I love the outdoors–especially hiking–climbing and–mountain biking. So it is particularly painful to learn of the Bush regime’s recent shenanigans in this realm.
It’s not that I didn’t know about the long-term multi-administration and multi-Congress de-funding of the National Forest Service. That goes hand-in-hand with the obnoxious "fee demo" program that has now become a permanent fixture in national forests that charges us to use OUR own public property. In Southern California–this is the Adventure Pass you must display to park in any of the four area forests–Angeles–Cleveland–Los Padres–and San Bernardino. To be fair–this foolishness began during the Clinton Administration–though at the Republican controlled Congress’ behest.
It’s not that I didn’t know about the ongoing efforts of the Bushies to despoil OUR pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for a whopping six months worth of oil.
It’s not that I didn’t know about the commencing sell-off of OUR public lands that have somehow been deemed less than useful to us by the infinite wisdom of nature’s rapers. And where will these proceeds go? Why–to local development–supposedly schools and the like–in what are sparsely populated areas where many of the country’s public holdings are found. Can you guess which way many of these areas tend to vote? Can you spell p-a-y-o-f-f?
It’s not that I didn’t know about the drive by rapacious developers supported by the current lunatic fringe dominating the legal system. These yahoos seek to undermine the Clean Water Act as they proceed to raze every forest and fill every wetland–nature’s water filters–they come across–all to build some grotesque–fuel wasting–residential "community" where everyone is walled off from their neighbors. Result? OUR potable water supplies are compromised.
It’s not that I didn’t know about the games being played to circumvent the Clean Air Act in the interest of allowing longtime polluters to continue their dirty operations under grandfathering exemptions granted to then existing facilities. Remember–this act is over 30 years old–how long would you keep old technology going? Unless of course your intent is to circumvent pollution fighting laws. Meanwhile–the myth of "the market’s" benevolence has been harnessed to create a trading system of what I’ll call pollution vouchers. This allows some operation that has built a clean plant to sell its "right" to pollute a certain amount to a dirtier operation that does not meet standards. Ultimately we do not achieve maximum reduction of the carcinogenic and other noxious emissions cast off into the air entering OUR lungs.
It’s not that I didn’t know about the same filth-mongers’ obsession with and advocacy of coal as a rejuvenated source of energy. This one’s a triple whammy. It is the most polluting of the fossil fuels. "Modern" mining techniques involve beheading whole mountains–pulling out the coal–then filling in streams and valleys with the remnants–destroying OUR plant–animal–and human communities for miles around. Presumably as part of the "sacred" project of "deregulation" or under-funding of regulatory agencies that commenced in the Reagan era–coal mining too has been impacted. Care to guess why we’re seeing more and more lethal mining accidents–and I’m not referring to those happening in China!
It’s not that I didn’t know about the whitewash being applied to the nuclear power industry. Do you know of any other industry that is barely profitable–if not outright money losing–which gets touted as a source of salvation–in this case by allegedly providing "cheap" energy? And this is after they find clever ways of charging us–the public–for dealing with incredibly dangerous waste that will remain so for hundreds of thousands of years.
But somehow–two Los Angeles Times pieces–both appearing Sunday–June 11–really irked me. "Rangers Among Parks’ Rarest Sights" addresses the under-funding of National Parks. These are the country’s gems. People come from the world over to go to Yosemite–Yellowstone–and others. This tourism undergirds local economies. Yet the purchasing power of the funds budgeted for the National Park Service has actually decreased in recent years. And just for good measure–Shrub’s budget proposal to Congress includes a $100,000,000 cut in the budget for next year. Just as with other aspects of government–the Neo-Conservatives’ objective is likely the same for parks: under-fund them to the point that they fall into disrepair; argue "See–we toljaso–government is no good at nuthin.’ We should privatize the parks;" then turn over OUR parks to recreation industry interests; finally–have visitors pay obscene amounts while corporate profiteers laugh all the way to the bank.
The other piece "A Student’s Forest Paper Sparks One Hot Debate" describes a study published in Science. This research looked at post-forest fire regrowth. It found more where the burnt trees were left standing than where they were "salvage" logged. This simple–substantiated fact has driven members of Congress to frivolous fulminations–exposed the student’s university president’s inappropriate behavior (a logging company funds part of the forest research there)–and yielded more evidence of the increasing political pressure on scientists to produce only right-wing-politically-acceptable results–reality be damned. You see there’s big money to be made by cutting the trees off OUR land. This scam costs the Forest Service around $1,000,000,000 annually because it is left holding the bag–maintaining remote roads–fighting logging induced/exacerbated fires–etc–after the loggers pay their nominal–one time–fees. So–when documented facts demonstrate that logged forests regenerate more slowly–all these money grubbing interests go berserk.
All this makes me proud of the RE-forestation efforts going on in Armenia–spearheaded by Armenia Tree Project–Armenian Forests NGO–and others. These efforts are also recreating bonds between people and land–a crucial factor to sustaining our homeland. They are also showing the power and ability of people united to fight off rapacious economic interests. So let’s do no less than our compatriots. Tell your member of the House and Senate what you think about the growing threats–due to their negligence–to OUR air–water–land–and ultimately–lives and future.