Category Archives: Anthropocene

More public hurt from welfare ranching . . .

What to do about the Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s imperial control over federal land-use policy in the West?

From an essay by Christopher Ketchum in The American Prospect comes some acute observations about the power abuse in the face of common sense and at the expense of the public and the land:

“It’s almost a matter of religiosity that the real costs of ranching are paid for by the public,” says Brian Ertz, media director with the Western Watersheds Project. “Democratic and Republican congresspersons alike make their way up through political environments of extreme livestock–culture-dominated political organizations. The statehouses are dominated by livestock interests, and that’s where the federal representatives cut their teeth.”

The Cattlemen spend $2 billion to $3 billion is spent each year in state, federal, and county subsidies to support the survival of ranching on more than 250 million acres of land managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.  With that money they have purchased their own predator extermination government agency, the federally funded wolf-killing unit, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) called Wildlife Services.  Between the loss of predators and the damage done by grazing, they are slowly turning the West to dust:

The loss of “apex consumers” from ecosystems, says the report, “may be humankind’s most pervasive influence on nature.”

Ranching, by contrast, is considered one of the top causes of desertification, deforestation, and species extinction in the American West. An estimated 80 percent of the streams and riparian ecosystems in the West have been damaged by livestock grazing.

Even under a Democrat President, the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, a Colorado Democrat, comes from a family of five generations of ranchers.  The public needs to put up a little more fuss about the management of their land by a destructive, subsidized, narrow special interest.  We hope to provide some leadership at THP.

 

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The Plateau as Canary

I like this idea of Kirk Johnson’s of the Green blog at the New York Times. The fragile Colorado Plateau acting as canary in the coal mine. It doesn’t take a dust storm in Arizona to notice that the air is always hazier on the Plateau than it was even 10 years ago. So few people live on the Plateau that man made haze here is a sign of illness elsewhere. …more>>

Conservative idea, temporarily disavowed.

Conservatives originally proposed that markets could help correct mans impact on the environment.  Just get the cost of environmental degradation included in the cost of production.  According to Steve Zwick at Forbes, the idea had some traction until the whole conservative movement “went collectively insane.”  . . . more>>

Earth’s Great Omninvore

I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that the planet now has 7 billion people alive on it, all at the same time.  I think just knowing the fact makes it seem more crowded.  We are up from 6 billion souls in just 12 years.  I wrote earlier about the latest epoch becoming known as the Anthropocene, the age of man.    Here, Wired magazine has an essay with some jaw dropping perspectives to help make sense of 7 billion.  . . . more>>

You can “see” more clearly from up there.

In my last blog I noted how the air is almost always hazy in the West these days, even in open space hundreds of miles away from urban areas.  One of the reasons I notice this is that I am a private pilot and and you notice haze more from up there.  The Grand Canyon Trust just posted a piece on a pilots group out of Aspen that takes advantage of their general aviation planes to show  the conservation issues facing national parks in the Southwest to folks, particularly students, from the air.  Cool.  It’s part of  what is called EcoFlight’s Flight Across America. . . more>>

Have you noticed that it is almost always hazy?

I was at a star gazing party in southern Utah recently and met a businessman my age as he showed me around his telescope setup.  As we got to know each other it turned out this guy, who seemed otherwise a lot like me, was a climate change denier.  He told me his reasons and I listened.  He was pretty sure of himself.  The only notion that seemed to set him back was the observation that the air around Capitol Reef National Park, air that used to be so clear there were view point signs touting it (150 miles visibility used to be), is now almost always hazy.  He had noticed that too.  Here, William Anderson, chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes in southeastern Nevada, talks about the external cost of air pollution and benefits of clean air, that is the externalities that don’t show up on a balance sheet or income statement but are real none the less, in this concise entry from Writers on the Range. . .more>>

Value of wilderness debate: Wilderness wins 9:1

I found this debate in The Economist to be a terrific, brainy way to get a review of how we got to where we are today on our sense of the value of wilderness.  The best points I thought were made by “featured guest” contributors that centered on the relatively poor results environmentalists achieve when they take a no compromise position.    Michael Shellenberger & Ted Nordhaus make the lucid point that,

Ignoring those questions (of how to manage development), and engaging in romantic visions that such a world can be sustained through small-is-beautiful projects, imperils the effort to produce a beautiful and healthy planet more than any corporation or government.

It is surprising to me that readers of  The Economist would be so profoundly in favor of the notion that:

This house believes that untouched wildernesses have a value beyond the resources and other utility that can be extracted from them.

. . . more>>