upload

That’s me. I’m 6’3”, and I can reach to 8 feet.

From the look of the exposed tree roots and freshly toppled trees it appears safe to say that erosion continues in this area in spite of the fact that it is being protected and has been for 30+ years. (I would also add it’s just as obvious that protection isn’t doing much to heal the area.)

Seeing devastation of this degree I couldn’t help but wonder: Were the effects of “overgrazing” anywhere near as bad as the effects of protection? To answer that question, I started searching the Web for those denuded, eroded, cowturd-littered images that were used to make the case against public lands grazing. I wanted to compare the effects of the activity whose “ecological costs exceed that of any other western land use” with the impacts of the remedy that was supposed to return the West to conditions the protectionists described as “pristine nature.”

This is where things really got surprising — the great majority of those “cows destroy the West” photos were mild, ho-hum, no big deal in comparison. Some even looked like positive impact photos.

Here’s the collection of images that resulted from one of those Google searches. 

11. Public Lands Grazing Damage Upload11. Public Lands Grazing Damage

When that collection of photos showed up on my computer screen I couldn’t help but wonder: Is this what so outraged me and recruited me thirty years ago? Is this the best they’ve got?

It must be, I concluded. These are the images that were published in books like Welfare Ranching, and Waste of the West, These are the photos that are on the websites of the groups still making the case to remove grazing from public lands.

So, If environmental groups were so concerned about the effects of grazing on public lands in this photo, for instance:

12. Hudak 1

From Mike Hudak’s Photo Gallery of Ranching on Western Public Lands “This drainage in a heavily grazed field has eroded to a width of five feet.”

Why do we not hear a peep from them about the apparently much more damaging effects of protection on public lands in, for instance, this photo?

13. Looking up Through Roots Upload

This drainage, in an area that has been protected from grazing for more than 30 years, has eroded to a depth of more than ten feet.

Another comparison — same question:

If environmental groups are concerned about the effects of grazing on public lands in this photo:

Entrenched sharp

From Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West — LIFEBLOOD OF THE WEST Riparian Zones, Biodiversity, and Degradation by Livestock, by J. Boone Kauffman, Ph.D “This stream in northern New Mexico has become “entrenched.” Over time, grazing and trampling of the soils and banks by livestock have caused the stream to widen and cut downward.”

What about this?

15. 2013Spring_WheatfieldExclosureUpload

Talk about entrenched!!! This is the Coconino National Forest White Hills Erosion Control Study Plot protected since 1935 (78 years and counting). (Photo courtesy of the Coconino National Forest)

 

What do these comparisons tell us? Well, one thing they seem to make clear is that, for those of us who are truly concerned about restoring and sustaining the ecological health of the rangelands of the American West, we’re spending our money and our energy in the wrong place. Instead of campaigning to protect the public lands of the West from grazing, we ought to be protecting them from, well, “protection,” which may qualify as the real “most damaging activity humans have brought to the West”

One thing that qualifies protection for this distinction is that the damage it causes is not only more severe, it is more permanent — more permanent because it is a one way street. Ask protectionist groups what they can or will do to heal the damage shown in the photo of me looking up through those protected tree roots or that fellow peering out from that huge eroded gully in the White Hills Study Plot, and the great majority of them will tell you, “Protect it longer.” One activist has told me, “It might take more than a lifetime.” The White Hills Study Plot has been protected for 78 years. That sounds like a lifetime to me.

I’ve written books (and articles for this magazine) about ranchers who have healed damage greater than anything shown among the “grazing destroys the West” photos by using their management practices and their animals as the means to perform that healing. In fact, I’ve done some of those restorations myself (I have some dynamite photos). Those restorations took days instead of lifetimes.

 

To their credit a few environmental groups and collaborative associations are using those grazing-to-heal techniques today. I suspect that, in some cases, they’re even using them to heal the effects of protection.

But to heal damage, you have to be able to see it, be aware that it is there, and you have to want to heal it.

Environmentalists have trouble seeing the damage they cause because they suffer from a type of blindness of which they have accused ranchers for as long as I’ve been involved in this issue.

Environmentalists accuse ranchers of being blind to the damage they cause to the land because they (ranchers) consider what they do (raise food for people by using resources they believe God gave us just for that purpose) so valuable and so righteous that they refuse to see, just plain ignore, or consider irrelevant the damage it causes.

This phenomenon — being rendered blind to the damage you cause by your own feelings of righteousness — is a more accurate description of an affliction that plagues the green side of the aisle. When environmentalists say, “We all want to protect the environment,” they use the word “protect” in its vague general sense: “to protect from hurt, injury, overuse, or whatever may cause or inflict harm.”

The idea that “protecting” in this sense could cause harm to anything doesn’t make any sense. How could saving something from harm cause it harm?

If you peel away this blindfold of righteous semantics, however, as the photographs in this article have done, it becomes evident that the ecological impacts of “protection” may actually “exceed that of any other western land use” including grazing.

The implications of this are clear… If environmental groups and government agencies truly want to achieve their stated mission — to protect the environment from whatever may cause or inflict harm — they’ll have to open their eyes to the damage caused by what they call “protection.”

And hold this environmentalist panacea as accountable as any other land management method.

 

XXX

 

 

Here’s an alternative final paragraph that is less functional but more fun:

 

The idea that “protecting” in this sense could cause harm doesn’t make any sense. How could saving something from harm cause it harm?

If you peel away this blindfold of righteous semantics, however, and consider the comparisons included in this article, it becomes apparent that the ecological impacts of “protection” may actually “exceed that of any other western land use” including grazing.

The implications of this are clear… If elements of the protection industry, (environmental groups and government agencies) want to truly achieve their stated mission — to protect the environment from whatever may cause or inflict harm — they’ll have to protect it from themselves.

 

 

 

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CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENTALISM IS REAL ENVIRONMENTALISM

The most effective way to repair damaged ecosystems, my experience and study has taught me, is for us humans to combine forces and energies with other animals (and plants, too) to work together and apply the processes that naturally create and sustain ecosystem health. This YouTube (my first successful effort at uploading one of my PowerPoint presentations) provides illustrations of successful applications of this natural collaboration.

I call this kind of environmentalism “conservative” because it is directed at and judges its success by creating a certain result rather than applying a liberal policy — “protection.” In fact one of the examples illustrated here deals with healing the damage caused by applying the liberal panacea of protection.

That, in my opinion, is Real Environmentalism…

Take a look…

YouTube Preview Image
Posted in Conservative Environmentalism, Conservative environmentalist, environmental politics, Green Conservatism, Holding Liberals Accountable, Liberalism Doesn't Work, Liberalism's Deepest Darkest Secrets, Natural Conservatism, Nature is Conservative, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENTALISM/LIBERAL ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE REAL DIFFERENCE

PROTECTED FOR 30+ YEARS

Words, words, words…

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Mark Levin and a long list of others dedicate thousands of hours of air time and millions of words to make the point that liberal policies don’t work; that they don’t solve the problems of the economy, race relations, international relations, etc.

Their case is only as good as they are articulate in making it.

There is one place, however, in which you can see liberalism’s failures exposed graphically in barren landscapes, catastrophic erosion, precipitous gullies, desertified grasslands, washed away soil, etc. That place is here, on the RightWayToBeGreen.com.

(Note: Since this is an unfolding story, I’ll be adding to it as time goes on and as I make new discoveries. In spite of that, the story will always begin at the beginning, but if you’re following it as it develops (and don’t want to have to search through the whole thing to find out where you left off) I have included search terms similar to chapter headings that you can use to go straight to more recent posts.)

One more note: many of the comparisons I present here use the technique of rephotography. What that means is, I locate an old photograph in one of a number of places — old movies, magazines, or books; museum collections; the files of the U. S. Forest Service or some other government agency; family collections, my own colletions (I’ve lived in the West and been involved in environmental issues since 1980) and then I relocate where that photo was taken and rephoto it as exactly as I can.

I’ll start off with one of the most startling examples of what this technique can reveal. The first photo in this comparison comes from the files of the Sedona Heritage Museum. It was taken by a local writer and photographer and shows cattle on an area from which they had been permanently banned about a year previous by order of the U. S. Forest Service. My suspicion is the writer knew cattle had been banned from this area and intended to use this photo to prove that a violation of the had occurred.

Below is her photo taken on 12/29/1957. Cattle are plainly visible. Note the condition of the land. There are trees and lots of grass. The land looks healthy. There is no indication of desertification nor of erosion. At this point the land had been grazed for more than 50 years.

1957 near Sedona Arizona, rangeland grazed for more than 50 years. (photo courtesy Sedona Heritage Museum)

Shortly after the above photo was taken grazing was effectively halted here. Fifty-six years later I reshot the photo. Here’s what the same place looks like after it had been “protected” for more than half a century.

2013 - Same location as above. protected for 55+ years. Photo by Dan Dagget

Notice the changes. First of all, the grass is gone. Second, the trees are bigger and there are more of them. Third, there has been significant erosion. For instance, the mountain on the right doesn’t extend above the ridge as far as it did in the original photo. In fact, you can barely see it through (rather than above) the trees. The reason, I believe, is that the point where I was standing when I shot the second photo is three feet lower than the original photo point because that much soil has eroded away.

At this point you may say, “Wait a minute! How could removing the cows cause all these negative effects? Environmentalists have been campaigning for years to remove cattle grazing from public lands because they claim doing so would reverse desertification and prevent  erosion.

Other changes have happened here. After ranching was stopped here, houses were built in the area. (The chimney of one is visible above the trees just left of center in the “after” photo.) Also, an area nearby has been made a U. S. Forest Service trailhead, and people now hike and bike through the area. A small power line has also been constructed through the area — to service the house. In fact, I was standing under the power line as I shot the “after” photo.

Where does that leave us? If protection causes the kind of ecosystem changes illustrated in these two pictures, the same thing must have happened in other ecologically similar places where similar management changes have been made.

REPHOTOING U. S. FOREST SERVICE MONITORING SITES.

The photo shown below was taken by the U. S. Forest Service as a monitoring tool to determine how human activity (in this case, cattle grazing) effects a certain area of the Coconino National Forest in central Arizona near my home town — Sedona.

Faye Canyon US Forest Service monitoring site (near Sedona, Arizona) 1958

Since 1958 (the date of this photo) this same site has been periodically re-photographed, and certain data (plant species, density, and condition) have been recorded.

This is the same place in 1974.

Faye Canyon US Forest Service monitoring site (near Sedona, Arizona) 1974

Here it is in 1979… About this time (in 1977) grazing was effectively halted on this USFS grazing allotment.

Faye Canyon US Forest Service monitoring site (near Sedona, Arizona) 1979

In 1988…

Faye Canyon US Forest Service monitoring site (near Sedona, Arizona) 1988

Here it is today, in 2013. Notice the changes. The trees have gotten bigger. There are more of them. There is less grass, more bare dirt, and erosion is accelerating.

Faye Canyon US Forest Service monitoring site (near Sedona, Arizona) 2013

The change is revealed more effectively if you take a look beyond those trees.

Faye Canyon US Forest Service monitoring site (near Sedona, Arizona) 2013 beyond the trees.

Here it is easy to see that there is a lot less grass, a lot more bare dirt, and much, much more erosion. Scroll back up and see what it used to look like.

This land has effectively been “protected,” for more than thirty years. According to liberal environmentalist dogma it should be returning to ecological health instead of  turning into desert. What has happened here and what can we learn from it?

Stay tuned.

 

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ENVIRONMENTALISM AS FUNDAMENTALISM (THE LIBERAL CHURCH AS STATE)

First published on American Thinker:

http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/12/environmentalism_as_fundamentalism.html

Most environmentalists I know consider themselves non-religious, even anti-religious. A few subscribe to “new” religious denominations such as Unitarianism, which I have heard described as “church for atheists with children.” None, as far as I know, would take kindly to being described as practitioners of fundamentalist, Bible-thumping, “ol’ time religion”.

The irony, here, is that contemporary environmentalism and fundamentalist religion have so much in common.

Take the most basic assumption of contemporary environmentalist doctrine. Individual environmentalists and environmental organizations, alike, hold that the one and only way to solve the problems they address is to “protect” the environment. Who they would protect it from, of course, is us, based on the further assumption that everything that goes wrong with the environment — desertification, species extinction, invasion by non-native plants, etc. — is the result of human misuse or overuse or just plain use of “nature” or the ecosystem, or whatever you choose to call our surroundings.

This assumption has become so all-encompassing that we now even blame ourselves for occurrences we used to call “natural” disasters.. Hurricanes are our fault (a result of Global Warming). Weather too hot — our fault. Too cold — ditto. There are even plenty of people who say earthquakes and tsunamis are our fault; also caused somehow by Climate Change.

Such a line of reasoning leads inevitably to the conclusion that the only way to solve any and all environmental problems is to somehow get us humans to use less, produce less, and reproduce less. So, at environmentalists’ behest our government creates such things as wilderness areas and nature preserves, on the theory that nature-left-alone will heal its human-caused wounds and help sustain at least a part of the planetary life-support system. In some countries, Canada, for instance, there are areas into which humans are forbidden to even set foot. More radical environmental groups, such as Earth First! (which I played a small part in helping to form) are pushing for similar measures in the U. S.

You’re not paying attention if you haven’t recognized this as simply a rerun of the biblical story of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.

This congruence of environmentalism and fundamentalism isn’t a coincidence. It can be traced to the fact that John Muir, “the spiritual father of the environmental movement” who founded the Sierra Club, the first environmental group, was a Calvinist. Calvinists, who first coined the word “fundamentalist” to describe themselves, held that the original sin for which humans were punished by expulsion from Eden, is a defining characteristic of what it means to be “human.”

As a good Calvinist/fundamentalist/environmentalist, Muir was a frothing misanthrope, referring to humans as “the Lord Man” and writing, “Man is always and everywhere a blight on the landscape.”

So, as modern day green fundamentalists engage in a ritual re-creation of the expulsion of “the Lord Man” from Eden, one could make the case that they are indulging in a religious exercise rather than applying a practical effort to solve environmental problems.

Using an approach derived from fundamentalist  religion to deal with real world problems (and there are plenty of environmental problems that are real and serious) has a huge downside. First, it dooms us to deal with practical problems with an approach that treats them as invariably a matter of good versus evil, of “us” (the righteous Earth Savers) against “them,” the heretics and devils (Global Warming Deniers, capitalists, one percenters, Republicans,…)

Because this makes those issues a matter of winning and of defeating devils rather than solving problems, we spend more time proselytizing, evangelizing, and battling in the arena of politics than we do learning to live sustainably within our surroundings. Evidence that this is the case is provided by the fact that environmentalists measure their success in terms that really have nothing to do with the ecological problems they supposedly set out to fix. Among those terms are:

• the number of converts (members, supporters, and devotees) groups are able to evangelize, and the amount of contributions they are thus able to attract

• the extent to which they are able to convince the rest of us to blame the villains, demons, devils, satans, they blame — capitalists, free enterprisers, private land managers, meat eaters, the 5 % of the world’s population who live in the U. S. and use 25% of the world’s resource, and…

• the extent to which they are able to inject their doctrines, prejudices, and policies into the rules by which our society operates.

Does this approach of using religious-style rituals, exorcisms, and crusades work to make the environment any better, healthier, more sustaining?

To true believers that question doesn’t even make sense.

Religious truth is a matter of faith. It can’t be falsified by experience or fact. Can you prove via experience, facts, or science that God didn’t make little green apples, that Buddha wasn’t truly enlightened, or that Islam isn’t the religion of peace?

In the same way, and for the same reasons, it is just as impossible to debunk the charge that we are the cause of global warming, climate change, species extinction, or whatever.

This is why using environmentalist dogma to guide the creation of legislation and regulation violates the separation of church and state. It is also why doing so can lead us to results that are just the opposite of what we intend. If environmental policies can’t be proved wrong by experience, facts, or science, there is no way to prove that they don’t work, even when their results are absolutely disastrous.

This fatal flaw isn’t limited to environmental policies, it extends throughout liberalism. The reason it is impossible to prove (at least to liberals) that wealth redistribution doesn’t solve the problem of poverty, no matter how much poverty rates increase under those policies, or that Obamacare doesn’t create the best health care system possible, no matter how much rates increase or how many people end up without insurance as a result of those policies, is because liberalism, as well as its offspring, environmentalism, is a matter of blind faith, not reason.

 

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