Thursday, September 6, 2012

Countdown To CAOmageddon: Flaw #35 - Stuck in the Past

This CAO series has included a mini-series about risk and another about functions and values. We will now embark on a discussion about the environmental movement itself, including its relationship to politics, where environmentalism almost has become a third rail. This is bad news, and most regrettably, it is bad news for environmentalism.

Popular perceptions are that the Right doesn't care about the environment while the Left is obsessed with it. Figures from the Pew Research Center support that view, showing increasing polarization of the Parties, with "environmentalism" being one of the most polarizing issues.

It wasn't always this way. While even the most partisan Democrat might acknowledge the conservation ethic of Republican Teddy Roosevelt, it might be harder for Democrats to recall that much of our current environmental regulatory framework was established during Republican administrations.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 were signed by Democratic Presidents, but they owe their existence in large part to Republican John Saylor, dubbed "St. John" by the environmentalists of his day. Richard Nixon signed several key environmental laws into effect including the National Environmental Policy Act (1969), creation of the EPA (1970), Clean Air Act Extension (1970), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1972), the Endangered Species Act (1973), and the Safe Drinking Water Act (1974). San Juan County's own Bill Ruckelshaus, Republican, banned DDT (based on a risk assessment, I might add) while serving as the first EPA Administrator. And Bush 41 strengthened the Clean Air Act in 1990 (Clean Air Act Amendments).

It's perhaps a measure of how far we've fallen that we now look back at the Nixon Administration as the good old days for environmental bipartisanship. What happened? I am sure many Democrats wonder how Republican views could have changed so drastically with respect to the environment? Well, that may not be the right question because it may not be so much that Republicans have changed, but that environmentalism hasn't.

Using nature as an analogy, the environmental movement has failed to evolve, and it may be going extinct as a result. It is highly endangered within its former Republican habitat, and despite apparent vitality among Democrats, it is not assured a viable future there either. One of the few leading conservationists with the backbone to talk about the problems of modern environmentalism is Peter Kareiva of the Nature Conservancy. This is what a recent article said about Kareiva and his organization. It is reminiscent of what we face on our CAOs.
"We love the horror story. We just love it. The environmental movement has loved it. That, I think, is ... [a] strategy failure. And it's actually not supported by science."
The average age of a conservancy member is 65. The average age of a new member is 62. Each year, those numbers creep upward. Only 5 percent of the group's 1 million members are younger than 40. Among the "conservation minded" -- basically, Americans who have tried recycling -- only 8 percent recognize the group. Inspiration doesn't cut it anymore. Love of nature is receding. The '60s aren't coming back.
It's a problem confronting all large conservation groups, including the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Quietly, these massive funds -- nicknamed the BINGOs, for "big nongovernmental organizations" -- have utterly revamped their missions, trumpeting conservation for the good it does people, rather than the other way around. "Biodiversity" is out; "clean air" is in.
"In fact, if anything, this is becoming the new orthodoxy," said Steve McCormick, the Nature Conservancy's former president. "It's widespread. Conservation International changed its mission, and it's one that Peter Kareiva could have crafted."
For these groups, it's a matter of survival. But for ecologists like Kareiva, it's science.
The County philosophy behind the rewrite of our CAOs is straight out of yesteryear, complete with horror stories, an absence of science, and an aging anti-people approach.


  1. The current EnviroFrenzy is really a semi-transparent cover for a rabid global social justice obsession. Just look at the dreck coming out of Rio, which states that the only way to solve Global Warming is to eliminate poverty by radically restructuring the total lifestyle of citizens in the global north and sending their wealth to the south. Enviro legislation is a tool for societal and economic control. New Urbanism, mass transit, Growth Management Acts, Agenda 21, Wildlands Projects, etc. All meant to heard people into Human Habitation Zones of unprecedented density with energy rationing, food rationing, lifestyle rationing, thought rationing. Much like the CAO on steroids!

  2. This article, backed up with the real scientific backbone of the senior scientist of the Nature Conservancy is saying that the cult of biodiversity is out. The old time cult of biodiversity had, and continues to have, the impossible vision and goal to separate humankind from nature.

    If you think about it, that is what "buffers" are really about.

    That just does not make sense, scientifically, morally, historically.

    And yet, that is precisely the intention of the Friends of the San Juans, whose current executive director comes from the infamous Center for Biological Diversity, one well funded scary outfit run by a kind of Jim Jones messianic crack-pot and a very large staff who are totally stuck in the past, ignore science and reality and seek any kind of authoritarian means they can to simply corral and control people. Its what they do. Its what the Friends does. Their strategies are discredited by the largest conservation conservation organizations in the country. Their notions of buffering islanders from nature should be seen for the political pollution it is, and cleaned up and tossed aside.

  3. Yes they may be stuck in the past but they are having great success implementing their "progressive" plans. Everything said in the first comment is true. It's time we realize what side of the political fence all of this horror is coming from. Only then can we begin to fight them back.

  4. If you look through old archives of the Journal of the San Juans, around the 40's or so you will find full page political ads for local state Senate candidates, as promoted by "Young Progressive Republican Businesses." Oh boy, have things changed.

  5. It seems like all aspects of life are sadly being drawn into the political realm. And it seems all politics are rooted in Socialism. Our founding fathers did their best to delay the onslaught. I wonder if America will wake up in time. Until then we will continue to move left in the long march.