In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create but by what we refuse to destroy. (John Sawhill, former president of The Nature Conservancy)
A reflection of ourselves
Our national parks and preserves are located in all regions of the country (Our National Parks), but they are in need of help. From budget cuts, discussed previously, to climate change this remarkable American creation, which goes back more than 100 years, is under threat in the 21st century.
Shrinking available water supplies affects ecosystems and species survival. Non-native plants, insects, snakes and reptiles encroach on native plants and animal ecosystems and ultimately can result in extinction. It's estimated that approximately 6,500 non-native species are now intruding on native plants and animals. Air pollution has no boundaries. Such things as coal plants and automobiles affect both air quality and visibility, which over time poisons plants, fouls water resources and threatens vulnerable species. A warming planet is affecting glaciers in our national parks, fire season is becoming longer and more severe, food production could decrease and eco-patterns may change more quickly and threaten numerous species … including humans.
Because of budget cuts deferred maintenance is increasing rapidly, estimated to be well over $7 billion at the present time. Roads are in disrepair, trails closed, restrooms shut and “out of order” signs appearing everywhere. At the same time, more visitors are arriving at our national parks, an estimated 45 million annually. The difficulty is that more visitors mean more problems requiring better service and upkeep.
Beware of the big bad wolf
You can take your tree hugging, granola eating politically correct, earth worshiping, subaru driving, pony tailed sandals in the winter, wolf loving butt somewhere else! (A sign near Salmon, Idaho, home of the annual Coyote and Wolf Derby)
In old European superstitions it is believed to be unlucky to say the word “wolf” in the month of December, for you run the risk of being attacked by one. On the other hand, wolves are prominent in Native American mythology and many Indians oppose the hunting of wolves. It is believed by some tribes that wolves are family members and the human spirit comes from wolves.
In general, European-Americans from the very beginning have had a total disregard for wildlife. We have slaughtered and butchered animals with abandon from the moment we set foot on the North American continent. We pretty much have belonged to the school of “dominion over” rather than “stewardship of.”
Even in the late 19th century there were reports of the day time sky darkening because of the migration of millions of passenger pigeons flying overhead. The bird tasted good and was easy to kill. On September 1, 1914 Martha, the last captive passenger pigeon, died at the Cincinnati Zoo. We rarely know the specific date that a species goes extinct, an extinction we humans caused.
Kill 'em all and then some
Salmon, Idaho holds a four day Coyote and Wolf Derby every year. Salmon is a rural ranching community and in its own way reflects a dark part of an American past that should be in the Museum of Natural History but still exists today in small pockets throughout the country. Keep in mind that the livestock industry “hates” predators of every kind and always has. Science and objective observation have little to do with it.
The object of the hunt is to kill coyotes and wolves as fast as possible. It is killing for the sake of killing. Prizes of $1,000 are awarded for the most animals killed. Special awards are also given to children who demonstrate prowess in this slaughter. Of particular interest is that part of the hunt takes place on federal lands—meaning public. Supposedly, oversight responsibility rests with the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, who seemingly vanish shortly before and during this cultural celebration of human blood-lust.
The steak tastes bad
Climatologists are telling us with a “high level” of certainty that our warming planet, since 1950 at least, is caused primarily because of what we humans have been doing to the Earth. Yes, it's us. In terms of global warming, meat production is especially harmful and beef production may be the most damaging form of meat. Cows produce methane emissions, a powerful greenhouse gas. Many methods of cattle production demand large tracts of land, contribute to the destruction of forests and trees are burned releasing CO2. Cattle production more often than not requires huge amounts of water and fertilizer. If the whole world ate beef at the rate of Americans and produced by methods that are usual in the U.S., we'd likely have little chance of staying below internationally agreed limits on global warming.
So what, why it matters for every one of us, and what can really be done about it? TO BE CONTINUED