McCain Sees Pork Where Scientists See Success. Candidate Criticizes Ambitious Bear Study. By Joel Achenbach. Washington Post Staff Writer.

In fact, if this $3-million project was a total waste and there are 1000 projects out there that are of the same cost, that’s only 3-billion dollars out of a budget of $2 ½ trillion.

McCain is hardly the first to take a minor project that might sound silly and hold it up as an example why the federal budget is so out of balance. This is a frequent tactic by both congressional Republicans and Democrats. Unfortunately, it is a sign they don’t have a plan, or are not willing to say what their plan is to deal with the out-of-control deficit.

It’s doubtful that one in hundred people have any idea what are the relative sizes of the components of the federal budget. They are military spending, social security and related programs like veterans benefits, Medicare and interest on the national debt. Any spending reduction that would make a perceptible difference has to come from these areas, and in the short run (meaning annual appropriations), only military spending and part of Medicare are available for cutting.

If cutting these areas is not acceptable, then the government has got to start taxing more. That means dropping the belief that you raise revenues by taxing less and less.

Update March 12. Editorial in the New York Times. McCain Misfires at Grizzlies

 
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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

56 Responses to McCain makes criticism of grizzly bear population study part of his stump speech

  1. avatar jimbob says:

    Living in Arizona I’ve watched McCain grow, or shrink, as a politician over time depending on your point of view. I was once considering working for his campaigns for the Senate and President when he was an independent spirit who stood up for what was right rather than toeing the party line. This stance, among other things he’s done lately is a grave indication that the old John McCain is dead. He wants the party’s backing so bad he’s sold his soul. What better way to get the Bushco’s full support than to bash some type of pro environmental cause. (Don’t forget they DESTROYED his reputation and credibility in the last Republican primary, so for him to get in bed with them again, he had to have sold out.) It gets the Republican core excited, gets the energy companies excited, and makes the average citizen who doesn’t understand the project happy that he’s against it. If you were thinking his past dictates that he may not be as bad on the environment, think again. It looks like he has the “core” backing, which seems to be energy and industry.

  2. avatar Dave Smith says:

    I’m not surprised Montana politicians were eager to fund this study; I’m shocked the environmental community doesn’t get what’s going on. The only reason to get an accurate count on grizzlies in the NCDE is so they can be delisted. The Montana Dept. of FWP recently asked the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee for a schedule on delisting griz in the NCDE. The whole idea folks, is to get grizzlies delisted while Bush is still in office.

    This DNA study gives us a “snapshot” of the NCDE grizzly population. That’s it. Proving that there are 586 grizzlies today does NOT tell us anything about the population trend, or the health of grizzly bear habitat in the NCDE. We can’t say grizzlies are doing better today than when they were listed in 1975 because we don’t know how many bears there were in 1975. There’s no basis for comparison.

    Counting grizzlies in Glacier National Park was a total waste of money. In the past, park officials guesstimated that there were 200 grizzlies. What if the DNA population study showed that there were only 50 grizzlies. Would the NPS close the Going to the Sun Road? Would the NPS shut down the campground at Kintla Lake? Of course not. Whether there are 50 grizzlies or 250 grizzlies, NPS land management and people management is going to remain exactly the same. At best, Glacier Park officials would protect bear habitat the way Yellowstone Park officials do–they’d keep the hotels and RV parks, and shut down the backcountry.

  3. avatar SAP says:

    Dave Smith –
    I agree with some of the thrust of your comments. My metaphor is that “we” (humans) have a “resource pie,” and in our magnanimity and generosity, we set aside a slice of the pie for grizzlies.

    In a naive view of things, science ideally tells us how big of a slice we need to give grizzlies so they can survive or thrive.

    It seems in practice we’re always using science to make sure we’re not giving the bears any more pie than what we absolutely have to.

    As you seem to be suggesting, do we ever decide to give them a BIGGER slice?

    Take a hard look at it, and the answer is, yes, we have given them more pie at times. It seems, though, that it’s only the much-maligned hard-nosed, suing types who have had much success in getting grizzlies a bigger slice — like on the Targhee National Forest and other places where we wrecked bear habitat.

    There are a few rare cases of cooperation without litigation.

    Some bureaucrats want to pat themselves on the back about how they “recovered” bears, and act like they did it all themselves, IN SPITE OF “obstructionists” and “extremists” who took them to court and made them do the right thing.

    Where I disagree with you is on two points here: first, there is very very little of YNP backcountry that is “shut down.” In spite of my own desire to ramble around some of these places, I am happy to leave it to the grizzlies. I think the Bear Management Area program has been a big boost to the population, and has greatly improved bear viewing in places like Antelope Creek. Also, didn’t NPS at least SHRINK the campgrounds at Fishing Bridge?

    Second, I disagree that the Northern Divide DNA project is a waste of money. Getting some idea of population size is critical for monitoring success or failure, and making course corrections.

    I agree that a one-time “snapshot” is almost useless, and I can see politicians wanting to stop counting them after getting the answer they want (like the USDA scaling back on mad cow surveillance — one way to deal with bad news is to studiously avoid it).

    Censusing or estimating population size doesn’t have to be done every year, really, so it would be fairly affordable to repeat this survey every third year, for instance. Monitoring a sample of radio-collared bears and tracking all known mortalities every year would keep us current on what’s going on with the population in the off years (the radio-collared bears would allow us to estimate unknown mortalities to add to the known mortalities).

    Theoretically, we could just stop counting bears (estimating population size is a better way to label it) and pour all the resources into conflict prevention (eg., bear-resistant garbage containers), enforcement, and habitat acquisition. But I’d still be uncomfortable not having any idea of the abundance of bears.

  4. avatar Dave Smith says:

    I’m glad you mentioned Yellowstone’s Fishing Bridge campground. The main reason it’s closed is yours truly. The NPS was supposed to close the RV Park, too, but didn’t. In order to “mitigate” for failing to close the RV Park, the NPS closes Pelican Valley at times. That’s like building a sewer system in Los Angeles, and sending the bill for it to San Francisco. To “mitigate” for building Grant Village, the NPS has seasonal closures at Heart Lake. In addition to being incredibly unfair, ask yourself–where do bears die? Bears get killed for acting like bears at the Fishing Bridge RV park, and Grant Village. In the history of Yellowstone, not one bear has been beaten to death by a backpacker in Yellowstone’s backcountry. I’d be more supportive of backcountry closures in Yellowstone if I saw corresponding closures in developed areas where bears get killed.

    SAP–it’s a rare treat and a real pleasure discussing bear issues with someone who knows that they’re talking about.

  5. avatar Buffaloed says:

    I would enjoy it if you two keep discussing bear issues so that people like myself could have a better understanding of them.

    I would also like to hear some discussion of habitat in Central Idaho. Presumably, with the Northern Divide population increasing, there should be a few bears exploring this area as we saw last fall with the griz being shot in Kelly Creek. I’m sure that, if given the chance, that they could re-establish themselves to Central Idaho but I’m sure it will take a very long time since they generally don’t disperse as far as wolves do.

  6. avatar Catbestland says:

    Yes, please do keep discussing bear issues. I am learning a tremendous lot. I have one question. Why is it that sometimes bears do not hibernate in the winter. I have heard several different accounts of this being the case and I notice that bears in captivity do not hibernate. Is it the availability of food that keeps them active?

  7. avatar JB says:

    jimbob,

    The league of conservation voters puts together a score card for congress each year regarding their votes on important conservation issues. Frankly, judging McCain by his previous or current actions doesn’t make much of a difference; his score card ranges from marginal, to plain awful. Here are his scores for the previous 5 years (on a scale of 0-100; 100 being best).

    110th – 0
    109th – 41
    108th – 56
    107th – 36
    106th – 6

    Also, keep in mind that electing McCain would mean 4 more years of Republican cronies…er…”appointees”–and I’m not just referring to judges; EPA, Interior, Agriculture, etc.

    If we don’t elect a Democrat this time, I may just say “to hell with it” and move to Canada.

    JB

    PS. For full disclosure, I voted for McCain in the 2000 primary in Michigan for the sole purpose of opposing Bush.

  8. avatar Dave Smith says:

    Hibernation & Central Idaho bears–the habitat is there for grizzlies. It’s my understanding (I could be wrong) that the general public wants grizzlies in Central Idaho. But ranchers, commercial hunting outfitters, politicians, and various government bureaucrats don’t. So the public and the grizzly bears get screwed.

    Hibernation. It’s all about food/calories. Cold and snow are non-issues to bears. On Kodiak Island, which has a fairly moderate climate, some male bears don’t hibernate. They can find enough food, even in winter. They’re beachcombers.

  9. I think it has been documented that Greater Yellowstone grizzly bears are entering their dens later — the product of relative late season abundance produced by wolves and also warming climate.
    – – – – – –
    I imagine that central Idaho wilderness is as good potential grizzly habitat as Yellowstone Park (although in terms of available calories neither is great).

  10. avatar Dave Smith says:

    Research is sacred. Has anyone here read Doug Peacock’s “Grizzly Years,” and if so, do you remember him mentioning the “Grizzly Hilton,” a spot in Glacier Park’s backcountry where a number of grizzlies gathered every fall to feast on huckleberries? Guess what Kate Kendall and the NPS did when they found out about that gathering of grizzlies. They decided to study the bears as part of a population study. If you see 20 bears for 3 years in a row, but then you only see 15 bears for the next three years, you assume this tells you Glacier Park’s overall bear population has declined at a similar rate. Other than the fact that this is not a sound premise, the study was done in a helicopter. The NPS flew low enough to scare the bears so they could count them as they were running away. Three cheers for research???? I think the public should have a chance to review bear research proposals, especially when they involve millions of taxpayer dollars.

  11. avatar JB says:

    “I think the public should have a chance to review bear research proposals…”

    Nothing would make the Bush administration (or Republican’s in general) happier–and there’s no way they would limit such reviews to bear research. Implementing this suggestion would mean that they could hold up legitimate research even longer, and draw attention (as was done here) to research that is likely to be perceived negatively by the public. The end result is less funding for research and more delays in publication.

    Moreover, the reason people know about these things is that funding for research is largely already transparent. If you want to go after wasted federal $$s, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

  12. avatar Dave Smith says:

    legitimate research? I don’t assume that any bear research is legit. Question #1 Is this research redundant. 90% of the time, the answer is “yes.” And far too much bear research is ultimately aimed at finding, what’s the max number of bears we can kill and still maintain a viable population. Question #2 What’s the purpose of this research? If researchers had to say in plain English, I want $5.2 million to count grizzly bears in the NCDE so they can be delisted, and so on, the public might ask tough questions about what now passes for legit research.

    Bears do not hibernate is quibbling about irrelevent semantics. Call it denning. Call it a deep sleep. Call it anything you want. What does it matter?

  13. avatar JB says:

    Replication (or redundancy) is a crucial to all science. We replicate studies in order to help ensure that a particular finding isn’t simply due to “chance.” Calling research “redundant” does not discredit it; in fact, far too few studies are replicated by scientists.

    As for question 2, I cannot speak to the intent of these particular researchers (and doubt whether you can either), but I can say that research is usually funded by agencies in order to answer a question related to management. It’s true, the management questions that are asked are a reflection (in part) of the political goals of politicians in power. However, it is the way in which scientists answer these questions that is important! I’m not familiar with this particular study, but see no reason to attack researchers that have been essentially hired to use science to answer a question.

    Frankly, I see this as yet another attempt by conservatives to discredit science and cut funding for anything related to natural resources.

  14. avatar JB says:

    “…the public might ask tough questions about what now passes for legit research.”

    The fact that you don’t like a particular research question does not make the research illegitimate. The methods used to carry out the research determine its legitimacy. If you think there were political motives behind the research question, blame the institution in power, not the people who conducted the research. If, on the other hand, you find fault with the researchers’ findings, then by all means challenge their research.

  15. avatar Dave Smith says:

    JB–give me one good reason to count grizzlies Glacier National Park. In the 80s, taxpayers funded a researcher to dive bomb the greatest gathering of grizzlies in the lower 48 states for a population study, and we’re better off because . . .

    due to this research, things changed in Glacier Park for grizzlies. For example . . .

    this research benefited grizzly bears because . . .

    the end justified the means because . . .

    20 years later, we did an expensive DNA population study of Glacier Park grizzlies. Same questions.

    Like I said, research/science is scared. Question the legitimacy of research, and you’ll be attacked. Glacier Park staff was using a helicopter to dive bomb grizzlies in a defacto wilderness area. If you or I did that we’d be arrested. The only excuse for this horrific behavior is it was RESEARCH. There’s actually been research done on . . . research. Ordinary folks were asked to torture other people in the name of research. They did it, and had nightmares about it, but hey, it’s RESEARCH. SCIENCE.

    In Yellowstone, the NPS closed backcountry areas to to prevent excessive disturbance of grizzlies by hikers, then sent RESEARCHERS to the closed areas to f#$k with the bears. The official title for the RESEARCHERS was something like the human disturbance squad, but they were better known as the suicide squad. I’m not making this up. I couldn’t make this up. I think the public should have a say in whether or not we fund this kind of ding-dong research.

  16. avatar Mike says:

    Showing a non-lethal interest in grizzlies is better than apathy. Grizzlies in the headlines is a good thing.

  17. avatar Dave Smith says:

    Mike–Non-lethal research got Yellowstone area grizzlies de-listed, and now that they’re de-listed, what to the states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming want? Grizzly bear hunts!!!! Lethal hunts. What’s gonna happen when non-lethal population studies lead to delisting grizzlies in the NCDE–lethal grizzly bear hunts.

  18. avatar JB says:

    Dave,

    Again, you’re confusing research with politics. Bush and his agency appointees got the grizzly de-listed. SOME research was used to justify it; other research was and is being used to question the legitimacy of this action.

    I’m not going to comment on a specific study with which I have no familiarity. It may have been done well, it may have been done poorly (clearly, the latter is your perception). My point WAS and IS that research should not be made out to be the bad guy. Even if the study you mention is flawed–fine, rant on about that study. But please don’t make sweeping generalizations about research, which has generally supported conservationists claims and helped forestall and reverse the illegitimate actions of politicians and agency cronies.

  19. avatar Dave Smith says:

    JB–I’m not confusing research with politics. I’d love to sit on a citizens committee that scrutinized all government funded bear research proposals–but that committee does not exist. I think that’s a mistake. I rely on bear research as much as anybody, but I don’t think that means we should give any and all bear researchers carte blanche to do any research they chose. Give a taxpayer committee $5.6 million and let them choose between funding research on the NCDE grizzly bear population, and funding research on grizzly bear mortality in the NCDE related to suburban sprawl since grizzlies were listed in 1975. Instead of sending an army of volunteers out to count grizzlies, spend the same money on an army of volunteers that counts the miles of illegal “user created” ORV trails in grizzly bear habitat. We need to do research that will protect grizzly bear habitat in the long run. Politicians don’t want to know, and they’re not willing to fund this kind of research. Instead of going along with the notion that any and all research is legit research, the public and conservationists need to take an objective look at govt funding for bear research. State and federal agencies could use funding for bear research in a far more productive manner.

  20. avatar JB says:

    “I’d love to sit on a citizens committee that scrutinized all government funded bear research proposals–but that committee does not exist.”

    If such a committee did exist, do you honestly think the people who appointed committee members would stack it full of people such as yourself, who believe “we need to do research that will protect grizzly bear habitat”? Don’t bet on it. The more likely scenario is that the government would claim that the committee would need to be balanced and so the usual interested stakeholders (e.g. Hunters and livestock producers) would get seats at the table. And those interest groups would sandbag any research that they thought was too preservation-oriented.

    I’m sorry Dave, but establishing such a committee would simply add another layer of political bureaucracy, and further slow down research. In the long run, such a committee would make getting funding to conduct wildlife-related research MORE POLITICAL, not less so.

    I understand your frustration and your desire to set a different agenda. But having citizen oversight of scientific research is a bad idea. If you want to change the agenda of government-funded research, change the people who set it, the politicians and their appointees.

  21. Hibernation of captive bears. Bears in captivity will hibernate if given the opportunity. That means if you keep a bear in a cage (zoo) or keep him as a circus bear or dancing bear he will not have a chance to hibernate. If you put such a bear in a semi wild environment (you cannot put them back into the wild) like the bear park here in my vicinity, that rescues such bears and puts them into a large landscaped enclosure with water features, trees and caves, their instincts will show and they learn to hibernate. Sure they will come out occasionally, weather permitting, to sniff around a little bit but (like wild bears also do) but then they dissapear again for a week or so.

  22. avatar Dave Smith says:

    JB–you make a lot of good points. But jeez, I thought I was cynical about the way government operates. You make me seem like an optimist!!! At any rate, I wish there was a practical way to evaluate the merits of bear research, before dropping thousands to millions of dollars on it.

    My top 10 list of bear research projects wouldn’t be anything like the government’s top 10 list.

  23. avatar JB says:

    Dave,

    Funny, I consider myself a realist. Uh-oh, may be it’s time for me to have a reality check?

    “My top 10 list of bear research projects wouldn’t be anything like the government’s top 10 list.”

    On that point I couldn’t agree with you more! And I wouldn’t exclude bear research from the list of research projects where my priorities would differ from federal agencies.

  24. avatar Monty says:

    All of the above discussion is informative & interesting to an “amature grizzly bear fan” who frequently (for previous 50 years) visits Glacier & Yellowstone NP’s because of the bears presence. I read every book I can get may hands on about these critters & really enjoy the above discussions. Thanks!

    I am a major fan of NP’s because these are the only places where “critters” can’t legally be shot, trapped, poisened, run over or whatever other lethal methods are used to kill. And McCain, just because he recently walked across the Grand Canyon, doesn’t mean he supports wild things & places.

  25. avatar Howard says:

    What a shame that conservation has now become a “liberal” or “Democrat” issue…it wasn’t always. Lincoln, the very first Republican, set aside the Yosemite Valley as a public treasure; Ulysses Grant signed the creation of Yellowstone National Park (first national park ever) in 1872; Teddy Roosevelt is one of the greatest American conservationists of all time; Nixon signed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments, the Endangered Species Act, and the banning of poisons on federal lands into law… I’m not arguing that none of these men never also made poor environmental decisions, just that I believe that for much of modern US history, conservation, air/water/soil etc. protection, and establishment of national parks as a source of pride in the country’s natural beauty were viewed as a general public “good” by a wide range of the political spectrum. Today, the Republican Party fights tooth and nail against any kind of conservation measure, and the concept of “public” seems to be offensive to the Establishment. I absolutely do not think that all private citizens who are Republicans share these views with the Party Establishment, but it doesn’t seem to matter. The fact that bashing the “enviros” is now an absolute prerequisite to getting the GOP nomination shows how deeply into anti-conservationism and negation of the concept of “public good” the current Republican Party Establishment has sunk. This marks a relatively abrupt change from historical Republican thought, and it’s quite sad that conservation has become a partisan issue.

  26. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    Some of you sound as if you believe that Democrats hold the solutions to our environmental problems, and they will come riding into Washington and clear out all the bad polluters and restore our natural heritage.

    I don’t think that is the reality. If you look at U.S. history, it is quite clear both parties have overwhelmingly sided with business over the environment issues. There really is little difference between them.

    The Republicans prefer to speed things up, but both parties have the same processes in place: economic growth trumps all environmental issues, and it always has.

    When the Kyoto accord was voted on by the U.S. Senate years ago, the vote was 99-0 against. Yes, not a single Democrat voted for Kyoto. Not a single Senator, PERIOD, despite all the supportive talk of Kyoto in Democrat circles. So much for Democrats standing up to climate change, right?

    What year did the U.S. gain wetlands? What year saw a decrease in the number of species on the Endangered Species Act? What year saw a decrease in public lands exploitation? etc etc

    You see where I am going with this. Both parties, despite rhetoric, have consistently placed economic interests above environmental ones historically. That is true to this very day. For the environment, every day is worse than yesterday. it has been that way since humans arrived on this continent around 20,000 years ago.

    Will be that way 20,000 years from now, too.

  27. avatar JB says:

    Howard:

    I couldn’t agree more. I believe this conversion took place when Reagan united conservatives from the various different camps.

    Smoky:

    I think that was aimed at me? Anyway, I don’t have any delusions about Democrats– I understand a democratic administration would not be a panacea for the environment. However, there is no question that, in general, they are better than the Republicans on conservation issues (check out the League of Conservation Voters website: http://www.lcv.org/).

    I agree with you that their rhetoric often doesn’t match their actions, and that this occurs on both sides. If you remember the debate leading up to the 2000 election, Bush was arguing that he would be the “environmental” president–what a crock! We, as citizens, need to do a better job of holding politicians accountable when their rhetoric does not match their actions.

  28. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    JB,

    Sorry I left the impression I was directing that toward anyone in particular. That wasn’t my intention. I am just cautioning against putting too much faith in either national party. Both consistently betray the environment; only a small degree of separation actually exists between them, IMO.

    Environmentally, I just don’t like the end game that I see. I could literally use hundreds of examples, but let’s take Ethiopia. Historically, this country was blanketed in forest, plains, and brush. It had a rainy season that provided enough rain for both forests and crops. Ethiopians have lived there contentedly for thousands of years, hunting and tending their crops while raising thousands of generations.

    The natural resources were plentiful enough that they supported a healthy human population for a long time. However, a scenario played out, as it has all over the world. Today, the country looks a lot different. It has suffered almost total deforestation, the collapse of it’s once bountiful wildlife populations, has fought wars with neighbors over resources, and the country’s almost total deforestation ushered in permanent droughts that have produced the country we think of when we hear the word “Ethiopia.”

    But it wasn’t always like this. Once it was an African Eden. What happened? Uncontrolled population. Eventually, the wild areas had to be invaded for resources to fed the people. Water sources dried up after over-exploitation. All the forests were eventually destroyed to supply wood for fuel and animals for food.

    As in many countries of Africa, even National Parks have been thoroughly over-run and destroyed to supply resources for a starving people. When you are starving, what is a National Park designation worth?

    What will the U.S. look like when our population increases from 300 million to 400 million? To 500 million? How about a billion Americans?

    Am I the only one that sees this future? Is it inevitable? How does Earth feed and supply resources for 10 billion humans? 20 billion? We will be there all too soon. Edward O. Wilson once said: “The rampaging monster loose upon the land is uncontrolled population growth.” It is the very reason for every single environmental problem we face.

    The Democtrats aren’t going to save us from ourselves. Read Jared Diamond’s “Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed.” Be warned, that book will alter the very way you see the world. And you might deeply regret that.

  29. Ever since Ronald Reagan unified conservatives and made they a near majority, there has been an enormous difference between the Republicans and Democrats. So I disagree.

    However, the difference is between a party that is horrible on outdoor/environmental/sustainability issues and one that is just fair (the Democrats).

    Merely being fair is much better than horrible.

    It is a myth of democracy that parties put forth platforms, the people choose, and then the winning party implements their promises. Much of the change comes after the election, and regardless what they campaigned on. Does anyone remember the issues G.W. Bush and Al Gore argued about in 2000?

    In American politics little of a positive lasting nature can be done unless the government is controlled by one party (fairly elected, of course) and the majority is large.

    Since 1969, most or all of our lifetimes, both Republicans and Democrats have been short of a strong majority. So they have scrambled, and increasingly the President has tried to seize for himself powers that are blatantly unconstitutional.

    Right now the Democrats barely control Congress, especially the Senate, and the are confronted by an Administration that I think is the worst in history. The Democrats could show more courage, but even then they can’t really change the course of events unless they control the White House and the Congress (by a large majority). The last time there was such a situation was in 1965 (Democrat Lyndon Johnson and a huge Democratic Party majority in Congress).

    In my view for there to be any hope the Democrats much win big — both branches of government — and then on top of it, all kinds of groups from conservation groups, scientific, educational, certain kinds of religious groups, and many more will need to push, push them into action.

    The right kind of President can also make a huge difference, although bad is easier than good. I had no idea that the duo of Bush and Cheney could so screw things up. My education in political science was wrong because it said Presidents are constrained to at least some degree by public opinion, powerful interest groups, and Congress; but Bush and Cheney have proven that individuals can make a big difference, in this case completely in the wrong direction.

    The 2008 election will probably be the most important in a century, and if George Bush gets what amounts to a third term, there truly will be no hope.

  30. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    nobody should have any allusions that the politicians are going to do anything for conservation.

    the Democrats give us the room to leverage it for ourselves.

    SmokyMtMan,

    you want to end overpopulation ? end poverty.

  31. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    Brian,

    Ending poverty is almost as impossible as maintaining sustainable population growth. I don’t think either will ever happen. And my point was that if you have a steadily increasing population, the people will eventually utilize all of their land’s resources.

    There will be increased demand put upon the natural resources until there is a total collapse of the systems. It is a pervasive theme throughout human history. What used to happen on a local basis, is now occurring on a global scale.

    Ralph,

    You make several good points. Bush/Cheney and co have remarked many times in speeches that they believe in a “strengthening of the Executive Branch.” Indeed, they have used their constitutional powers above and beyond any president before them. “Presidential signing statements” being one example.

    This administration has made increasing the President’s power a top priority. And they have succeeded to a greater extent than anyone would have thought possible, even themselves.

    While I am severely disappointed in the Democrat Party, I admit there is a difference between them on environmental issues. There has never been an administration as extreme as this one towards the environment.

  32. avatar JB says:

    Smoky:

    No apology necessary–I took no offense. By the way, I agree with you regarding population growth (and I have read E.O. Wilson’s and Jared Diamond’s books). If I remember correctly, Wilson cites a paper that estimated maximum world population at 10-12 billion. I hope to [insert deity of your choice] that we don’t get there, but at least in the short term, I share your pessimism. It would also be helpful if we didn’t have economists running around saying that our whole way of life is dependent upon having more people to produce more crap so the economy can keep growing. Anyway, speaking of production, I’m off to work…

    JB

  33. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    JB,

    “It would also be helpful if we didn’t have economists running around saying that our whole way of life is dependent upon having more people to produce more crap so the economy can keep growing.”

    This is why it is clear the financial markets of the world will pay any price to maintain positive economic growth. No price is too high to pay for the Wall Streets of the world. Our politicians (of BOTH parties) and so-called leaders are pushing us to the very edge of the cliff. Indeed, I feel as if I am looking over the edge into the abyss right now.

    Having read those 2 awesome books, I know you are familiar with the many historical examples of the repercussions of unrestrained population growth. The only difference is this time the scale is global whereas before it was local.

    And the result was always the same: over-exploitation of resources led to collapse in the local systems. This has been the downfall of many civilizations. We have only recently colonized N. America, will this be our fate as well?

    Wilson writes that Earth cannot supply the current 6 billion inhabitants with a lifestyle we are used to in the West. If the rest of the world enjoyed the American standard of living, we would need several more Earths to supply that many resources. But the developing world is rapidly gaining on us, and what will happen as our resources collapse from over-exploitation?

    This is already occurring in our oceans, many agricultural centers as drought and desertification take over, and we are drying up rivers and lakes all over the world.

    The very systems we rely upon for life are being completely depleted. The same mistake many societies have made before us. Those societies suffered collapse, and so will we.

  34. avatar kim kaiser says:

    Smokeymtman said “As in many countries of Africa, even National Parks have been thoroughly over-run and destroyed to supply resources for a starving people. When you are starving, what is a National Park designation worth?

    What will the U.S. look like when our population increases from 300 million to 400 million? To 500 million? How about a billion Americans?”

    I made reference and case to the explosion of people and the continued lack of human control over human increases, and was told that thinking scares people etc.

    but its a fact,, if we dont let some of the populations naturally die off as we let animals die off due to starvation, lack of self sufficient resources,,etc,, worrying about a few endangered animal specie will be the least of human worries,, jsut look at the reaction of humans when the bird flu became a concern, what maybe 4 years ago,,,, we were killing every chicken and bird population around, espcially in the asian countries and evey dead crow and blackbird etc was sent to a lab for test,, we go just a little worried about a pandemic or epidemic and suddenly every creature is our enemy,,

    but then again, making awareness of human abuse adn overpopulation scares people, you wont progress your arguement that we need control,, it has to be somenthing else that suffers at our hands, whether it be forest to provide more houseing and new fields for agriculture around the world or the animals we destroy in our own quest..good luck passing your thought on it, i didnt have any,

  35. avatar Dave Smith says:

    Grizzly population study–now I get it. 1. Yellowstone and the NCDE both have about the same number of bears. 2.The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) claimed bear habitat in the Yellowstone was secure, and the IGBC will make the same claim for the NCDE. 3. As part of the delisting process for Yellowstone area grizzlies, the IGBC came up with sustainable mortality rates. They’re gonna plug in the same numbers for the NCDE. They’ll say that with 563 bears, the sustainable mortality rate is 34 grizzlies per year, or whatever, then they’ll look at mortality rates in the NCDE for 1990-2006, discover that grizzly mortality has been under the limit, and delist grizzlies in the NCDE.

  36. avatar Catbestland says:

    Kim,
    You actually did have luck passing your thougts on. I and others I’m sure, who read your posts agree with you completely and Smokymountainman completely. In fact even though I haven’t read the referenced material, I intend to do so. I think that population control measures is a scary subject to breach. Maybe that’s why people don’t comment about. What are the options? They are scary too. But it is obvious that overpopulation is the major contributor to all the problems we face as a society. How can anyone expect it not to be? Pet populations have to be controlled because not doing so results in a negative impact on society and the pets as well. The same should be obvious in human population. I am afraid that doing nothing will result in an even greater human population reduction from a horrific cause. Nature has always handled the matter in the past with plagues and wars and what have you. The shame of it is that we have the intellect to avoid such dissasterous events by careful planning. If we don’t, take responsibility ourselves, Nature will reduce the populations for us. It just goes to show, You can’t fool Mother Nature.

  37. avatar jimbob says:

    Smoky–I couldn’t agree with you more! You’ve expanded on many of the points I have made over time on this blog way better than I could have. Thanks again, Ralph for publishing it all!

  38. avatar Monty says:

    Jared Diamonds book “Collapse” was very informative & depressing. It is so true, the less one knows the happier you can be. If you are deeply religious, then God will take care of everything: “what me worry”?

  39. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    what’s up with germany’s population explosion ?

    end poverty.

    this is a problem that derives for far more subtle and fundamental inclinations than the suggestion of state intervention can address. population control is a losing conversation – government regulation has atrophied ~ that’s a problem, but the statist population control conversation is a step backward in advancing such. It pins the blame of victims of economic oppression. regulation of economy including the the advancement of economic egalitarian principles ~ of equality ~ is a far more effective remedy, demonstrated through practice, and avoiding the hard truth that statist population control is fascist and runs contrary to the amelioration of the most fundament human liberties – rather than expounding on the amelioration of liberty by advancing economic liberty (that folk don’t have to have children to advance economically). How’s China’s population control working at addressing over-population ? How’s Germany’s (and other European countries) regard for economic justice working ?

  40. avatar kim kaiser says:

    it may be a losing conversation,but until you acknowledge it, all these other fights for grouse, elk, wolves, bears, salamanders, frogs are simply farts in the wind and there demise is inevitable,,, so ignore it if it makes you feel better

  41. avatar JB says:

    Kim,

    I think the hope that many of us have is that population growth will level off and then fall as third world countries industrialize. This has been the pattern in the past in nearly all industrialized nations. In fact, many European countries now actually have negative population growth, and the U.S.’s population growth is below replacement level not accounting for immigration. The keys are education for women, access to contraception and family planning services. The question is, will we get a handle on growth soon enough? Last I heard, the earth was projected to host 8.9 billion people by 2050.

    http://www.allbusiness.com/professional-scientific/scientific-research/571060-1.html

  42. avatar JB says:

    Monty, Smoky:

    If you liked Collapse, take a look at Clive Ponting’s “A Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations,” (1991) Penguin Books. I believe there was an updated version released in 2007 as well.

  43. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    kim,

    i acknowledge over-population. i also acknowledge over-consumption ~ which, at the rate of technological advancement will render any population control moot — when technology’s ability to consume resources given the economic organization that rewards such consumptive innovation over conservation outpaces increases in population ~ then population control is relatively moot.

    the struggle for sage grouse, elk, wolves etc. is in no way a “fart in the wind” ~ the struggle for the ESA is a struggle for the advancement and introduction of alternative values. The ESA forces a confrontation with the unsustainability of human economic endeavors. That confrontation builds tension and awareness.

    one struggle for ecological justice ~ as formulated by a few in the idea of “population control” and as presented in statist terms — is WRONG. the advancement of awareness concerning overpopulation must not chafe and run contrary to the parallel struggles regarding human dignity, liberty, economic justice, etc. statist population control does this — as does the idea that the africans can die.

    one does far more good in curbing the senseless overpopulation of the planet in advancing a universal regard for life such that it is valued enough to ensure that economic disparity is eradicated than to purport that populations of people ought be. and the stats show that this is more effective as well.

    end poverty. just cause it ain’t so in america ~ doesn’t mean it ain’t happening in other parts of the planet.

  44. avatar kim kaiser says:

    fights for all these things we want to save, simply have to start with us,,,,,in some fashion,, its a dirty subject,, but it is the basis for all resources that we waste from trees to water to grass to air,

    i believe and have the same distaste for all that is wrong with how we treat our non human wildlife, i drove through my home state of Mississippi today, and saw some of the clear cutting of hundreds of acres,, down to the dirt and was discouraged as to the destruction, but I also believe that we cant ignore our willingness to overlook how its our progress that is the basic root,, i am not a liberal, i dont believe in welfare, whether it is for cattle ranchers who use our public lands for pennies or lazy no counts that we give money to day in and day out, which, as many of you know, or maybe not, being this is a primarily western crowd,, that for many years an d still to a lesser degree, welfare promotes having more kids than you can afford being lazy and the govt would pay you to take care of them. the more you have, the more the govt pays,,with that system, what incentive do you have to stop,,absolutely none.. I am in the middle of a tax audit,, and it jsut chaps my ass they want copies of my donations to WWF, Sierra and the other 3 or 4 groups i donated a total of 500 dollars to in 2005, and then i go to walmart and watch a lady on welfare pull up with genetic debris (kids) on both arms at 17 and 18 years old with 10 lbs of shrimp on the counter and puling out the welfare stamp,,you want to stop poverty, stop promoting give away, ALL giveaway,, we are so adamant about stopping ranching welfare on public land, why not human welfare. Until that time, i will always say, we are the cause of all the problems we have brought on ourselves, whether its for more oil, more food, more need for open lands, for me..

    economic disparities will never be fixed, everyoine is not gonna be makng 30k or equiv over the world,, its been tried through socializm, communism, dictatorships, democracies,, it will NEVER HAPPEN, thats purely idealist,,when you get out the idealist thoughts, you can get to the reality of the fix.

    no, i dont believe we should have extermination tanks, but there ought to be and should be some sort of economic effort to discourage rampant reproduction if it cant be supported, its that simple. we do it to animals,, we fix our dogs and our cats,,, what exempts us,,,because we are supposed to be smart!! well, if we dont see whats coming, we arent as smart as we think,, and yes,, i will also agree with you,, nothing will ever be done about it,, just too touchy to class us with an animal,,

    JB,,
    i have linked this before,,
    from the census bureau
    CURRENTLY 6, 440, 113, 448 people in the WORLD.

    IN JUNE 08 PROJECTED 6,673, 199, 685
    33 million more people in 6 months
    IN THE USA 301 million people in 2007
    projected at current growth 350 million in 2025.. 50 million more people sucking air, needing houses, trees and tree products, needing food, toilet paper, diapers, water bottles, addl sewage treatment needs. (btw, the bottles that we use each day for bottled water, million barrels of oil per year to produce)

    thats just 17 years,, so if you dont think puttin on a glove isnt at least as important buying a prious and your arent promoting it just as fervent as you promote fuel usage, one is sticking his head in the sand and being irresponsible to quote others.
    Look at that 33 million more people by june of 08,, look at that again in big letters 33 MILLION more in the world in 6 MONTHS,,,,,thats what,, 5 new york cities,,,,, how you gonna combat poverty with those numbers looking at you,, really,, who do you have to tax to cover those sustanance cost,, how many forest you gonna have to cut down to make more agricualtural lands to feed all these people, and thats in 6 months,,,

    its not inhuman to be concerned about the destruction of our earth by the human,, but no one will admit to. We always try to control something else and we know how that always turns out,

  45. avatar JB says:

    Kim,

    You seem quite agitated. I hope you realize that you are preaching to the choir? (At least I don’t think you’ll find a much more receptive audience).

    The census bureau statistics include immigration. The last time I checked, the birth rate was between 2.00 and 2.08; less than replacement (2.1). You might have noted that are population is also aging; meaning people are moving past their child-bearing years and people are waiting longer to have kids. All of this means that population growth will slow, if current trends continue. For the most part, our population growth today is attributable to immigration.

    You asked how to combat poverty. Again, poverty (and the birth rate) decreases with education, women’s rights, and access to fertility controls. Thus, to reiterate Brian’s comments, reducing poverty goes hand in hand with reducing population growth. Additionally, as E.O. Wilson noted, technological advances in food and energy production, renewable energies, and more efficient uses of energy, could allow us to accommodate the extra mouths to feed–assuming there isn’t some catastrophic event.

    Anyway, I’m not looking at the situation through rose-colored glasses; but I don’t think things are as bleak as you paint them out to be.

  46. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    socialism is being tried in europe ~ they don’t have enough kids

  47. avatar jimbob says:

    The New York Times editorial is nice in taking McCain to task, but goldangit how come politicians aren’t hung out to dry even more severely when they do crap like this? If Bush had come out and stood for what he stands for before the election(s) he never would have been elected. I think my parents taught me that behavior was as bad as lying. Everybody justifies this behavior with “that’s politics”. THAT is the problem.

  48. avatar kim kaiser says:

    i may be preaching to the choir, but you cant ignore the numbers in the world totals, in addition, you cant ignore the destruction of forest around the world to accomdate food production for burgeoning populations. Africa is destroying mountain gorilla forest to plant crops, South America is burning down rainforest for lumber and crop production. CHeck the old aerials that show year to year destruction.. WE arent growing land masses here to accomodate the food growing needs, we are however losing shorelines all over the world,

    I am not sure or germanys political system, but if they are losing population, then that is good and what ever they are doing works, but i would doubt its because of the govt, maybe the people there are just tired of stepping over one another and can see that effects of overpopulaion, besides, they have been populated by “civilization” way longer than the US. and have less space to occupy,,

    I dont see how you can support all the efforts to prevent loss of haibtat for wolves and elk in the three state triangle this forum primarily covers and in the same breath not believe or acknowledge the same habitat destruction on the world scale, which also affects predators, (lions, wild dogs etc in africa, tigers in india, siberian and snow leopards in russian asia and china) which is primarily to the benefit and because of the over population of man. You are trying to justify it with improved tech for food etc, but that is denial,,

    I can say that you remind me of the gentleman who frequents the forum named Layton who antagonzies most here because he wont listen or acknowledge to all the data that you supply him on points to certain conclusions about elk, bison, etc and how he is constantly told to read the overall reports,, well,, i will leave this conversation on the same note, you read the reports, the math on population births and extended longevity, as one person told me prior to this, if only we could change those numbers a small percentage, 1/2 of one percent,, great benefit to the ecology would occur..

  49. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    JB,

    I think you are very wrong on several of your points. eradicating poverty, for instance. Edward O. Wilson writes that if every person on Earth used the same amount of resources as Americans, we would require something like 3 more Earths.

    So, how do you eradicate poverty if there aren’t even enough global resources to go around NOW? How do you decrease poverty if there are no natural resources to utilize? For instance, most of Africa lacks the permanent water supplies for industrialization, manufacturing, or intensive crops. So, how do you propose Africa ends their poverty, then?

    With wishful thinking? How does China feed its 1.2 billion citizens without total destruction of their environment? The answer is, it isn’t possible. In China, they are going to extreme lengths to feed their people, and it is literally destroying their entire environment. They have gone beyond the point of no return.

    Our oceans have lost 90% of the large fish, including Tuna. Sharks are vanishing, with many species facing immediate extinction. Many poor countries rely upon fishing for currency and food. Oceans supply 15% of the world’s proteins. But fisheries are collapsing all over the world, and especially quickly off Africa’s coast and in Lake Victoria.

    Due to this and many other reasons, poverty is actually increasing in the world, not decreasing.

    So, saying “end poverty” sounds noble, but they are hollow words with no basis in reality. There is no process you can implement to eradicate poverty, for the very simple reason the world lacks the resources for all it’s current citizens.

    There is a very inequitable distribution of resources, and if you fairly distributed all the planet’s resources, we would all be poor. Instead, we have a few very wealthy and many very poor. I guess you can say about a billion people live very well, another billion are doing all right, and the other 4 billion are poor.

    And what are you proposing to alter that equation?

  50. avatar JB says:

    Smoky:

    Your analysis rests heavily on how you define”impoverished” or “poor.” You assumed that what I meant by eliminating poverty was increasing the standard of living in other nations so that they consume like the U.S. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I think we could all consume a lot fewer resources without being impoverished; in fact, I think consuming less would actually make a lot of people (especially Americans) healthier and happier in the long run.

    As I noted above, accommodating an increasing population will require “technological advances in food and energy production, renewable energies, and more efficient uses of energy”; I should’ve said that it would require more efficient use of “resources” not just energy. The point is, we need to get out of the cycle of over-consumption; that is, we need to consume less resources per capita. To say that we already have more people than the earth can support assumes we can only alter one side of the equation. In fact, reducing our per capita consumption of resources would allow us (as a society) to accommodate increasing populations–at least to a point.

    Globally, we currently produce more than enough food to feed all of the earth’s inhabitants (I believe the 10-12 billion carrying capacity cited by Wilson was with respect to how much food we were capable of producing).

    You asked: “And what are you proposing to alter that equation?”

    Technology, efficiency, reduced consumption, and a more equitable distribution of resources–that’s what I’m proposing.

    PS–This isn’t anything new, I believe this I’m pretty much repeating the conclusion that Wilson reached.

  51. avatar JB says:

    Kim:

    [sigh] Did you actually take the time to read what I wrote?

    Kim says: “you cant ignore the numbers in the world totals…you cant ignore the destruction of forest around the world to accommodate food production”

    Who said I was ignoring anything? I acknowledged that increasing human populations are a major problem. Forest loss is also a problem, though since you brought it up, I would note that you can’t ignore the fact that forests have been recovering across much of the Eastern and Midwestern United States.

    Kim says: “i will leave this conversation on the same note, you read the reports, the math on population births and extended longevity”

    What “reports” are you talking about? If you’re going to use literature to support your argument, it would be helpful if you cited it. If you go back up and read my prior posts, you’ll find that I, in fact, did cite the literature I was reading and included a link to an article on population trends. If you’d taken the time to read the article, you might have noted the following: “…75% of developing countries will reach below-replacement fertility (fewer than 2.1 children per woman) by 2050.” Perhaps this will not be enough, perhaps it will?

    Kim says: “I can say that you remind me of the gentleman who frequents the forum named Layton who antagonzies most here because he wont listen or acknowledge to all the data that you supply…”

    I’ll let Layton defend himself. However, I don’t see where you’ve supplied any data for me to ignore. Did I miss something? You ask me to listen, but as far as I can tell you’re just “screaming” without any real substance.

    Let me make this simple:

    Your argument appears to be that we need to start spaying and neutering people. I believe this course of action is not politically tenable, and is unlikely to become so until its too late. I suggest that we consume less, reuse more, and push technology as far as we can. I readily admit this might not be enough, but I am hopeful.

    In the future, if you don’t agree with my conclusions, try providing some evidence (preferably with citations) of why you are right and I am wrong–this is how a debate works. Otherwise, you are just yelling and it is not worth my time to respond.

  52. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    JB,

    Thanks for the reply, I am enjoying this conversation with you. I also plan on checking out that book.

    I think my main point has been either lost, or I failed to make it sufficiently clear. Simply put, it is this: today, on planet Earth, human activity is using up the world’s resources much faster than they are being replenished.

    This applies to the oceans, oil, fresh water sources, natural gas, forest products (esp. lumber), topsoil levels in Earth’s arable land, uranium for nuclear power generation, wetland destruction, etc etc. So, how will we be able to handle even another 1 or 2 billion people? Even with given advancements, our population is out-stripping Earth’s ability to provide for them.

    You write: “The point is, we need to get out of the cycle of over-consumption.” How is this going to be possible? Every major economy in the world (if not all) rely upon higher consumption rates to fuel economic growth. Indeed, living standards are based upon consumption rates, and every country in the world is trying very hard to raise their people’s standard of living.

    The hard reality is that every country in the world is attempting to INCREASE their use of resources, not reduce them. So, how are we going to change the realities of the global economy from the current state of consumerism? Personally, I don’t see how it’s possible, but I would love to hear any practical plans or ideas that might work.

    You write: “I think consuming less would actually make a lot of people (especially Americans) healthier and happier in the long run.” I won’t debate this point, I essentially agree with it; however, I will say this position represents an extreme minority. In world governments, I would say that view is recommended at about the same frequency as a global initiative to begin colonizing other planets.

    Which is to say, it’s basically a non-starter. I would love to see that put into practice, but I think it is a political impossibility in almost any country, but especially in developed nations where the populace would have to voluntarily give up certain luxuries.

    If current resource consumption rates continue, and the global population steadily increases as it has since the dawn of Man, the very survival of our civilization will be in doubt soon enough.

  53. avatar JB says:

    Smoky:

    I’m glad you took the time to clarify your points–essentially, I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said. You hit the nail on the head when you asked how curbing our levels of consumption is possible.

    As you noted, our economy is currently based on increasing levels of consumption of goods and services. Besides the technological advances and efficiency improvements already mentioned, one way we might tackle the problem of overconsumption of NR is by switching from the consumption of products/goods, to the consumption of services. In this scenario, growth of the economy could continue (at least for a time) as we decrease the consumption of NR-based products and increased consumption of services.

    I’m out of my area of expertise here, but I suspect market forces will ultimately force this shift: as NR become more scarce and human beings more plentiful the cost of the former should rise while the cost of latter (in terms of the services/labor we provide) should fall.

    An example of new services that potentially require very little NR are web-based services. For instance, people pay fees not only for a broad-band connection, but access to certain web sites, web-hosting, web-based software, games, and other products. Most of these products require little in the way of NR and are available to anyone with an internet connection. Of course, they require electricity, but this is one area where advances in efficiency and the use of renewable sources (e.g. wind, solar) make increased consumption possible.

    Anyway, as I mentioned, I’m well outside of my area of expertise. I, like you, would rather we had curbed population growth a long time ago. In fact, although Kim would be surprised to learn this, I have no problem with limiting births, I just don’t think its politically viable…at least not in the foreseeable future.

    I’m interested to hear if you have any more thoughts on the matter?

  54. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    Smoky says:

    The hard reality is that every country in the world is attempting to INCREASE their use of resources, not reduce them. So, how are we going to change the realities of the global economy from the current state of consumerism?

    There are a lot of other realities out there, a lot of people working in local communities at sustainable levels. Reliance on global economies and governments that subscribe to hyper-consumerism and the ‘perpetual growth’ model will invariably result in economic consequence. i don’t think anyone is doubting that the current economic predisposition is not sustainable ~ but there are communities, and indeed countries, all over the world that recognize this and are making adjustments. the nature of the beast assures that these efforts will not be advertised, especially in America – the ‘mecca’ of consumer capitalism. Europe, for example (EU), is far more progressive in this regard – on the verge of expounding the Precautionary Principle throughout (at the very least, the principle is relatively politically salient), ‘cradle to grave’ regulations internalizing associated costs of production and social values, consumption etc. which rewards re-use, recycling, etc.

    Places in South America are likewise progressing in leaps and bounds. Many local communities there focusing inward on sustainability and self-reliance even as governments and globalized economies play their farcical geopolitical games – unraveling and exposing the consequences of the model. ironically, many of these efforts spurred by being disenfranchised by the North’s model. I’ve got a friend of the family in Columbia nearing complete self-reliance. There is some good work in Belize that some in my family yearn to re-visit and contribute to. These are just a couple examples.

    The point is, the unsustainable consumption levels and conspicuous economic models will invariably confront the consequences of their divorce from ecological sustainability. When these adjustments happen, those reliant on them will be hit the hardest, and those not now advertised that have been focusing on self-reliance, ecological sustainability, etc. will be hit less hard. Much like any ecosystem, models that are sustainable will be rewarded ~ those that are not will be forced to adjust.

    JB points out the advances in efficiency technologies and their promises. these technologies certainly contribute to the ability to limit the ‘pain’ associated with adjustments – perhaps even expedite the decentralization of production of energy in requiring less energy demand and employing sustainable energy production technologies. The ‘industrialization’ of countries that is paramount to curb population explosion by no means requires these countries to subscribe to models of “standard of living” reliant on material consumption. In fact, there is widespread resistance to this all over the world. But, once again, the nature of the beast suggests that these efforts will not be advertised.

    There is much effort to aid the “industrialization” of these nations employing incentives which promote sustainable energy production technologies (leapfrog) rather than fossil fuels. Unfortunately, the World Bank & WTO are predisposed to require developing nations to liberalize their economies and mandate exportation of raw natural resources. Again, there is growing resistance to this, remember Seattle ? many of us got gassed and beat up for our effort, but gatherings like this are happening all over the world. Similarly, the organization of the Group of 11 and others working very hard to curb these extortionist international policies ~ not advertised.

    there’s plenty of wealth for everyone right now ~ it’s distribution is the problem.

    but once again, i’ll have to part ways with the suggestion that government intervention by limiting the number of births people have is an appropriate remedy. it is a egregious violation of the most fundamental premise of human liberty ~ a wayward incursion into the most intimate teleological principle ~ and it’s a hell of a way to alienate the great majority of humanity from support of the remedies which rightly address the conditions promoting the problem.

  55. avatar SAP says:

    A few days ago, Kim wrote:

    “until you acknowledge it, all these other fights for grouse, elk, wolves, bears, salamanders, frogs are simply farts in the wind and there demise is inevitable,,, so ignore it if it makes you feel better”

    I don’t have a whole lot to add to the ensuing discussion, but I thought it was an interesting coincidence to see this article in the New York Times right around the same time:

    “. . . about 7.59 billion years from now Earth will be dragged from its orbit by an engorged red Sun and spiral to a rapid vaporous death. That is the forecast according to new calculations by a pair of astronomers . . .”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/science/space/11earth.html?scp=1&sq=sun+earth&st=nyt

    Of course, 7.59 BILLION years is a LOOONNNNGGGGG time. It’s an awful long time to keep on suffering and impoverishing the experience of life on Earth for all sentient beings. So, we need to keep on working to steer things in a good direction, if we can.

    But, the prospect of that big red Sun sucking our little rock into a fiery end . . . well, for me it kind of takes some pressure off, makes me smile, keeps me from taking myself too seriously.

    Ralph, will I get booted for citing the Bible? I try to stick to the really good stuff like Revelations and Ecclesiastes:

    Ecclesiastes 2:16

    “For there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man as with the fool, inasmuch as in the coming days all will be forgotten. And how the wise man and the fool alike die”

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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