Reflections in the wake of Earth Day 2012.
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Emma Marris also rejects the idea of a balance of nature as an equilibrium tending toward a steady state. She quotes Botkin, who stated: “If you ask an ecologist if nature never changes, he will almost always say no. But if you ask that same ecologist to design a policy, it is almost always a balance-of-nature policy” — preserve rare species, maintain this habitat structure, freeze in time this ecological moment, return this degraded land to a particular state regardless of weather or invasive species.
“Give up romantic notions of a stable Eden, be honest about goals and costs, keep land from mindless development and try just about everything,” argues Marris.
Like shooting more deer. Yes, even the national Park Service (NPS), which manages Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park, is resorting to sniper fire by government sharpshooters equipped with night-vision goggles and silencers to control this universally acknowledged threat to healthy forests, vegetation, and biodiversity. NPS’s new deer management plan calls for killing 80 percent of the white-tailed deer, or more than 300 animals living in the area, over a three-year period. Bambi, you’ve been warned.
The 2,820 acre park has 80 deer per square mile. Its forest and trees will be decimated in a few years. Right now cars are the only predators out there, killing more than 40 deer each year. “The deer are grazing on all our new regrowth,” said Nick Bartolomeo, the park’s chief ranger. “The forest can’t regenerate.” The plan is to reduce the population to 15 or 20 animals per square mile.
Meat from the dead deer will be given to local food banks and homeless shelters.
This debate over nature and humans has flared up, ferociously, early this year in the Breakthrough Journal with top scientists from the Nature Conservancy criticizing other mainstream conservationists or preservationists for failing to account for the role of humans in ecosystems. Vigorous rebuttals have been lodged by several others, including the head of the Center for Biological Diversity.
“By its own measures, conservation is failing,” opine the TNC scientists. And there is this: “Conservation’s binaries — growth or nature, prosperity or biodiversity — have marginalized it in a world that will soon add at least two billion people.” These are fighting words in some quarters.
As in past years, the observance of Earth Day 2012 provides this writer with another chance to showcase examples of human beings improving or restoring the natural world and environment.
Recently, I offered TAS readers an update on the phenomenal growth of the private land trust movement, private philanthropy in service of protecting landscapes, watersheds, agriculture and aesthetics. In Michigan, a state that has suffered so much during the economic downturn, a coalition of land trusts, the Heart of the Lakes, protected nearly 40,000 acres just in 2010 for a grand total of 548,318 acres through voluntary conservation easements. This is typical of what is happening all around the country.
In my wife’s home state of Wisconsin, state fisheries managers, and a supportive public, have worked for decades on a project to protect and expand the range of a prehistoric animal that survived the dinosaurs but barely escaped man.
The bottom-dwelling lake sturgeon first appeared 100 million years ago, as the dinosaur exited stage left. “Whatever killed the dinosaurs didn’t kill the sturgeon,” says Ron Burch of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
A lake sturgeon looks, well, prehistoric with boney plates instead of scales, a flexible rod (“notochord”) instead of a backbone, a long snout and tubular mouth with no teeth. It uses its hanging barbels as feelers to detect snails, insects, leeches, crayfish and small clams which they consume. It is a massive animal and long-lived.
An 82-year-old sturgeon was caught in Lake Winnebago in 1953.
This month, on April 10, a sturgeon 7 feet, four inches in length, weighing 240 pounds was captured on the Wolf River-Winnebago System at the Shawano Paper Mill Dam in a spawning assessment operation to harvest her eggs. She would have been 30 pounds heavier before the eggs were taken. This was the largest lake sturgeon ever captured since 1950. The DNR estimates that she was born in 1887.
Lake sturgeon used to thrive throughout the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basin. Native Americans revered the great fish. Overharvesting, dams, and pollution eventually reduced the population to roughly 10 percent of what it was pre-settlement. I recall reading a description of these large animals being caught, killed, and stacked up to dry out so they could be used as fuel for the boilers of ships that once cruised the Great Lakes.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?