Why do we need a new environmentalism?

Because the old one doesn’t work.

Says who?

Says Nature.

OK, how does Nature tell us environmentalism, old, new, or otherwise, doesn’t work?

She tells us in terms of results, because Nature doesn’t communicate with words. She communicates by means of results — the language that enables Nature to give us the most important message she can give us…

“That works.”
“That doesn’t work.”

That ‘s how we can check what Nature has to say about what we’re doing, by checking the results.

Are they good or bad?

Are they what we expected or not?

Are they what we’ve been promised or not?

Do they make things better or worse?

That’s the purpose of the comparative photos shown in this post. They communicate Nature’s verdict regarding which of the the various techniques by means of which we interact with (actually, play a role in) our natural environment work and which ones don’t work. They communicate Nature’s verdict by showing the results created by those techniques.


Click for a closer look.


Click for a closer look.

Consider the first comparison. These two very different photos present Nature’s works/doesn’t work verdict regarding two very different ways in which humans use or relate to the land. One of those “ways” involves using the land to produce food in the form of animals. The specific form of that use whose results are pictured here is cattle grazing or ranching. This could be characterized as a “new” use of the land — one that has happened only since western European peoples have come to the North America; however, it should be noted that for thousands of years before ranching came to the Western Hemisphere Native Americans herded and hunted animals such as deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and others in this same landscape, using some of the same techniques as modern ranchers.

The other manner of relating to the land included in this comparison is the technique of environmental protection . It is one the way we relate to Nature that we consider to be the most beneficial, sustainable, restorative, and, well… natural, so we don’t even really consider it to be a “use.” Some of us even refer to it as “non-use.”

Both of the above photos were shot on a piece of arid rangeland in central, Arizona. One is a photo of a U. S.D. A. Forest Service study plot that has been protected from all human use (predominantly grazing by cattle) for 66 years.

The other photo shows an area directly adjacent to that study plot which has continued to be grazed for that same 66 years plus as much as a hundred years prior.

Which is which?

The photo on the left illustrates the results of  66 years of protection on this location under these circumstances.

The photo on the right illustrates the results of humans using this same piece of land for at least the same amount of time for an activity that is widely considered to be environmentally destructive — livestock grazing.

What is nature trying to tell us here?

Let’s look at a few more comparisons.

LHP 1957 cropped 2.2 Little Horse Park 2013

The photo on the left shows a piece of rangeland near Sedona in 1957. It is being grazed as it has been for, probably, more than a hundred years (See the cows?). Soon after this photo was taken cattle were removed and the land became protected (in the 1960s). The photo on the right shows the very same piece of land in 2013 after more than 50 years of protection. Notice you can’t see Courthouse Butte on the right side of the “after” photo on the right. That’s because 3 feet of soil have been removed by erosion that has happened since the land has been protected. This lowered the photo point, shifting the angle of the perspective, and, combined with the fact that the trees have grown, caused the butte to be obscured in the latter photo.

What’s Nature trying to tell us here?

Here’s another message from Nature.

3. Dry Creek Allotment C5T1.19635

U. S. Forest Service monitoring site on the left — grazed for more than a hundred years. (Grass is short — recently grazed, very little bare dirt, no erosion.) On the right, same place  in 2013 after roughly 25 years of protection. (Cattle were removed around 1990.)

Nature’s verdict?

If Nature keeps telling us this, when are we going to listen?

The photo on the left, looking toward Bell Rock, was taken in 1921. Again, at this point, the land has been grazed for more than a hundred years. And again, the grass is short has been recently grazed and is short. There is very little bare dirt and no erosion. (You can click on the photo for a closer look. — I’m just learning how to make these photos close-up able, so some of them work better than others.)

And then look at the photo on the right. This photo was taken in 2012 in the same area as the location of the photo on the right. There’s Bell Rock again. This photo shows the results that have been achieved by a mere 22 years of protection.    Nature’s verdict?

BigPark.cropped Bell Rock Erosion wi man2

Come back again soon, the next post will deal with a new basis for environmentalism — one that works.

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On Rush Limbaugh’s program on 11/4/2015 he took issue, as he does almost every day, with the fact that “Republicans, RINOs, moderates, establishment types” refuse to campaign on social issues because they believe those issues offend and drive away moderates and are therefore a sure way to lose elections. Rush pointed out that the results of the off-year elections that were held yesterday across the country, and termed by the Washington Post: “Huge Victories for Conservatives… Coast to Coast ” serve as convincing evidence the above assumption is fatally mistaken.

To make his point Limbaugh revisited something he said on this program 27 years ago: “My contention is that the social issues are a giant winning opportunity… for somebody who knows how to do it.”

Well, the people who know how to do it are finally showing up in Kentucky and elsewhere.

To echo Rush’s insight and confidence and add to the turning tide on a different but related issue, I’d like to republish a couple of quotes from TheRightWayToBeGreen.com:


One downside to this conservative concession to liberals in environmental politics is that it amounts to an abandonment of the many conservatives who are concerned about the environment and would love to have a way to address those concerns without having to join an environmental (i. e., liberal) group…

Taking this missed opportunity to the height of irony is the fact that liberal environmentalism has suffered so many spectacular failures that it is vulnerable to the argument that has served conservatives so well on so many other issues, i. e., —

Liberalism doesn’t work to solve environmental problems in the same way it doesn’t work to solve problems of poverty, the economy, health care, race relations, you name it.

Add to this the fact that there are plenty of conservatives who have a better track record in solving environmental problems and achieving environmental goals than their much more well-publicized liberal competitors, and it makes perfectly good sense to say conservatives are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by not engaging liberals in a serious debate and competition for the environmental constituency.


From The Right Way To Be Green – published by Writers On The Range 2006

The main reason for my change of mind and heart (from an eco-radical to a conservative environmentalist) is the fact that I’ve become convinced the private-sector really is more effective than government at producing just about anything, healthy ecosystems included… More important, however, was the fact that, in thirty years of activism, the most impressive environmental successes I have encountered were achieved by private individuals operating according to principles that make up the conservative playbook. In each of those cases individual initiative, personal accountability, the free market, and rewards for results were more effective at saving endangered species, healing damaged ecosystems, even combating global warming than the government alternative—regulation and protection.

To complete the Limbaugh Echo: “My contention is that environmental issues are a giant winning opportunity for conservatives… for somebody who knows how to do it.”

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Most of the people who support designating 160,000 acres of the red rock landscape around Sedona, Arizona, as a national monument do so because they are convinced it is the best way to protect the amazing, beautiful, unique, naturally diverse character of this ecological wonder.

Here’s a big problem with that. Plenty of evidence suggests that, while this action would enhance the political fortunes of a number of politicians (local and otherwise), it would have an effect on the environment that is the exact opposite of what its supporters want.

What’s that?… It would devastate the very values those supporters claim they want to protect.

At this point, I want to make it clear that I don’t make this claim lightly, nor without background and experience to back it up. I’ve been active in environmental issues in Northern Arizona since I moved to this area in 1980. Shortly after arriving here I played a significant role in getting several roadless areas near Sedona designated as federally protected wilderness by serving as co-coordinator for the Sierra Club’s adopt-a-wilderness campaign for northern Arizona. That campaign helped put together legislation that was adopted by Congress as The Arizona Wilderness Act of 1984. In 1993, I received an award from the Sierra Club on the occasion of the club’s John Muir Centennial Celebration for my work protecting mountain lions and black bears here in Arizona. Around the same time, I joined with other environmentalists and a number of Arizona ranchers to form one of the first successful collaborative groups in the West. That group, known as 6-6 (for 6 of us and 6 of them), created an association within which people who usually consider ourselves adversaries worked together to solve issues that typically descend into endless contention.

The most significant part of all that is not that it adds to my credentials or gives me something to brag about, but that it taught me a very important lesson, a lesson that is quite the opposite of what I expected. It taught me that increasing the amount of government involvement, control, regulation, protection in an area usually increases its environmental problems rather than decreases them.

How did I make that discovery? By going back to areas that have been protected, in some cases for more than three quarters of a century, and observing (and photographing) the results of that assumedly beneficial action. Needless to say, when I relocated those areas, and saw the damage protection had caused, I was blown away, so blown away that I wrote two books about it (One was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.), and I’ve been traveling the West ever since, giving talks and showing “before and after” photos demonstrating the downside of what most of us consider the panacea for all that ails planet Earth — protection.

Most of you will be surprised to learn that some of the most mind-blowing of these “before and after” come from around Sedona because Red Rock Country, as far as I can tell, is one of the places within in the American West most radically impacted, in a negative way, by protection. Why? One of the processes by which protection negatively impacts an area is by causing desertification and erosion, and Sedona is obviously very susceptible to erosion.

For example, look at these “before and after” photographs: (Click on the photo for a closer view.)

3. Dry Creek Allotment C5T1.1963

1963 “multiple use”


Same place after 30+ years of “protection”

7. Left for Upload

30+ years of “protection:” Looking to the left over the same stake

8. Big Erosion 1 upload

Nearby: 30+ years of “protection”

Making this case — that protection can harm the environment — isn’t easy (even with photos such as the above). It isn’t easy because it flies in the face of an almost universal assumption within our society — that whatever is wrong with the environment has invariably been caused by humans (everything else is natural, right?). According to that assumption all we have to do to “right” virtually any environmental wrong is reduce or remove the impacts of humans and everything will be “restored to nature” or at least started on a healing journey in that direction.

This widely-held assumption traces back to environmental guiding lights such as John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club. Muir was a committed religious fundamentalist who believed that the way to make an environment right or natural or healthy was to re-enact the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. That is essentially what we do, to varying degrees, when we create a wilderness area, or a preserve… or a national monument.

Fortunately, there is another way of looking at the environment, one that works and doesn’t suffer the problems I’ve just described. In fact, it explains them. This way traces back to the space program and our dream of visiting other planets (Talk about an oddball way of learning about how the Earth works!) In the 1960s, in advance of sending a probe to Mars, NASA decided it might be good idea to know if there is any life there. So, they enlisted a number of scientists, including James Lovelock, an English chemist known for thinking out of the box, to come up with a way to tell if there is life on a planet without (or before) visiting it.

Lovelock noted that there are a number of characteristics of our own planet that cannot exist without being sustained in some way (or, in other words, by some thing). For example, there is no way our planet’s atmosphere could consist of 21% oxygen if left purely to the vagaries of chemistry. Oxygen is a very active gas which would quickly react itself into compounds with other chemicals if something wasn’t replacing and sustaining it. (Venus and Mars, for instance, contain 0.00 percent and 0.13 percent, respectively, of free oxygen.) Here on Earth, plants, both on land and sea, produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis, in other words, as a byproduct of living.

There are a number of other aspects of our planet that exemplify this same point. Consider the salinity of the oceans. In spite of the fact that every year millions of tons of mineral salts are eroded and dissolved from the Earth’s crust and carried by streams and rivers into the planet’s oceans, the salinity of those waters remains a surprisingly stable 3.4% and has for a very, very long time. Lovelock considered it no accident that this is exactly the salinity required for the continuing existence of the forms of life that inhabit the seas.

To make a long story short (you can read more on your own.) Lovelock hypothesized that living things on Earth create and sustain the conditions that make life possible, and they (we) do it by the mere act of living. Example? — Bees pollinate flowers as they feed on their nectar, which creates seeds, which create more plants, which create food for bees (and other creatures) along with the oxygen that bees and other creatures breath, which creates more bees and more other creatures, and more flowers, and…

Lovelock attached the name “Gaia” (the Greek name for the Earth Goddess) to this synergy, of which we have been a part for as long as we have existed. And as we hunted and herded and harvested and gathered as part of that system, we played an important role in sustaining the conditions that make life possible not only for us, but for everything else. Protecting the environment from humans performing those functions, therefore, does no favor for the environment, nor for us, nor for anything, really.

What does it do? Let’s go back to those photos a few paragraphs back…

What this tells me (and I hope it tells you, too) is that those of us who truly value the environmental health of this exceptional land in which we live should be opposing national monument designation for Sedona Red Rocks rather than supporting it.

And, as an alternative we might want to start asking ourselves a very important question…

Rather than asking what we can do to protect the Sedona eco-synergy from us, we might start asking what we can do to resume our role of sustaining Gaia?

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Climate Change – Pope Francis Needs To Re-Discover America (So Does Barry The Bummer)

During Pope Francis’ recent visit to the U. S., he made a big deal about climate change. He wasn’t the first pope to do so.

Way back in 1484 Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal bull (the Summis Desiderante), that dealt with “Climate Change.” Innocent’s “bull” proclaimed that witches were, among other things, responsible for the “Little Ice Age” that caused crop failures and food shortages in Europe from the 15th to the 19th century. Historians tell us Innocent’s “Witch Bull” gave indirect sanction to the holocaust of witchhunts that engulfed much of “the old world” for 4 centuries.

That’s right, the infamous “witch trials,” that wracked Europe from the 1400’s to 1800’s and even extended into the New World in Salem, in what is now Massachusetts, were, to a significant degree, about climate change. “Global cooling” was one of the main “crimes” for which a number of humans from 60,000 to estimates as high as millions (mostly women but a significant number of men, also) were hanged, burned at the stake, and tortured by a variety of other means.

There were plenty of similarities between those ancient witch-hunts and the 21st century version. One of the most instructive is the fact that “Climate Change Crusaders,” both then and now, seem more offended by people who deny the existence of their claimed crisis than by those they accuse of actually causing it. (oil frackers and coal miners, these days.) The reason is obvious. If your campaign strategy is “Never waste a serious crisis,” as it is for modern liberals (thanks, Rahm Emanuel), and was for 15th century witchhunters, the last thing you want is for someone to debunk your ticket to power. During the 15th and 16 th century, confessing guilt 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.

No wonder Republicans are so reluctant to mount an open opposition to this campaign.

How well are conservatives countering this rerun of those 15th century “witch hunts?” So far, not so well.  One reason might be that it isn’t the usual business of free market enterprise to counter crises trumped up to provide a means to political power. For another, the inconclusive nature of evidence that the Earth is actually warming works to the advantage of Climate Change Crusaders more than deniers.

How’s that?

If the Earth was truly getting warmer, oceans would be rising, cities would be flooding, crops would be failing, and, the realization that the best way to deal with any real problem is with individual initiative, private enterprise, and the free market would be popping into too many minds to deny.

Actually, that is exactly what happened during that earlier “climate change” fiasco, the Little Ice Age. Not surprisingly, back then there were people (as there are now) who know that the functional way to deal with a crisis is to solve it rather than use it to scam their way into power. These enterprising individuals could plainly see that burning witches wasn’t providing much of a remedy to those long cold winters with their crop failures and food shortages, so they started building ships and kicked off the maritime expansion of Europe. That created a boom in seaborne trading and colonial economies the benefits of which we enjoy even today — even while some of us are still trying to use witch hunts to campaign our way into power.

REDISCOVERING AMERICA: I didn’t realize this until the day after Columbus Day: Notice the date of Columbus’ “discovery” of America – 1492 – four years after Pope Innocent VIII’s “Witch Bull.” Columbus’ journey was part of the boom in seaborne trading that developed as a functional alternative to the witch hunts of the Little Ice Age. In other words the existence of America as we now know it, and the prosperity, private enterprise and free market it embodies, is evidence of what can happen if you skip the witch hunts and deal with the problem on a realistic, problem-solving, conservative basis.

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CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENTALISM : You Can’t Have Your Cake Unless You Eat it Too

Recently (10/14/2015), I registered the domain name “ConservativeEnvironmentalism.com.”
(Actually, I’ve been describing the content of  “theRightWayToBeGreen” as “conservative environmentalism” since its inception, and any web search for that category would have turned up this site as one of the top hits.)

In celebration of this event (registering “Conservative Environmentalism.com) I’m posting the introduction to one of my books — Gardeners of Eden, Rediscovering Our Importance To Nature because it describes the principles of this alternative to left-wing environmentalism so well.

If you’re wondering what that means, read on (and read some of the other posts as well.)

On Duel-ism; Living Like Bees, Beavers, and Wolves; Applying Alien Solutions to Earthly Problems; and Becoming Native Again 

The argument over how we should live in relation to the rural and remote lands of the American West hasn’t changed much in more than a century. John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club and father of the modern environmental movement, said in the late nineteenth century that we should reduce our impact on those lands as much as possible and preserve and protect all that we can. Most certainly, Muir and his followers insist, we should protect as much as possible of that which has remained relatively untainted by human alteration—the wilderness, the wildlands.

Others have maintained, on the other hand, that it is our right to use whatever we choose because God created it for us or merely because there is no good reason not to. Still others, the middle-of-the-roaders, say, “It would be nice if we could protect everything, but we’ve got to be realists….” They concede the high road to the preservationists but turn the dispute into a struggle of idealism versus realism, the moral versus the practical, small is beautiful versus more is better.

This fits right into our duelistic society of liberals versus conservatives, Republicans versus Democrats, and tree-huggers versus wise-users, and plays to our prejudice that the solution to all environmental problems is “victory for our side.” Within this us-versus-them scenario, a few try to achieve compromise or find a middle ground, but no one, or almost no one, asks if these are really the only two alternatives.

They aren’t. There is another alternative, one that is much less divisive and much more hopeful. There is a way to enrich the land as we use it; a way we can benefit the plants, animals, and ecosystems with which we share this planet as we benefit ourselves.

If this sounds too good to be true, or too close to violating the maxim that “You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” the message detailed within this book is more radical than that. The message you’ll read here is, “You can’t have your cake unless you eat it too.”

This is not news. Bees, beavers, wolves, and more plants and animals than there is time or room to list have been operating under this maxim for millennia. Bees pollinate flowers as they consume nectar and, in the process, create more plants and more flowers and, therefore, more food for more bees. Beavers eat willows and use them to construct dams which create ponds and enlarge meadows. That creates more habitat for more willows and more beavers. Wolves cull the sick and slow among the deer, keeping the herds genetically healthy so they prosper and continue to feed more wolves.

Until recently (for the first 99 percent of our existence), humans fit into nature in this same mutually beneficial way. As hunters and gatherers, as pastoralists, and even as small-scale farmers and gardeners we benefited the ecosystems of which we were a part in much the way beavers, bees and wolves do. Some of us still live in this naturally interdependent way.

A much larger and faster-growing percentage of us, however, get our food, fiber, and other products from nature via a system of extractive technologies more characteristic of aliens than of a mutually interdependent community of natives. We have developed this extractive technology for good reason, of course—it produces food, fiber, and other things we need in prodigious amounts, insulating us from the effects of drought and the other vagaries of less technological agriculture. But living as an alien has its downside, too. It threatens the breakdown of important ecological functions via global warming and the endangering of species. It erodes the connection between humans and nature as we turn our communities into a series of urban and suburban space stations surrounded by an “exploitosphere” from which we extract everything from food to recreation.

Some of us have become aware of the downside our alienation creates and have begun to try various means to counter it. Ironically, those countermeasures have been, for the most part, just as alien as the situation they were created to correct. Rather than restoring our old relationships with the ecos of which we were once an important part, these countermeasures have removed us even farther from it. To try to counter the effects of our alien technology, we have created ever larger preserves and protected areas, and removed ourselves and our impacts from them. Acting as if we’re trying to fool nature into thinking that we’re not here, we have behaved as aliens would. We treat this land outside our exploitosphere as if it were a combination art exhibit, zoo, cathedral, and adventure park. There we limit ourselves to roles as sightseers, worshipers, caretakers, and joyriders. Exacerbating the situation, we make our technological system ever more extractive, efficient, and detached in the mistaken belief that the way to heal the damage we do is to create less connection rather than more.

The problem with all this is that we humans were once a part, in some cases a very important part, of the very ecosystems we’re trying to restore by removing ourselves from them. This dooms us to trying to put back together an extremely complex puzzle with a very important piece missing—us. And, when we discover that this alien-style solution doesn’t work, we don’t relent, we just do it harder. We remove ourselves from ever larger pieces of nature (or at least we pretend to), and we create more and more stringent limits on our involvement in those areas from which we can’t remove ourselves.

And as we do all of this, we neglect the obvious truth that, if removing wolves or some other predator does harm to an ecosystem, if causing a species such as the red-legged frog or the tiger salamander to become extinct threatens the security of all other species, as some of us claim, then it stands to reason that removing humans who have played a more widespread, more impactive role must cause even greater problems.

In spite of this, hardly anyone, to my knowledge, is expressing concern about the removal of humans from the roles within the ecosystem that we have evolved to play, and that Nature has evolved to have us play. Nor is anyone conducting studies to determine what those roles were or what changes have occurred because we no longer fulfill them. Most important, perhaps, no one is trying to reintroduce humans into the environment to have us resume our duties as hunters, herders, gatherers, and whatever else, even though we’re going to great ends to restore animals that have played much less significant roles.

Sometimes I wonder what Earth’s ecosystems think has happened to the two-leggeds who once served them so well. Where did those beings go who once played such an important role as predators, foragers and cultivators? Have they vanished? Been abducted? Gone extinct? And then I wonder what those same ecosystems think of this new being which walks in their midst, which resembles the one that has disappeared in every way except that the new one keeps none of the old responsibilities, the old agreements. Is it an impostor? An alien body snatcher who has removed the old ones and taken their place? In a way, it is. Or rather, we are.

In fact, most of us know about as much about restoring a Martian ecosystem as we do an earthly one.

This book offers an alternative to living on Earth as aliens. It offers a way to become native once again, to reassume some of the responsibilities we evolved to uphold, at least as much as is possible in the context of a modern technological world. The stories that follow are about reintroducing humans into the environment in the same way that we might reintroduce an endangered subspecies of caribou or flycatcher or cactus. They make the point that this is as important in the case of humans as it is in the case of those other living things, and for the same reason—because, as we remove ourselves from those old mutualisms by acting as aliens, we leave as big a hole, if not a bigger one, than those other life forms have left.

That may set off your alarms in a couple of ways. “Ecosystems got along just fine before there were humans!” you may say. Or you might ask, “How could it be possible that humans are abandoning the planet when there are so many of us, and it’s so obvious that we’re overwhelming it?”

As for the first of those questions, it’s true that the earthly community got along fine before there were humans, just as it got along fine before there were bees and beavers and plenty of other things. But those pre-human communities were made up of different species than the one we evolved to be a part of. Those old communities and many of the species that comprised them are gone. The community of which humans evolved to be an important part is still here.

As for how I could say that humans are abandoning the planet while it seems so obvious that we are overrunning it, that brings us back to the alien/native distinction. It’s the people who are living as aliens who are overrunning the planet. Those who are living as natives are few and getting fewer. Some remain as holdouts from traditional ways of being. Others are the products of their own do-it-yourself reintroduction program.  Examples of both are the subject of this book.

Last, but not least, others have expressed concern that the claim that humans have been an essential part of nature, and can once again become so, is just a restatement of the old arrogance that our species has been granted dominion over nature. This arrogance, critics say, has been used to excuse all sorts of environmental profligacies. Humans have certainly done things to harm the environment, and the claim that we have dominion over nature has certainly been used as a means to excuse such harms, but the examples that follow in this book are not examples of domination, they are examples of mutualism and synergy. And while it may be accurate to level the charge of arrogance when humans are blinded by our claims of domination and do harm, that charge makes no sense when it is directed at humans playing roles we have evolved to play and that nature relies on us to play. We don’t call beavers arrogant when they create ponds that water meadows that grow cottonwoods that feed more beavers. Nor do we call bees greedy or exploitative when they consume nectar while they pollinate flowers to make more flowers to support more bees.

The purpose of this book is to dispel smoke rather than to create it. One way in which it achieves this purpose is by revealing an environmental smokescreen of which most of us are unaware, and behind which a whole class of environmental wrongs goes undetected. It also clears our environmental view by showing us how to restore feedback loops between humans and nature that have shriveled and ceased to function as a result of our adoption of an alien agriculture and a just as alien environmentalism.

Why should you listen to what I have to say about these things? I’m not a scientist, but I have been an environmental activist for thirty-one years. I started my activist journey fighting coal strip mines in southeastern Ohio. From there I moved west to Arizona where I worked to designate remote public lands as wilderness, fought to tighten the restrictions that governed what ranchers could do to protect their livestock from mountain lions and black bears, and helped initiate a campaign to ban uranium mining in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon. My involvement in that latter campaign included helping to put together some of the first demonstrations organized by Earth First!, one of the most radical of environmental groups. During this part of my environmental career I was designated one of the 100 top grass roots activists in the United States by the Sierra Club (in 1992).

More recently, I have been involved in putting together a collaborative, conflict resolution group involving ranchers and environmentalists that has been used as a model for other groups. I wrote a Pulitzer Prize-nominated book (Beyond the Rangeland Conflict, Toward a West That Works) about this experience and have been called on to give well over a hundred presentations about it around the West. Lately, I created an environmental organization named EcoResults! that secures grants to fund efforts by rural people to restore damaged lands and bring them back to environmental function. As part of my involvement in EcoResults! I’ve done my share of spreading seed and mulch, piling rocks in gullies, reading monitoring transects, and acting like a predator by herding animals.

My methods, in other words, have changed, but my values haven’t. I still value open country, wild land, wildlife, predators, and healthy ecosystems as much as I ever did, maybe more. Now, however, instead of trying to serve those values by demonstration, regulation, and litigation, I work with people who live on the land and ask it what it needs and respond when it answers.

Posted in Conservative Environmentalism, environmental politics, Green Conservatism, Holding Liberals Accountable, Natural Conservatism, Nature is Conservative, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Kaho'olawe 2

I don’t remember how I talked them into it, but about ten years ago a couple of government and non-government agencies helicoptered me to a remote island named Kaho’olawe off the coast of Maui, Hawaii. For 70+ years had been used as a bombing and shelling target by the U. S. military for training exercises, so much of it has become so barren I’ve compare photos of it to Mars in my presentations. Also, there remains a considerable amount of unexploded bombs and shells among the barren-ness. I was flown to the island because I had communicated to the U. S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly the Soil Conservation Service) that I was familiar with an ecological restoration method that could re-vegetate Kaho’olawe’s barren, bombed-out expanse to a condition appropriate for its intended future — restoration to the sovereign ownership of the native Hawaiian people. At the time the agencies and NGOs involved were in the initial stages of undertaking that project.

To make a long story short, we visited the island, I took a look at the challenge and some of the attempts made to deal with them, and returned home in Arizona to enlist the help of a man accomplished in the technique of using animals – cattle, sheep, goats – to transform huge toxic piles of mine tailings and other devastated areas into green and growing ecosystems. He put together a proposal to revegetate the island. We submitted it, and they turned it down.

Recently, a related topic came up in a conversation that inspired me to google “Kaho’olawe restoration” 12 years after my visit to see how well the project had worked out. The story and photos I encountered were so mind-blowing I had to share them.

The best way to tell you what I discovered is to show you. What follows was taken from Google “hits,” mostly from a series of articles published in a Hawaiian news source – “Honolulu Civil Beat.” I’ve condensed the most relevant quotes to make my re-report much shorter, but I’ve provided the URLs so you can visit the posts on your own and read the whole story. Most importantly, I’ve included two of the main photos from those articles. Wait till you see them…

The first article, dated October 20, 2014 by Anita Hofschneider, says the project is in trouble for a number of reasons.

Kahoolawe Civil Beat1

“(T)he Navy left unfinished its task of removing unexploded ordnance, the state agency’s trust fund for restoration work is running out of money. By next July, KIRC (Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission) will only have $1.2 million left, less than half of its current annual budget.

A scathing audit last year criticized the agency for spending $51 million but only completing 13 percent of its restoration project. The audit also drew attention to the fact that KIRC doesn’t know how much it will cost to completely restore Kahoolawe or how much time it will take.” (You can say that again.)

Scrolling down the page I ran into the photo at the top of this post which was used to illustrate what the government has achieved with its $51 million. This photo also served as the headliner for a second “Honolulu Civil Beat” article by Hofschneider dated: May 28, 2015. I’ve included that headline, photo, and caption below.

Kaho'olawe Civil Beat 2

$51 Million!! And this is what they show for it?!!

If you think that’s outrageous, a short distance down the “Google” page I found this item:

US Military Should Spend $1 Billion to Restore KahoolaweCivil Beatwww.civilbeat.com/…/scientists-say-u-s-military-should-spend-1-billion-to- restore-kahoolawe/‎
Jul 19, 2015

That recommendation, according to Hofschneider dated: May 28, 2015, was made by “Over 500 scientists from the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation in Honolulu (who) signed a declaration calling for “the full remediation and biocultural restoration of the island… urging the U.S. military to spend $1 billion to remove unexploded ordnance on Kahoolawe and restore its environment.”

$1 billion! That’s a lot of pallets!

Now that you’ve seen all that, I couldn’t resist adding a few photos of what the method I proposed to KIRC and the NRCS has achieved against conditions arguably as difficult.

First, we spread seeds and hay. (These can be spread by airplane.)

UnitedMetro before, spreading seeds

Then we add cows to till in the seeds and mulch. (Click on the photo you’ll see the cows.)


Below… Cows at work.





Results… all native grasses.

UnitedMetro After

Cost measured in thousands of dollars rather than $millions or billions.


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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.


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.





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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Ehrlich 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.


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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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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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