Salmon Run-Thru

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There is obviously a lot going on in very complicated debate on just how to count fish farm salmon for purposes of the Endangered Species Act. The Bush administration says farmed salmon are the same as wild salmon under the ESA. Some conservationists say that is nuts.

But this just points up the fact that the ESA was never really about animals, it was about habitat, specifically a law used to stop the development of habitats of species deemed to be under threat of extinction. If it is an Endangered Land Act some want, then let's have that debate.

Mmmm, salmon.

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  1. But the farm salmon and the wild salmon ARE the same… genetically. So why can’t a farm salmon = a wild salmon?

    Jean Bart, the ESA was for animals, not aesthetics. And if the number of genetically identical animals is growing, albeit because most of them are in a farm pond, the ESA and its supporters ought to be happy. The reality is tha many like the ESA because it allows them to enjoy “nature” as they like it, without consulting the owners of that nature.

  2. Make it stop!!!

    Jimmy, “Who gives a spotted owl’s ass about a dang snail darter? The next thing I expect is a save-the-skeeters protest in front of my house. I’ll slap em silly, and there’s nothing you can do about it, as it’s my house.” Species exist within certain habitats, and not others, because the creatures have characteristics which depend on the special conditions of those habitats. If you are driving a species to extinction through habitat destruction, it is because there are no other places that species can live. If there were, they would be living there already. Mosquitos have plenty of habitat in which to live.

    “The question is: if people are eating farmed fish, how much help do the wild salmon need? There are plenty around, as I’ve fished in the NW. It really depends on how much demand for wild salmon there is. If people want it more, folks will fish for it, but those same fishermen have an interest in not driving them to extinction.” Pacific are threatened mostly by habitat loss caused by the physical degradation of their spawning routes (damming rivers), not by overfishing. Fishing is more “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Addressing the real problem under the ESA would benefit the fishing fleets.

  3. Since the advent of cloning there are no more endangered species.

  4. Joe L.,

    Actually, genetically speaking farmed salmon are not the same; at least regarding robustness. One of the problems with cultivation is that the uniformity, etc. required to make it work well makes for more uniform plants, etc. genetically. Its what some historians of technology call a “revenge effect”; this must be countered by any number of strategies – from antibiotics for fish eggs in hatcheries to pesticides for corn. Of course its the need for concentration (a corn field is one larger platter of food for an insect) that also calls for these protective measures.

    Its these sorts of factors that make the difference really. As I wrote above, the Bush administration is simply ignoring the issue – do you want to save wild salmon or not? I believe its a good idea, but are good and valid reasons to disagree with that conclusions.

  5. “So why can’t a farm salmon = a wild salmon?”

    Because farmed salmon aren’t allowed to restock the wild population, and because farmed salmon aren’t allowed to to carry out the biotic activity of wild salmon.

  6. I always understood that without appropriate habitat to live in, endangered species – any species for that matter – won’t survive (unless, of course, we round ’em all up and keep ’em in zoos).

    Unless you’re a single-celled organism living in the ocean, you’re living proof that species do not all die out when their environment changes.

    For that matter, you as a human are living in an environment that bears no resemblance whatsoever to your “natural” environment — and, as a result, you have a much longer, happier life.

    The point here is that if the goal is preserving the *species*, then zoos and fish farms count. A lion has the same genetic makeup regardless of whether it’s in a zoo in Idaho or snacking on an emu someplace in Africa. The fact that you’ll have a hard time reintroducing the animals into the wild is relevant only if you assume that that is the goal of preservation.

    But I guess I was brainwashed by all of the summers I spent as a kid going to Adubon Society day camp.

    Depending on your age, yeah, probably. For example, I was taught, in wilderness camp, that the rate of species extinction has increased from something like “once a century” to “once an hour” — a shocking and horrifying fact of modern life, made less so only by the fact that there has never been even the tiniest shred of evidence to support the claim. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Hydroman, there ARE endangered species. That fact that I COULD clone the “The Tasmanian Drooling, Rabid, Wang-biter” does not mean that I WILL. So, until the species is cloned or “revived” it is endangered.

    One of the problems, one of many, of the ESA is the definition of “species” IIRC. The Snail Darter is not SPECIES, but a SUB-species of a family of Darters. Darters, as a whole, are NOT endangered, but Snail Darters may be, but the species of darter may not be threatened. But the ESA doesn’t recognize that difference.

  8. some many misconceptions, where do I sart?

    Jimmy Antley – Rest easy, I’m not an out of work logger (where’d you get that from anyway???)

    meep – based on your comment about animals that can’t survive off cultural life support, you obviously believe that only plants and animals that are able to survive in developed areas are worthy of living. That’s pretty sad. Why stop with animals – why not apply the same logic to people? That would certianly help to decrease the surplus population and reduce the need for government to steal our money to support deadbeat welfare cases.

    Joe L. – the increase in the number of genetically identical animals is NOT a casue for joy. The lack of diversity in a gene pool leads to increased vulnerability to disease, the increase of infertility and potentially the increased likelihood of extinction of the species.

    To all – Not everyone shares the very European/American/Capitalist belief that land, animals and the environement have value only to the extent that they can be exploited for human economic gain. There is intrinsic value to undeveloped land and unexploited resources. The biodiversity present in an healthy ecosystem prevents that econsystm from crashing. Things like clean water and clean air, the supression of disease carried by animals that can be tranmitted to humans, the maintenance of fish stock and other sustainably harvestable resources not to metion recreation potential and aesthetic qualities – the list could go on on and – anyway, all of these things are the benefits that humans get from healthy ecologies. Benifts need to be measured in more than growth or dollars and cents.

  9. Clear cut,
    And I don’t begrudge YOU the right and your friends to buy as much land/habitat as you can buy and hold it in trust, “wild forever.” HOWEVER, I do begrudge you and your friends, via regulatory/legislative diktat, informing ME that I can’t develop my land as I see fit. I see many aesthetic values in housing with a beautiful view. However, the ESA enshrines YOUR ability to to deny me my aesthetic…What you have is the ability to make me conform to YOUR value system.

  10. Wild vs. farm, species vs. habitat, human need and consumption vs. natural preservation. All are worthy of debate and discussion, but maybe we’re missing the point. What constitutional function of government does ESA serve? Why is it the government’s business at all?

    Remove the government from the equation, and private environmental interests could work with business interests toward compromise and common goals. Having the government as the decision-weilding parent in the middle ensures that both sides will remain adversaries in a constant battle to “win” through legislation and regulatory protection.

  11. The people who tried to stop the Tellico Dam by invoking the snail darter were trying to preserve property rights against the TVA juggernaut. The resulting lake ended up covering thousands of acres of private property in return for a miniscule increase in generating capacity. It was a brilliant strategy. However, the FWS just declared the snail darter no longer endangered and let TVA have its way.

  12. Joe L
    Put the little buggers in liquid O2 and seal em in a mason jar in the basement.Then when you want a wooly mammoth brisket for that Memorial Day BBQ,just clone that sucker.

  13. logger: “based on your comment about animals that can’t survive off cultural life support, you obviously believe that only plants and animals that are able to survive in developed areas are worthy of living.”

    Wrong. That would only be ‘obviously’ true if every square mile of the country/planet were urban asphalt. Take a drive through the American Midwest and you’ll see that there is plenty of open space left. However, I *do* believe that, all else being equal, the interest of humans trumps that of animals, no matter how cute or tasty they may be.

    “Why stop with animals – why not apply the same logic to people? That would certianly help to decrease the surplus population and reduce the need for government to steal our money to support deadbeat welfare cases.”

    Why would you assume I don’t apply that logic to people? But the population problem basically takes care of itself. Culturally though, how about Native Americans? What benefit are the millions of square miles of mostly empty reservation space? Reservations today are theme parks with no benefit to either the natives or to whitey other than a legal place to gamble. But it’s politically unfashionable to say so. So what if the “authentic” native culture dies out completely–I’d argue it already has, notwithstanding the living museums you can visit today.

    And here’s a tangential pet peeve of mine: why is it that so often, the people who insist on Darwinian origins for humans refuse to allow the continuation of the process? So many of those who revere Darwin and smirk at mention of God are the first in line to make sure that humans actively thwart the survival of the fittest law when it comes to other species. I have no problem with a monkey or a fish being in my genetic family tree, but that doesn’t mean I should feel the need to save them today. Humans take moral precedence over other animals’ needs because we can say we do, and that’s all the preroggative we need. That’s not a “might makes right” argument, that’s pure ethics.

  14. Hydroman, and some people say Science is BAD… Wooly Mammoth, kewl just like Fred Flinstone… My wife’s cuter than Wilma, though.

  15. You`re a lucky man Joe L , I always had the hots for Wilma.

  16. Dan said: “The point here is that if the goal is preserving the *species*, then zoos and fish farms count. A lion has the same genetic makeup regardless of whether it’s in a zoo in Idaho or snacking on an emu someplace in Africa.”

    This may be true for the individual lion, but it’s definitely not true for the population of lions. Breeding populations in the wild are much larger than anything that could be maintained in a zoo, and this allows for the presence of much more genetic diversity (which provides benefits for long-term survival of those populations/species). As others have mentioned, this is one reason why farmed salmon populations (with very little genetic diversity) are not the same as wild salmon populations.

    On the farmed salmon question, one reason why it may not be sustainable as it’s currently practiced is that the large offshore salmon farms are polluting the surrounding waters, and escaped farmed salmon are causing problems for wild salmon populations. On a thread here several weeks ago the question came up of why these salmon farms needed to be offshore instead of in contained inland lakes/tanks, but no one knew the anwser.

    meep said: “Humans take moral precedence over other animals’ needs because we can say we do, and that’s all the preroggative we need. That’s not a “might makes right” argument, that’s pure ethics.”

    The moral argument for preservation of other species is only part of the issue. Another argument is more practical ? how and how much do humans benefit (financially, medically, aesthetically, etc.) from the preservation of other species. It?s hard to give a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but there are definitely large and often non-obvious or non-intuitive benefits to preserving some species and habitats.

  17. And J and Clear Cut, may preserve as much habitat as they can afford… I am sure that at one time Wozniak and Jobs asked for investors. I’d imagine that NOW some folks are kicking themselves in the butt for having not been “visionary” enough. Buy now, invest now, it might pay off OR you may be saving up your reqrd in Heaven. I can’t say… but, do we have to limit my rights to develop land that I have purchased for these ephemeral “goods” you list?
    I don’t really mean that as an attack. You may be right, or you may not. If you are right, in the end you will have done “Good” and may make out like a bandit, financially too. I just don’t feel that I want you to be able to limit my investment plan.

  18. Breeding populations in the wild are much larger than anything that could be maintained in a zoo, and this allows for the presence of much more genetic diversity (which provides benefits for long-term survival of those populations/species).

    Obviously small, captive populations have less genetic diversity than wild populations. And yes, this makes them more vulnerable to disease. But what you’re ignoring is the inescapable fact that animals in captivity are watched by humans who don’t *want* them diseased, makes them dramatically *less* vulnerable to disease. Are cows and wheat less genetically diverse than their species were when we first “took custody” of them? Yes — but they are also dramatically more successful.

    Furthermore, you seem to be placing an infinite value on the continued existance of a species. The value of the survival of most species, to humans, is not only finite, but actually pretty small. Even if captive species were more likely to go extinct than wild ones — a dramatically unsupported allegation — it does not necessarily follow that we should prefer to leave the animals in the wild.

  19. Joe L. askes a great question about why we (we beingthe government)have to limit his rights to develop his land The answer also addresses why the government has to be involved in the process.

    The basic reason is that ecologies do not respect the artifically created and imposed boundries that humans use to define their property. What you do with or on your property affects the environment for all of your neighbors and impacts the ecology well beyond the end of your property line. This should be obvious to everyone.

    Since most attempts to preserve an ecology or a species involve many cross-property line and trans-jurisdictional issues between land owners, states, regions, hemispheres etc. idividuals cannot deal with the issues in any meaningful way, except on a very limited and local level. Example: No matter how hard I work or how much money I invest, I cannot control pollution on the entire Mississippi river. It takes large institutions (i.e. governments) to set policies and enforce them over large regions so that there is uniformity of use patterns on each individual plot of land.

    To those who think that environmental policy/actions should be done on an individual and private level, tell me how one or one million like-minded individuals can solve the acid rain problem? They can’t. The sourcs of acid rain are deeply intertwined with the way our society gets and uses its electrical power. Only the combined efforts on governments can address large scale problems like this.

  20. Joe L. said: ??.You may be right, or you may not. If you are right, in the end you will have done “Good” and may make out like a bandit, financially too. I just don’t feel that I want you to be able to limit my investment plan.?

    Err?I can?t speak for Clear Cut, but I didn?t say a single word about my support for or opposition to laws limiting land development or the ESA, or my intentions with regard to your investment plan. I would definitely support more private conservation efforts (along the lines of The Nature Conservancy, their recent financial follies notwithstanding), but I also think there?s a significant role for the gov?t to play although I would do a lot of things differently. I was just responding to some other comments on more scientific issues.

  21. And here’s a tangential pet peeve of mine: why is it that so often, the people who insist on Darwinian origins for humans refuse to allow the continuation of the process? So many of those who revere Darwin and smirk at mention of God are the first in line to make sure that humans actively thwart the survival of the fittest law when it comes to other species

    Your problem is that you don’t comprehend evolution at all. The statement “thwart the survival of the fittest law” makes absolutely *no* sense in the context of evolution. It only makes sense if you equate “how nature actually DOES work” with “the good and moral way that nature SHOULD work”. Christians do that; scientists don’t.

    Self-reproducing organisms have inheritable traits that, themselves, affect the odds of those traits being passed on to the next generation. This is a simple, proven, fact. This process causes species to diverge (creating new species) or change over time; this, too, is a simple, proven fact.

    Your problem is that you wrongly consider evolution to be a direct parallel to your own religious beliefs — that people who understand the theory of evolution WANT things to work that way and believe they SHOULD work that way, just as Christians believe that the world is as it is because of God’s will. This is incorrect. If plague wipes out half of a nation, an evolutionary biologist may observe that the survivors are, on average, people who were more-resistant to the disease, and that we may expect the surviving population of the nation as a whole to be, as a result, more-resistant to the disease. These are simple, factual observations — they do not equate to the evolutionary biologist saying “it was good that those people died”.

    You can’t “thwart” natural selection. Humans, after all, are a *part* of nature. All you can do is change the kinds of selective pressures. If, as may happen, only those species which humans actually like having around survive, that, too, will be natural selection. Rather than the selective force being “cold” or “heat” or “limited food supply” or the like, the selective force will be “things that humans find cute, funny, or delicious”. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. “I personally think that there is a lot of value in wild species – aesthetic mostly though. But that’s not a reason not to grow fish industrially.” WTF, Jean???

    Joe, I spent a lot of time in the NW. I know about the effect of the dams. They are there to stay. There are some wild rivers and some tame rivers that have plenty of salmon, that is, if the Indians don’t take them all with net fishing. Like I said, it’s in the interest of fishermen to not kill them off. And, the skeeter thing was a joke. You know, like funny and all.

    Jeff Taylor’s point is that he doesn’t appreciate people lying about the extinction of this or that species, when they really want to take your property rights. Actually, according to the poster, in the Richard Russell (?) dam case, it was to keep their property. Either way, just stop bullshitting and say what you mean.

    Joe L. has it exactly right. Put your money where your big mouth is – If you care about the land, buy it. I have respect for groups like the Nature Conservancy because that’s what they do. In the process, they discover that land does not just become a park for human enjoyment on it’s own. Sometimes it must be taken care of (the way your average individual property owner does) to keep it’s value for the purpose you want (be it hiking, snowmobiling, ranching, or whatever).

  23. The one species the Endangered Species Act is sure to preserve is lawyers and money-grubbing land grabbing “environmental” groups.

  24. Dan said: ?But what you’re ignoring is the inescapable fact that animals in captivity are watched by humans who don’t *want* them diseased, makes them dramatically *less* vulnerable to disease.?

    I’m well aware of the fact that zookeepers, farmers, and ranchers are in fact trying to keep the animals and plants in their care alive. And yet despite their best efforts there are still on rare occasion diseases that devastate captive populations and crops. And susceptibility to infectious disease is not the only problem associated with small populations and genetic homogeneity. Another, especially in animals, is health problems associated with inbreeding, which are seen in some captive populations and some wild populations that have little diversity. Once that diversity is lost there?s very little that can be done about this problem in the short term.

    ?Furthermore, you seem to be placing an infinite value on the continued existance of a species. The value of the survival of most species, to humans, is not only finite, but actually pretty small. Even if captive species were more likely to go extinct than wild ones — a dramatically unsupported allegation — it does not necessarily follow that we should prefer to leave the animals in the wild.?

    I?m not sure where you got the notion, but I?m certainly not placing infinite value on the continued existence of a given species. Obviously many species have gone extinct (and many more will go extinct) and the rest of us have managed to carry on. That doesn’t mean we haven’t lost something of significant value when certain of those species went extinct.
    Regarding the ?pretty small? value of most species, for any given species its (financial, medical, ecological, etc.) value could very well be quite small, could potentially be quite large, and in either case is generally exceptionally hard to know with any accuracy until it goes.

  25. Wow, Dan, you really misread my comment–put some of your own assumptions in there, didn’t you? I have no religious beliefs on this matter and thus that can’t be the cause of “my problem”.

    And believe me, I understand that evolution is not a thing in itself, or a natural law, but rather a name we give ex post facto to a set of processes. So let me respecify: the “people” I refer to are ironically interested in counteracting the processes by which humans evolved to be here in the first place to form an opinion on the matter.

    I will admit there is some consistency here. But only if you think that humans have no moral or ethical standing above slime molds does it make sense to preserve dying species for it’s own sake. Otherwise you’d think it would make sense to evolve species that thrive along with humans and their effects on “natural” environments.

  26. I’m well aware of the fact that zookeepers, farmers, and ranchers are in fact trying to keep the animals and plants in their care alive. And yet despite their best efforts there are still on rare occasion diseases that devastate captive populations and crops

    As opposed to in nature, where that never happens.

  27. ‘Unless you’re a single-celled organism living in the ocean, you’re living proof that species do not all die out when their environment changes.

    For that matter, you as a human are living in an environment that bears no resemblance whatsoever to your “natural” environment’

    So because some species can survive some human-induced changes, all species can survive all human induced changes? Weak, dude.

    JOe L, “I don’t begrudge YOU the right and your friends to buy as much land/habitat as you can buy and hold it in trust, “wild forever.” HOWEVER, I do begrudge you and your friends, via regulatory/legislative diktat, informing ME that I can’t develop my land as I see fit.” And I don’t begrudge you and your friends the right to preserve human lives with your own efforts, HOWEVER, I do begrudge you and your friends, via regulatory/legislative diktat, informing ME that I can’t operate my organ harvesting business as I see fit.

    What’s that, human life is a value that the government should protect? And who exactly decides which values get protected and which don’t?

    And Dan, why are “cute” and “delicious” more appropriate values to guide our policies than “majestic” and “natural?”

  28. Clear,
    On the Mississippi River issue, maybe private ownership of the waterways would result in sensible water pollution policies. Private owners would have to consider the river’s value as recreation, transportation, water source, dumping place, the rights of those downstream, the costs involved, and balance it all out. The State tends to swing from one extreme to another – one generation allowing all manner of pollution in the name of progress, the next generation mandating zero emissions. One year the feds are paying farmers to turn wetlands into farmland, the next they are decreeing all pools of standing water to be protected wetlands.

    As for the acid rain issue, a little truth about the supposed effects of acid rain would go a long way. A few years ago I read an article in Reason concerning the findings of the fed’s 10-year $600 million study on acid rain. Turns out conservation efforts were responsible for a lot of the increased acidity in Northern lakes (The return of trees resulted in greater tannic acid run-off. I was talking to a former forester about the article and he anticipated what I was going to say even though he had never even heard of the study.). We are spending billions on air pollution measures that will, at best, have a marginal effect on the lakes. Even that marginal effect could have been accomplished at a much lower cost without a “one size fits all” solution from Congress.

  29. By value I mean, the same as “Truth,” Beauty” etc. not simply monetary value. I’m not a Libertarian by any stretch of the imagination. We are talking polics here. I feel that a utilitarian calculation shows or can show that private property as opposed to government action can preserve the habitat of species. I think ESA is a bad approach to conservation.

    I’d propose the “license to kill” approach. If it can be determined we would try to maintain about 90% of a species genetic material. You could destroy 10%, but have to buy the right to destroy it or find a way preserve it. As the diversity level drops the value of the remaining development areas increases, for wildlife sanctuaries, or parks, or for high value homes or industrial development. It puts a price in genetic diversity and allows various consumers to decide whether they care to particiapate in a given enterprise or not.

    This does give government a say, more in a framework sense, though. But the governmetn and the civil society to get to determine which values are to be preserved and which get short shrift. My proposal allows for more progmatic and developmental diversity than the ESA approach.

  30. So let me respecify: the “people” I refer to are ironically interested in counteracting the processes by which humans evolved to be here in the first place to form an opinion on the matter

    You still don’t get it. There’s no such thing as “counteracting the processes by which humans evolve”. If we intervene to keep wild salmon alive and viable, we aren’t “counteracting evolution”. We’re just changing the kinds of selective pressure that the species of the world undergo. Even if we could magically wave a wand and save all species from extinction, and preserve them in safe little habitats, they would *still* keep evolving, because the individual members of the species would still be in competition with each other.

    But let’s go far into Fantasyland and pretend that we really could “thwart” evolution. Why would it be “ironic” that we would “deny” evolution to plants and animals after “benefitting” from it ourselves? We raise plants and animals for our own selfish purposes, kill them, and eat them, even though we wouldn’t want the same thing to happen to us. I don’t see the irony there; we’re human and they aren’t.

    But only if you think that humans have no moral or ethical standing above slime molds does it make sense to preserve dying species for it’s own sake.

    We preserve dying species because many people consider the species worth keeping around. What could possibly make more sense than that? That’s the only reason we ever keep anything around.

  31. There is certainly room for improvement in current conservation policies, and market-based incentive systems have achieved good results in some cases.

    This environmentalist is all in favor of the government adopting that regulatory framework that will do the best job. If it makes Exxon bitch, too bad. If it makes anti-capitalists taking a free ride on legitimate environmentalism bitch, too bad.

  32. So because some species can survive some human-induced changes, all species can survive all human induced changes? Weak, dude.

    I agree it’s weak, and I suggest you stop saying it.

    If, on the other hand, you’re suggesting *I* said it, pull your head out of your ass — the original poster claimed that putting a species in the “wrong” environment was invariably fatal to the entire species, and I simply pointed out that that’s obviously not true. Obviously species *can* be wiped out due to environmental changes, since, well, it’s happened.

    And Dan, why are “cute” and “delicious” more appropriate values to guide our policies than “majestic” and “natural?”

    Everything is natural. The fact that the word “unnatural” exists at all just proves that humans have no common sense.

    I suppose “majestic” animals stand a better chance than the non-majestic ones, though.

  33. Dan said: ?As opposed to in nature, where that never happens.?

    Somehow you seem to be under the impression I’m denying the fact that sometimes animals die and species go extinct for purely non-human reasons. Yes, obviously disease can devastate natural populations, especially ones with very little genetic diversity (which can happen for a variety of reasons, including human-induced habitat loss and fragmentation). Obviously it?s happened before and will happen again, both for ?natural? and human-induced reasons. Obviously it?s a lot more likely to happen when genetic diversity is very limited, and obviously that?s the case with a whole lot of captive populations.
    The question is not whether species go extinct naturally/populations crash due to disease naturally/invasions occur naturally. They all do. And when they do, we may or may not lose something of significant value (financial, ecological, etc.) to us. That doesn?t mean we shouldn?t be worried about causing these things to occur ourselves. From a purely practical standpoint, sometimes it won?t hurt (or not too much), sometimes it will ? if we do it a lot, we?re going to get burned.

  34. Somehow you seem to be under the impression I’m denying the fact that sometimes animals die and species go extinct for purely non-human reasons.

    No, I’m under the impression that you think that a human-controlled, small, non-diverse population is more likely to be wiped out than a large, uncontrolled, diverse population is. I think that history suggests the opposite is true.

    Obviously it?s a lot more likely to happen when genetic diversity is very limited, and obviously that?s the case with a whole lot of captive populations.

    And obviously it’s a lot less likely to happen when humans have a vested economic interest in it not happening — which is the case with a whole lot of captive populations, and few of the non-captive ones. In addition to that, captive species can be kept isolated from one another; wild species cannot.

    And when they [go extinct], we may or may not lose something of significant value (financial, ecological, etc.) to us. That doesn?t mean we shouldn?t be worried about causing these things to occur ourselves. From a purely practical standpoint, sometimes it won?t hurt (or not too much), sometimes it will ? if we do it a lot, we?re going to get burned.

    From a purely practical standpoint, if we keep letting species go extinct, we *might* get burned. Or we might benefit. It is not reasonable to say that it is a given that we eventually *will* get burned, especially considering that the extinctions of species to date have been either good or neutral from a human perspective.

    Furthermore, even if it were *known* that we’d eventually get burned, that wouldn’t be a reason to stop species extinctions. As a parallel — if people keep eating wheat, eventually some of them will have fatal allergic reactions to doing so. Yet people still eat wheat — even though it presents a known, albeit small, danger. It all comes down to cost-benefit analysis.

    Now, what is the *known* cost of letting all the wild salmon in the world die? $0. What is the *known* risk? That the *captive* salmon will all die too, eliminating one of the tastier sushi dishes from our menu — but that risk is exceedingly remote, on par with “losing all of the cows in the world to disease”. What is the *known* cost of preserving a viable wild salmon population? In the long run, hundreds of millions of dollars (the land value) at a minimum.

    Now we can assign all sorts of hypothetical costs and effects to the loss of wild salmon, but it’s all speculative, and there isn’t any actual scientific basis for believing that the extinction of salmon will have a noteworthy impact on the ecosystem. So we’re talking, here, about spending huge piles of money to ward off a quite possibly nonexistant danger. It’s not rational, in my opinion.

    No, the case for keeping wild salmon around is that some people want them kept around. That is the one *known* positive of wild salmon — they are, for want of a better term, aesthetically pleasing.

  35. Because it would cost $10 more to preserve the native population (that generates economic value), Dan wants to let it go. But it’s ok, because we can spend $20 to maintain it in captivity to achieve the same value. But if something goes wrong, we have the capital to spend $100 to keep it going. So you can see why spending the first $10 would have been a bad idea.

    Your economics are as miserable as your environmental biology.

  36. “This environmentalist is all in favor of the government adopting that regulatory framework that will do the best job.”

    There aren’t too many environmentalists this one, unfortunately. Instead, we get asinine Calculate Your Footprint tools and hundreds of billions in regulations that, by their own admission, will have no measurable impact on the problem as they see it.

    I am only recently getting over my reflexive anti greenism because these are the only arguments I hear. And I hear them a lot.

  37. Farmed salmon are not the same as wild salmon; and yes the Bush administration is nuts. Now if you want to get rid of wild salmon, that’s fine; but don’t expect farmed salmon to ever re-populate the areas where their wild cousins once bred, etc. You will always have to farm the farmed salmon in other words. I think they just trying to avoid the real debate – should you keep real salmon around or not?

  38. By his “ketchup is a vegetable” argument, zoos and farms are the cure to endangered species. Just keep the animals around for amusement and eating purposes, and they’re no longer endangered. This means we’re going to have to start acquiring a taste for California condor, panda, and rhino.

  39. Jeff –

    I guess I’m too simple-minded ’cause I just don’t understand how the issue of species preservation can be separated from habitat conservation. I always understood that without appropriate habitat to live in, endangered species – any species for that matter – won’t survive (unless, of course, we round ’em all up and keep ’em in zoos). But I guess I was brainwashed by all of the summers I spent as a kid going to Adubon Society day camp.

    Please enlighten me as to why your conclusion that “…the ESA was never really about animals, it was about habitat…” should merit anything more than a “yes, and your point is….?” kind of response.

  40. Clear Cut,
    For the ESA, when written, habitat may have = species, but now it need not. If the salmon, the species, are in farms, they exist and they are not endangered. Farming breaks the link between species and habitat.
    If there is no danger of extinction, why do we need to restrict people’s right to develop. And the submitter makes a good point that you reinforce, this was about limiting property rights and land as much as the animals themselves.

  41. Randy, get out of the eighties, my man. Are you in some kind of time warp? The “ketchup is a vegetable” comment was attributed to Ronald Reagan, and actually tomatos are vegatables, like it or not. I think it came up in a talk about governement school free lunches, which I dont’ believe in.

    To the out of work logger: I hope you’re not costing us all money being on the dole and all.
    Jeff’s point, as far as I know, is that this spotted owl bullcrap and the like are backhanded ways to take over private property, or to take away rights that were formerly granted on public property. Turns out there are spotted owls living in other forests than the ones debated over in the 80’s.

    If you want to make land off limits to certain uses, say so, and don’t bring up any crap about snail darters. Who gives a spotted owl’s ass about a dang snail darter? The next thing I expect is a save-the-skeeters protest in front of my house. I’ll slap em silly, and there’s nothing you can do about it, as it’s my house.

    Jean Bart, absolutely the farm salmon are not the same, so the Bush people are wrong on that. The question is: if people are eating farmed fish, how much help do the wild salmon need? There are plenty around, as I’ve fished in the NW. It really depends on how much demand for wild salmon there is. If people want it more, folks will fish for it, but those same fishermen have an interest in not driving them to extinction.

  42. Jimmy Antley,

    Well, as I recall, the hope was that the farmed salmon would take the pressure off the wild salmon; whether that occurs or not I don’t know. I do know that the only way fish like cod, salmon, etc. will continue to be eaten by humans is to farm them (indeed, farming them will likely lead to more and more people being able to afford eating them); nature – without some production help from humans – simply can’t deal with the pressures we place on natural fish stocks. The same is true for a whole host of things that humans grow – imagine if we did not cultivate various grains in the from their wild cousins for example.

    I personally think that there is a lot of value in wild species – aesthetic mostly though. But that’s not a reason not to grow fish industrially.

  43. To my knowledge, “farmed” fish aren’t the same as fish that are hatched and then released into the wild. Regardless of where they are born, salmon in the wild have the same diet (and flavor).

    But regardless, don’t give me any crap about saving species (and the habitats) for the species’ sake. Where’s the movements to save the insect species that go extinct each year? Diversity is a good in its own right, and we shouldn’t wantonly destroy it, but nor should we prevent untold millions of dollars worth of development, productivity, etc–for the sake of a hundred animals who will likely never be able to survive off of cultural life-support.

    Hugging trees is fine, but sometimes nature needs tough love.

  44. So if we kill all the farm salmon they will not be really dead…sice some of you simple monded do not admit they exist…think I’ll go fishing…

  45. So if we kill all the farm salmon they will not be really dead…since some of you simple monded do not admit they exist…think I’ll go fishing…

  46. So if we kill all the farm salmon they will not be really dead…since some of you simple monded do not admit they exist…think I’ll go fishing…

  47. So if we kill all the farm salmon they will not be really dead…since some of you simple minded do not admit they exist…think I’ll go fishing…

  48. So if we kill all the farm salmon they will not be really dead…since some of you simple minded do not admit they exist…think I’ll go fishing…

  49. So if we kill all the farm salmon they will not be really dead…since some of you simple minded do not admit they exist…think I’ll go fishing…

  50. So if we kill all the farm salmon they will not be really dead…since some of you simple minded do not admit they exist…think I’ll go fishing…

  51. What’s wrong with calculating your footprint? What makes you think that it is inherently anti-capitalist to substitute brains for brawn, a delicate touch for “throw it all together, sort it back out later?”

  52. JAT, the endangered species is both the metric for the endangered land, and in many people’s minds, the value being protected via the preservation of that land.

    “Why should we preserve that flooded forest?”

    “Because the such and such lives there.”

    “Why should we preserve the such and such?”

    debate begins.

    Why are those first two sentences so important to you?

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