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Humanity Isn't Destroying the Natural World. We're Changing It.

Welcome to Anthropocene Park.

Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction, by Chris D. Thomas, PublicAffairs, 320 pages, $28

PublicAffairsPublicAffairsHumanity isn't destroying the natural world. We're changing it. And in many ways, our changes are creating richer and more vibrant ecosystems.

That's the persuasive and liberating argument advanced by the York University conservation biologist Chris D. Thomas in his riveting new book, Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction. "It is time for the ecological, conservation and environmental movement—of which I am a life-long member—to throw off the shackles of a pessimism-laden, loss-only view of the world," he writes. Instead, he thinks a thriving world of exotic ecosystems and biological renewal is at hand. By the time readers have finished this carefully researched treatise, they should agree.

Thomas' thesis isn't exactly the conventional wisdom. In her Pulitzer-winning 2015 book The Sixth Extinction (Henry Holt and Co.), journalist Elizabeth Kolbert argues that current species losses are comparable to the five prior mass extinctions that have occurred in the past 540 million years. In each case, around 75 percent of then-living species were killed off. Kolbert and the biologists she cites suggest not just that a sixth such event is underway but that human activities are the chief cause of the disaster.

Last year, the Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich made a similar argument in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluding that all trends are "painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life." Inheritors of the Earth brilliantly demonstrates that there are good scientific reasons to doubt these dire prophecies.

Thomas forthrightly acknowledges that the "'extinction crisis' is real" and "we are in the process of losing many species that existed before humans arrived on the scene." Researchers estimate that 178 of the world's largest mammal species disappeared before 1500. Since then, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature reports that 2 percent of mammals, 1.6 percent of birds, and 2 percent of amphibians have gone extinct. "This loss is devastating," Thomas writes, "but, luckily, it isn't the whole story."

He observes that by 2000, human beings accounted for about 30 percent of the biomass of all land mammals, with our domestic livestock making up 67 percent of the rest. Due to human activities, the total amount of mammal flesh is "over seven times greater than it was before humans came along." And this does not take into account the billions of domestic poultry we raise. The upshot is that "the natural state of the world—to be full of large herbivorous animals and carnivores that eat them—continues to the present day."

Meanwhile, as people grow wealthier and agriculture more productive, fewer folks have to hunt for food or cut down forests for farms, so more space opens up for the return of wild nature. As a result, European bison have grown from a single wild population to 33; beaver populations have increased by 14,000 percent since mid-century; deer and wild boar in Europe have quadrupled since 1960.

Predators are increasing, too. For example, European gray wolf and lynx populations have risen by more than 300 percent since the '60s.

Similarly, the white-tailed deer population in the United States went from 300,000 in the 1930s to over 30 million today; bison have gone from just over 1,000 in 1890 to more than half a million today. Black bears were locally extinct in many parts of the contiguous United States in 1900; more than 300,000 are now estimated to roam the lower 48 states. Killed off in the eastern U.S. by the 1930s, mountain lions now number more than 30,000 and are spreading eastward. "Once we stop killing them, large animals come back, rejoining the 90-plus percent of smaller ones that never disappeared in the first place," observes Thomas.

Humanity is also creating a new Pangaea by moving thousands of species around the globe and thereby increasing local biodiversity almost everywhere. We are, in Thomas' words, "acting as dispersal agents for other plants and animals."

New Zealand's 2,000 native plant species have been joined by 2,000 from elsewhere, doubling the plant biodiversity of its islands. Meanwhile, only three of New Zealand's native plants have gone extinct. In California, 1,000 new species of vascular plants have joined the state's 6,000 native species, while fewer than 30 species have gone extinct. Overall, Thomas estimates that "roughly one in a thousand species that arrives [at a new location] causes a real issue for the native animals and plants."

Indeed, moving species around has turned some that were on the brink of extinction into ecological winners. Take the Monterey Pine: Endangered in its California coastal homeland, it is now thriving in New Zealand, Chile, Australia, Argentina, Kenya, and South Africa. Accumulating evidence shows that many introduced species of plants and animals are improving ecosystems by increasing local biomass and speeding up the recycling of nutrients and energy.

As plants and animals populate new regions, they start down different evolutionary paths that are already transforming some of them into new species. Spanish star thistles transplanted to California and allowed time to evolve are much less fertile when crossbred with their European ancestors—a sign that the two sets of thistles have significantly diverged. Australian crickets in Hawaii have evolved so that they no longer chirp and thus have a greater chance of staying hidden from the flies that want to lay their eggs on them. European hawthorn flies have adapted to lay their eggs on apples in North America. "We are living through a period of rapid formation of new populations, races, and species," Thomas writes.

Many ecologists view this worldwide mixing and matching with revulsion. Neophobe biologists James Russell and Tim Blackburn, for instance, recently denounced researchers who do not automatically condemn introduced biota as "invasive species denialists," likening them to people who challenge the scientific consensus on "the risks of tobacco smoking or immunisation, the causes of AIDS or climate change, [and] evidence for evolution."

Such researchers behave, Thomas writes, "as if there is an 'ought to be' state of the world, with each species having its own 'correct' location." But species and ecosystems have been evolving for eons. "Nature just happens, and the distributions of species change—no slice of time has any more or less merit than any other."

At the end of the last ice age, continental glaciers reached 300 to 400 miles north of where my house now stands in central Virginia. The countryside then consisted of forests of spruce, fir, jack pine, alder, and birch; mammoths and musk oxen roamed within them.

As the climate warmed, these trees and oxen moved north to Canada and the mammoths went extinct. While the glaciers melted, deciduous trees like poplar, oak, hickory, and chestnut began their march out of various southern refugia and became preponderant in the local forests.

Photo Credit: PublicAffairs

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  • JoeBlow123||

    "Let's loose elephants, lions, cheetahs, camels, and llamas to roam unpopulated regions of the West."

    I for one look forward to the day when we can ostracize Americans in America for shooting elephants.

  • Bubba Jones||

    What do we do to people who shoot ostrich?

  • Eric Bana||

    Elephacize them.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Pin medals on them.

  • Entelechy||

    Make them make them into wallets .

  • soldiermedic76||

    This is one of the largest disconnects in the environmentalist movement. They don't realize how managed hunting actually benefits species. Many articles, even by scientist, have pointed out that the African countries that allow big game hunting have more bio-diversity and less poaching than neighboring countries that ban it. And the countries that allow hunting have growing animal populations.
    The North American model of game conservation has resulted in the recovery of 100s of species. Hunters and fisherman/women are the best conservationist in the world. Spend more time and money on conservation efforts than all the so called environmentalist groups combined.

  • soldiermedic76||

    And the decreasing in the number of hunting and fishing licenses in the USA has the experts in the field very concerned about future conservation efforts.

  • epsilon given||

    Encouraging controlled hunting is another example of how working with humans as if they are a part of the environment helps everyone involved.

    In places where hunting is banned, the local villagers have no incentive to help hunt down poachers; indeed, they even privately like the fact that poachers take out pests that destroy crops and kill children and adults!

    But if the villagers can benefit economically from the animals: the former poachers become guides, the villagers get meat and sustenance, and they view the animals as a resource that needs to be carefully managed, rather than a menace that harms them. Indeed, they can even cull the herds before they get so large that they start trampling on crops and eating people. And woe to the new poachers, who are now destroying the livelihood of the villagers, rather than just killing potential pests! The villagers come after such with a vengeance.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Ron (and Thomas), THANKS for the good news!

    But, being an habitual sourpuss, I will now go and cry in my beer, about the possible impending extinction of the Lesser Poughkeepsian Southern Slime-Bellied Turd-Dwelling Paramecium's endemic parasitical bacteria, known as the BR549 strain of Lesserus Poughkeepsius Slime-Bellicus Clostridium!

  • Ecoli||

    Congratulations! That was a good one.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Even plants are cultural appropriators. Kill them all!

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    OT, but speaking of cultural appropriation ... "The student-led #NeverAgain movement" which I am astounded to see is a ban-the-gun movement, culturally appropriating the Jewish slogan. Talk about culturally insensitive!

  • Bubba Jones||

    Voting should be limited to people between the age of 30 and 60.

    Likewise politicians should be limited to those ages.

  • Echospinner||

    "L'olam lo od".

    If we could all understand and act on that the world would be a better place.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Since ecological change is inevitable, Thomas urges us to throw aside static notions of restoring local ecosystems to some imagined prehuman Edenic state. Instead, we should embrace our central role in molding the natural world and become more proactive in managing species and landscapes."

    The greatest barrier is often government entities that are supposedly committed to conservation.

    My go-to example remains sea otters on the California coast. Because sea otters feast on sea urchins, who, in turn, feast on the roots of giant kelp, there is probably no more transformative species in terms of rebuilding an ecologically rich environment. When we trapped the sea otters to extinction, the sea urchins proliferated and wiped out the kelp forests along the coast of California. Where there were once thousands of square miles of forest, with all the biodiversity such an ecosystem sustains, there is now only a desert.

    When the California sea otters came back, the Fish and Wildlife service did everything they could to stop them. Why? Because local fishermen didn't ant to compete with ravenous sea otters for sea urchins, which are valuable as "uni" in sushi restaurants. The California sea otters were even on the endangered species list--but that didn't stop the Fish and Wildlife Service from killing half of them in an attempt to keep them away from "uni" harvesting operations.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Someone's been watching Blue Planet II

  • Ken Shultz||

    I have no idea what that is.

    I've been screaming about sea otters here for ore than ten years.

  • LynchPin1477||

    You're missing out.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'll check it out.

  • Ska||

    It's BBC nature stuff. Some pretty cool images if you're into wildlife shows.

  • Ken Shultz||

    This is an excellent article on the topic from six years ago.

    https://www.outsideonline.com/ 1903631/there-are-no-otters-here

    Things have changed since then, but still: there is no better example of government conservation efforts flying in the face of the interests of conservation than the sea otter exclusion zone was.

    If the agencies involved in conservation were truly about conservation, they would be doing everything they can to help sea otters proliferate along the California coast.

    Explaining this to my fellow Californians (those who care about CO2 and cute cuddly sea koalas and think that government is the solution), it's is a bit like being Stephen before the Sanhedrin. He told them their job was to watch for the messiah, but when the messiah showed up, they killed him. They dragged Stephen outside and stoned him on the spot for that. I tell them that their stupid environmental agencies are facilitating the very destruction of the environment, and they don't lynch me.

    But they want to. They really do.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Another great example is the USFS. Obama's (and Clinton's) misguided cave in to the environmentalist that led to less managed logging in our National Forests have actually greatly decreased forest health. It has allowed for more rampant disease and insect outbreaks that kill off trees, creating fuel for devastating, fast moving fires that sterilize the soil and kill off huge numbers of wild life. Additionally, the overcrowded forests also have hurt wildlife by decreasing food resources. Trees are not great food source for most animals, and outcompete better food sources such as grasses and forbs. This has greatly hurt elk and deer populations in the Northern Rockies (Idaho and Montana). The very efforts of environmentalist has actually done far more harm then good.

  • soldiermedic76||

    And it has also hurt smaller game such as forest grouse (sprice, ruffed and blue) which depend on edge hanitat for nesting and feeding.

  • ace_m82||

    Mountain grouse hunting is SO FUN if you have the physical conditioning for it! Nothing like shooting (at) the "turbo forest chickens"!

  • soldiermedic76||

    When I was a kid, I. Idaho's panhandle, grouse we so numerous we called them road chickens. Last time I took my son out we barely saw any. The difference, logging was prevalent when I was younger.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Wow, I type terribly on my phone. In Idaho... Grouse we're so numerous.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Wow, I type terribly on my phone. In Idaho... Grouse we're so numerous.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    You might enjoy a funny sea otter story.

    I was with a girlfriend at the Monterey aquarium, drifting along the displays, and as we passed the sea otter tank, two of them zoomed past, one giving a blowjob to the other. It was all in sight and out of sight within a few seconds and we barely believed what we saw until a kid, ten years old or so, turned to what looked like his grandparents and asked what they were doing, why one otter was chewing on the other, were they fighting, a zillion questions which the grandparents were not at all prepared to answer. But we knew then that we had seen what we thought we had seen.

  • Ken Shultz||

    They have voracious appetites in all sorts of ways.

    The last time I was there, they only seemed to open the otter exhibit at feeding time.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Sea otters don't have blowholes.

    But they do hold hands with their mates while they sleep so they aren't separated by the tide.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ commons/7/79/Sea_otters_holding_hands.jpg

    They're adorable. The kid of thing kids would like to see. They're like sea koalas.

    Except when they aren't busy finding something to eat, they're either asleep or humping like bonobos.

  • Echospinner||

    Years ago we were at the zoo and there was a crowd around the bear pen. My daughter was up on my shoulders. We got closer and the bear was right in the middle giving himself a BJ. People were just watching kinda stunned.

    My daughter asks "what is the bear doing daddy?"

    "He is, ummm, cleaning himself sweetheart"

    "Why?" She asks.

    The guy next to us pipes in "because he can"

  • Teddy Pump||

    I hear they're hung like Sea Horses!

  • Ken Shultz||

    We might restore as much CO2 sucking biomass along the coast of California as there is in the forests around the Sierras, but we couldn't protect the sea otter along the California coast from pluralistic democracy--despite the fact that the California sea otter is on the endangered species list and the coast of California is the most heavily environmentally regulated space on earth.

    People imagine that government conservation agencies are there to protect wildlife from industry, but we live in a pluralistic democracy, and the government isn't only there to protect wildlife from industry. It's also there to protect industry from wildlife. See the BLM selling non-grazing fees paying Mustangs off to be butchered in Mexico so they don't compete with cattle for grazing land. See the National Park Service culling wild Bison to keep them off of cattle grazing public land to protect domestic cattle from brucellosis, which makes the first calf produced stillborn in domestic cattle.

    Real conservation efforts aren't about compromise and sharing. They're about not having to compromise--and nothing accomplishes that like private property.

  • Bubba Jones||

    This begs the question. Why are otters more important than sushi?

    If anyone ever tells my wife I asked this question, I will deny it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's more important to me for various reasons--among them, all the tasty fish that would flourish in that ecosystem if there were no uni.

    I'd also like the pure environmental aspects.

    Interacting with dolphins while surfing is something I've head the pleasure of doing several times in my life, and I'd expect the proliferation of sea life with the reestablishment of the kelp forests is accompanied by more such opportunities, then I appreciate the otters more than the sea urchins for that reason alone.

    I appreciate that some people might like uni better than other forms of sushi or uni better than whatever we'd have without it, to those people, I'd suggest that using the rouse of conservation and the coercive power of government to achieve that goal is immoral.

    Further, you suffer from the coercive power of government in other ways that are unrelated to uni, and in order to get out of that predicament, you may need to let go of this so other people let go of other things. After all, what's the first rule if you want to get out of a fustercluck? Rule #1: You gotta let go of whatever you're holding onto.

    Meanwhile, my most important message isn't to people who want the government to fight conversation because they like sushi. My most important message is to those who imagine that the government is the solution to our conservation problems. It isn't. The government may be a bigger source of our problems than it is a solution.

  • SIV||

    Mustangs aren't "wildlife", they're invasive rats with hoofs.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    So are all ungulates. Or are you under the impression that arriving here via ship 500 years ago is different from arriving via land bridge 5 million years ago? If so, please explain.

  • soldiermedic76||

    It is when you are stating one animal (feral horses) should have a greater priority to land use then domesticated cattle. Especially when they arrived at the same time.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I wasn't saying that. I was pointing out that "invasive" is a meaningless pejorative, since all species everywhere are invasive, and thus mustangs are as much wildlife as deer or elk.

    Which is in no way a commentary on wildlife vs. livestock.

  • soldiermedic76||

    I just get tired of the whole wild horse issue. The US is one of the few countries that doesn't treat horses as livestock, and there is no good reason why. Except feels. Sorry if I misinterpreted.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Well, by that logic, there's no reason not to treat white-tails and elk as "livestock". The point was that mustangs have been feral long enough now to have become "wildlife", regardless of what one's attitudes towards "wildlife" are.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Why are mustangs more important than cattle. Mustangs are no more natural then cattle. And as for the bison, those ranches have had a historic use right to that land since before the federal government took it away. That is why they graze their. Historically the always grazed their, but then the government decided to designate it public land. In compromise they granted the ranchers a grazing right (but then charge them for it). Study the history sometime of the BLM and USFS.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Um, whether you like the ownership/management situation today, the history of lands west of the Mississippi is pretty clear. Except for Spanish land grants in the southwest, and some minor holdings along the west coast, the rest was all Federal territory before anyone even dreamed of states, towns, or private settlements. And just because somebody grazed cattle on "public" land that does not convey ownership.

  • soldiermedic76||

    It conveyed a prior use. At least according to the USSC. One which the federal government must recognize. Again, at least according to multiple USSC decisions, not to mention lower courts.
    And finally, are ranchers and loggers also not part of the public? So if it is public land, why should their usage be banned?

  • soldiermedic76||

    And even though it was federal land, the usage was allowed. People adjusted their lifestyles to that use. Then suddenly it was banned by the creation of government agencies that had not previously existed. However, the USSC recognized the prior use and ruled the federal government had to allow grazing and logging (and mining).

  • soldiermedic76||

    And, it should also be noted that the laws creating the USFS and BLM also recognized the prior use.

  • LynchPin1477||

    There is a lot here, but let me pick on one point - that livestock populations offset the loss of other species. I don't think conservationists that are worried about species loss are concerned with the total amount of animal biomaterial in the world. They are concerned with the aesthetic and moral implications (which are, of course, subjective and not universally shared) that come with the loss of wild species. I don't think one really engages with their concerns if you draw an equivalence between broiler chickens and however many dozens of other bird species are at risk of extinction, even if the total number of feathers is the same.

  • Bubba Jones||

    There is also an inherent risk in monoculture.

  • Agnes||

    Exactly - same thing goes for agriculture.

  • Karen24||

    This is exactly the point. Cattle do not make up for rhinos, tigers, and elephants.

    As for introduced species, anyone who suggests that fire ants are anything but a vile curse is an idiot.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "Objection."

    -National Association for the Advancement of Cattle Persons

  • soldiermedic76||

    Really? Depends on how you look at it. From a perspective of their impact and benefit for our species, cattle are much Superior to rhinoceros and hippopotamus.

  • Ken Shultz||

    They're trying to close Yosemite off to cars because the influx of tourists is destroying the place, but they can't because Yosemite is public property--and the National Park Service isn't just run for the interests of natural resources. It's also run for the benefit of tourists and the tourism industry.

    When Trump takes national park designations away from land--and leaves it in private hands--he's probably doing more to save that land for future generations than giving it to the National Park Service ever could. From a conservation standpoint, being designated a national park is like a death sentence. Make it a national park, and suddenly millions of people from all over the world will flock there who never would have otherwise--and bring all sorts of infrastructure that was never there before.

    If they really want to save Yosemite for future generations, they might consider selling it to Disney.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yup-yup-yo, Ken... The google-able buzz phase here is the "tragedy of the commons".

    With respect to your screaming your head off, in the wilderness, and probably having little if any actual effect, about the sea otters (as a prime example of a bigger problem), I have been doing the same thing with the "lung flute" as an example of Government Almighty turning us all into little babies. (The lung flute is a cheap plastic flute, but you need a doctor's prescription to buy one, only in the USA, of all nations on the planet).

    I have written endless letters to the editors, to Congress-critters, to the FDA, and put up my web site www.churchofSQRLS.com , to scream my head off about this and associated FDA troubles... And got precisely nowhere, as far as I can tell. I have not put one tiny dent into the FDA, or tagged them with a single drop of tar, or a single feather, although they richly deserve to be tarred and feathered, head to toe!

    WHAT are we gonna do?!?!

  • Ken Shultz||

    Jesus of Nazareth started out with only 12 guys--and one of them was a traitor.

    By word of mouth--no internet--his philosophy became so prominent, it took over the Roman Empire. In the end, you couldn't be the emperor if you weren't a Christian. 2,000 years later, as recently as Barack Obama, the charge that the president wasn't really a Christian was serious enough that he thought it was important to dispel it.

    I never thought I'd live to see the fall of the Soviet Union, recreational marijuana use, or gay marriage, but here we are. For all those years before something happened, It didn't seem like the things people said to each other were having any impact--until suddenly everything changed. We fear our efforts don't matter, and yet there is nothing that scares dictators more than what people are saying to each other about them--for good reason. Ghadaffi and Ceausescu both thought they had everything under control--two weeks before their heads were put on a pike.

    What you're trying to accomplish isn't harder than that.

    Don't give up. You have more influence than you realize. Fight the good fight.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BT1ircqQklo

  • SQRLSY One||

    Hi Ken,

    Thanks for your encouraging words, I needed them! Love the song… I had not heard that one in a long time, nor ever listened to the words very carefully. Awesome song!

    Here is one of my favorites, for "uplifting" rock and roll… badlands, bruce springsteen… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7T_6Ua6fd5s

    Thanks! -SQRLSY

  • Bubba Jones||

    You can buy them on amazon.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yes, there's versions on Amazon now, different manufacturer, you're correct! NO prescriptions needed for them!

    http://www.lungflute.com/BUY-LungFlute.aspx "Medical Acoustics" for the original still says...

    Patients in the USA or any US Territory require a prescription to buy the Lung Flute
    Once you have a prescription you can buy the Lung Flute directly online
    Lung Flute orders for other countries do not require a prescription

    Why the hodge-podge of this one needs prescriptions, this one doesn't, I have no idea...

    It is still UTTERLY absurd that any FDA bureaucrat EVER deemed such a silly thing as being "needs a prescription"! Our soldiers fight and die for our supposed freedoms, while the FDA takes freedoms away from us every day! Would the soldiers PLEASE come home, and defend us from the FDA?!?!!?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I once was curious how much national parks and city parks cost to run and what that would imply for private ownership, or at the very least privatized operation. Here is the bottom line, from several years ago.

    Yosemite is 760K acres and in 2012 had 3.9M visitors, 689 full time equivalent employees, and a budget of $29M, or $8 and 21 employee minutes per visitor and $42K per employee.

    Yellowstone is 2.2M acres and in 2012 had 3.4M visitors, 557 full time equivalent employees, and a budget of $35M, or $10 and 19 employee minutes per visitor and $63K per employee.

    Central Park in New York City has a $37.5M budget and 35M visitors. Golden Gate Park in San Francisco has a $10M budget and 13M visitors. Both are a buck each visit.

    I don't remember, now, why both the price and the employee minutes per visit, other than it not being clear from the budget pages I found where employee costs were counted (part of each park's budget, or in some overall system budget?) and how ticket prices were accounted for. However, the conclusion is pretty damned clear, that they are cheap to run and would be excellent targets for privatization.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I also remember discussing this with someone who objected that private owners would allow luxury condos and private housing. That may be true; but those two parks are sufficiently big and far enough in the wilderness that any development there would only be vacation houses for the rich, seldom occupied, and the last thing they want is to spend millions on a ruined view. No, any such development would be hidden away and barely visible. Trails would be far better maintained. There would probably be sno-cat routes, and probably a few helicopters shuttling back and forth, but there aren't enough rich people to make it possible to turn the entire parks into Aspen or Jackson Hole. The only people to lose out would be the few rich kids who spend a fortune on backpacking gear so they can pretend to be environmentalists who care about nothing but having a playground for rich kids with expensive backpacking gear. But of course they don't see it that way; they don't see the millions of kids who can't afford backpacking trips for a week or month, but could afford a day trip or overnighter, if the rich kids would just get off their high horse and allow it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    And maximizing the appeal of going there and minimizing the impact of development would be something a property owner would care about.

    Disneyland Anaheim had so much development around it that when they opened Disneyland Orlando, they bought up all the land around it. The last thing Disney wants to do is destroy the reason tourists are flocking there.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Its not expensive to backpack. For the price of a hotel for a few nights you could easily buy all of your gear. You can buy a crappy backpack with a poncho tent thing that you string up on trees and a sleeping bag and hiking shoes for probably around $400-$500. If you bring a few people the price goes down per person and if you are out for like five days that is a pretty cheap vacation. Even more so if you use it once or twice. Or you could rent it if you want it cheaper.

    Plus I do not know why you guys think everything would sort itself out if it was privatized. Jackson Hole and Aspen are exactly what these places would turn into. I am not saying that is bad, but I see no reason to believe some private entity would treat it the same way the government would (but better!) simply because the private entity has a profit motive and would maximize their profit however the could.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    My point is not that you *can* backpack cheaply. You can do anything cheaply. But people still by $1000 backpacks and $200 water filters, just as they buy $5000 bicycles, and these are the snobs who wish to keep Yosemite and Yellowstone 'pristine' by keeping out the great unwashed masses. They explicitly want to keep people out, because people ruinthings. Except for them, of course, because only they have the environmental sensitivity necessary to keep those places clean and tidy and uncrowded.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Your second questions deserves a longer answer than will fit in 1500 characters, but begins with the observation that property owners want to maximize their value and profits. Proggies hate businesses and profits and property, and so do not understand this basic maxim. Any business which owned Yosemite or Yellowstone would be fools to sell property to developers and disappear; they can get far more from profits than a one-shot sale. As a somewhat IT example, I saw a study which said teh sale of ivory from a dead elephant was worth $21K, but the profits realized from a live elephant were $23K a year. It's the poachers stealing that ivory who do the damage, so if elephants are part of a property system the owners will do their damnedest t keep those elephants alive rather than sell them, and then sell the ivory when they die of natural causes.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    There was an article in Reason a few years ago about privatization of state parks in Arizona or New Mexico, turning over operation to a private company. They increased the number of visitors, increased visitor satisfaction, lowered entrance fees, and turned a profit. Their explanation was simple: state budgets are set for politically, and park managers' incentive is fewer visitors because visitors are expensive and all entrance fees go to the general fund. Whereas a business wants to reduce operating expenses and increase visitors.

    The elite proggies protest that bringing in more visitors ruins the experience (especially for them). Parks should be pristine. People cause litter, are noisy, trample everything, take souvenirs, are icky and should get out of the way unless they have had the proper upbringing to know how to behave.

    Hotels in national parks? Awful! Parking lots? Awful! Bathrooms and trails? Awful!

    I take the opposite view. If the elites want their own private view, they can finance it themselves. I have zero problem with private Yosemite and Yellowstone operators preserving sections as pristine as possible, even checking people in and out with rigorous inventory checks and stiff penalties for discrepancies indicative of litter. I applaud such practices, as it leaves the "ordinary" views cheap and accessible, and allows a few rich people to build isolated hidden vacation cabins and subsidize those cheap views for the masses.

  • Ken Shultz||

    JoeBlow,

    The point is that if tourism is destroying Yosemite and, because of the pluralistic nature of democracy, the government can't shut down tourism to save Yosemite, then privatization is the solution to that problem.

    The point is that making a new national park in southern Utah because you want to conserve it is asinine, when there are relatively few people and little infrastructure now--and making it into a national park will bring in millions of people and draw development.

    Conservation is not about balancing the desires of various interest groups by way of democracy.

    Conservation is best served by private property in which the owners can decide who can and can't use that property (that's what ownership means).

    Hell, you might even sell the property to a non-profit if you like, but there isn't anything about nationalizing land in a pluralistic democracy that's about to conserve natural resources from an overabundance of voting tourists.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Plus I do not know why you guys think everything would sort itself out if it was privatized."

    I'm not suggesting that the tough choices that need to be made wouldn't need to be made if only that land were private.

    They cull wild Bison in Yellowstone every year. These aren't the ones that have been crossbred with domestic cattle to make them somewhat docile. This is the last of the wild Bison herd that once roamed the plains.

    Some of the cull is to keep Bison from wandering onto public land where they can spread brucellosis to grazing cattle. Some of it may be to keep the herd from getting too big and starving to death given the drought conditions within the park.

    Even if the government weren't providing cattle ranchers with cheap grazing under the pretense of conserving wildlife, there would still be tough decisions to be made about culling the herd so that an undue number of bison don't starve to death. The question I'd like environmentalists and conservationists who care about such things to ask themselves is whether they'd like those tough decisions made by conservationists and property owners or whether those decisions should be made by bureaucrats and politicians who answer to both conservationists and ranchers?

    Yes, the tough choices of conservation will still be there even if the land is privatized, the question is whether you think the government is better at making those decisions than private owners.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Last Point:

    Even the Nature Conservancy had to make tough choices about selling some of their less sensitive land in order to finance the purchase of other land that's more sensitive and more in danger.

    They buy that land because ownership gives them control.

    If the Nature Conservancy owned Yosemite, they wouldn't run it like the National Park Service does.

    Their primary concern would be conservation.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Ok I see what you are saying now, I missed the argument a little earlier. *thumbs up*

    Even if it makes logical sense I doubt people would buy off on it, seems too different from what we have now and different is uncertain and scary.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "I also remember discussing this with someone who objected that private owners would allow luxury condos and private housing. "

    Warren Meyer (Coyote Blog) owns a business managing public parks. From his website...

    Does the Private Company Take Ownership of the Park?
    No. The parks and all the facilities remain the property of the public entity. The park operator merely signs an operating lease, with strict rules, wherein it operates the park, keeps the fees paid by the public, and pays the state a "rent" based on a percentage of the fee collections. Even when private companies invest in facilities, like this store building and cabins, these facilities become the property of the public at the end of the contract.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    Won't Private Companies Just Build a McDonald's in Front of Old Faithful?
    This is one of my favorite questions, because it is absolutely predictable that it will get asked whenever I discuss park privatization with a group of government officials. Typically I give 3 answers:

    It simply is not possible. Under the terms of a typical operating contract, a concessionaire cannot change fees, facilities, operating hours, or even cut down a tree without written approval form the parks organization.
    It is generally not in the company's best interest. Generally, the parks we take over are popular for their natural or historical attractions. Diluting these attractions in any way is just business suicide for operators.
    It doesn't happen. We operate over 100 parks in this manner across the country and you would not be able to tell the difference between the facilities we manage and any other public park.
    We aren't trying to take ownership of the land. We aren't trying to pave the wilderness. We aren't trying to build condos in front of Old Faithful. We are in fact willing to accept whatever recreation mission or preservation mission the public owner of the park sets and manage the park to that mission. If the site is to remain primitive, we keep it primitive. If the public agency wants new facilities, we help bring capital investment in new facilities (all approved in advance by the public agency).

  • I'm Not Sure||

    For more information about park privatization, go to his blog: http://www.coyoteblog.com/ and tale a look at the PARK PRIVATIZATION link.

  • JoeBlow123||

    Ok this makes a bunch of sense. Thanks for sharing!

  • mtrueman||

    "Diluting these attractions in any way is just business suicide for operators."

    Maybe the owners didn't buy the place for its business potential. Maybe they bought it so they can shut the gates and enjoy the place in private. What's money for if not to buy privacy?

  • Slocum||

    "When Trump takes national park designations away from land--and leaves it in private hands--he's probably doing more to save that land for future generations than giving it to the National Park Service ever could."

    But he's not doing that. It's all government land regardless. He's just returning control to the BLM or Forest Service rather than the NPS. But the BLM and Forest Service do allow mining and logging activities that the NPS doesn't.

  • soldiermedic76||

    And managed grazing and logging is actually beneficial.

  • Jerryskids||

    Why not "rewild" parts of North America that once contained mammoths, camels, and saber-tooth tigers with ecologically similar species from other parts of the world? Let's loose elephants, lions, cheetahs, camels, and llamas to roam unpopulated regions of the West.

    I've seen the La Brea tarpits, and I for one would be happy to donate to any fund willing to repopulate LA with animals like elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers and cheetahs. Let's see how dedicated these folks are to preserving wildlife and wildlife habitat then.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    There are no rhinos or tigers in the La Brea tar pits. "Saber-tooth tiger" is a misnomer.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Betting the opposite of whatever Paul Ehrlich writes is going to give you your best odds.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Any competent tenure system would have long since fired his ass for incompetence. Anyone in private business with such a dismal track record would be in prison with Madoff.

  • Sevo||

    Related:

    "Cutbacks, policy shifts pummel morale at EPA office in SF"
    [...]
    "Lynda Deschambault knew her career at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had taken a hard turn in July when, she said, her supervisor told her during a performance review to "be as invisible as possible." The next month, she took early retirement."
    https://www.sfchronicle.com/
    news/article/At-SF-s-leaderless-EPA-
    office-cutbacks-and-12705164.php

    First, I'm all for emptying EPA offices; the E they've been P'ing often seems to be a mud puddle in someone's back 40 where they can now no longer graze the herd.
    But according to the article, the woman was passionate about her work. So passionate see took an early retirement the first time her budget was cut.
    I'm tired of spending my money protecting things like the CA Condor; the bird is obsolete and spending millions to keep it around for the next hundred years is the height of hubris on the part of those who do so.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Not to mention they lie about the condor so much it makes n observer wonder what else they lie about. The lead in dead condors is attributed to lead ammo in gut piles scavenged by the condors, and so most (all now?) of California is a lead-free hunting zone, for all ammo, not just bird hunting. Yet they utterly ignore lead painted shacks where condors have been seen nesting. I have no idea what the truth is, but if the so-called scientists (read: glorified technicians) want to cover it up, then the truth must be unpalatable.

  • soldiermedic76||

    The largest problem with the EPA is that it tends to attract employees of a certain mindset. This has created an echo chamber filled with environmentalist sychophants. They rarely actually base their decisions on science and tend to be autocratical. This is because they are basically cultist who worhsip a mythical Mother Gaia.

  • Otis B. Driftwood||

    OT: Twitter is blowing loads left and right since Jarheads's Anthony Swofford wrote a piece somehow tying his Desert Storm tour in the Marines to gun bans.

    Could they possibly find a less relevant Marine?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Anthony Gale?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Pvt. Trevor Wierzbowski?

  • Thrackmoor||

    WIERZBOWSKI!!!

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    He's dead, Jim.

  • Stormy Dragon||

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Ahem.

    A. The Triassic period was home to several large predators, such as Postosuchus and Herrerasaurus,

    B. The Devonian period also featured one Mr. Jaekelopterus rhenaniae, esq.,

    and

    C. Tyrannosaurus Rex was not an obligate scavenger.

  • Longtobefree||

    There are two issues with government activity related to the environment.
    First, it is anti-science to deny Darwin's theory and try to prevent extinction of any species. Extinction is a natural part of his theory, and anyone who advocates interference is a science-denier.
    Second, it is the Jewish/Christian scriptures that give man control over nature*, and any governmental agency partaking in that religious activity is violating Jefferson's separation of church and state.
    * (Genesis 9:2-3)

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Dominionism is a lie.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Tell that to Captain Sisko.

  • AlmightyJB||

    OT: Just talked to my shooting buddy. He was at one of our larger gun stores yesterday. Said it was unbelievably packed. Liberals seem to be the top gun and ammo salespeople in the world.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I think it's crazy to live in a world where a gun is cheaper than a book.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Books are more dangerous.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    If only we did...

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    They're just getting in before all the remaining airlines cut ties.

  • Jerryskids||

    BTW, any time you want to talk about the government management of national parks, just go see Warren Meyer over at coyoteblog.com, he's probably already said it all. And a lot more on a lot of other subjects, one of his latest posts is a callback to a post he wrote a couple of years ago on the diesel emissions cheating scandal wherein he predicted that all or most all of the diesel manufacturers were going to be caught up in the same scandal simply because diesel technology was bumping up against the limits of physics and it simply is not possible to produce a diesel vehicle that provides affordability, fuel efficiency, performance and low emissions in one package.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Actually they've bumped up against the EPA. Pound for pound, a diesel engine pulling a load at 80,000 lbs. getting 5.5 MPGs is more efficient than a Prius delivering a 120 lb. woman to her job at the local hospital.

  • soldiermedic76||

    This is why the buy local movement is nothing more than a fraud. As is organic anything.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    It's like when the nurses give you an extra jello for being a good boy, right Mikey?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Exactly.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    You did figure out who murdered Seth Rich, so I have no doubt you will untangle my intelligence web.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    ^ intimidating

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    (Mikey's revelation of professional software engineering skillz, that is. I, for one, would be very scared if I, for one, were Citizen X Crusty.)

  • Ecoli||

    Santa Cruz Island off the coast of California was privately owned and ranched until recently. Now it is a national park.

    The ranchers raised sheep, pigs and cattle. They also planted stuff, fennel being one.

    Pigs escaped and went feral. Sheep escaped and went feral. Fennel escaped and went feral.

    The island was covered with these feral species. The baby pigs attracted Golden eagles who had a taste for pork. The pigs had a taste for fennel. Island ranchers brought over hunters from SoCal to kill sheep and pigs.

    The nature conservancy (who inherited the island from the deceased owner, XXX Stanton) hired professional hunters from New Zealand to slaughter the sheep and pigs because they were "invasive". Over the course of several years the pro hunters killed all the feral sheep and pigs (probably a hundred thousand animals combined). The fennel population exploded with no pigs left to eat it. The park service trapped the Golden eagles because they weren't "native"; this done to allow bald eagles (mortal enemies of golden eagles) to return.

    Now SCI is a fennel covered national park. That is man's guiding hand making sure nature is natural.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    That is some fucked up shit.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Hey Mikey, what became of that explosive news that you were pumping the last couple of weeks? You know, the news that would blow the lid off the Obama/Clinton corruption?

    I don't read wingnut.com or Bratfart so I missed it.

  • Crusty Juggler||

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    ^ Warning: Lena Dunham related.

    (thankfully I saw the name before it loaded.)

  • Eidde||

    Crusty's name, or Lena's?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    The latter. But yes, it ought to have been the former.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    "Meanwhile, as people grow wealthier and agriculture more productive, fewer folks have to hunt for food or cut down forests for farms, so more space opens up for the return of wild nature"
    The house I live in was built on what had been a corn field. When my wife and bought the place 25 years ago it was clear cut. In the first few years we planted over 40 trees, seedlings and root balls. Some of those trees are now over 50 feet tall. Some gave us, and the wildlife, tasty fruit and died of old age. The rest of the area has also returned to something closer to the environment that existed prior to it's agricultural use. We've watched as birds that had not been seen around here in decades returned. Specifically turkey vultures and eagles. We also have a large population of frogs, bees, hummingbirds, dragon flies and just about anything else that can survive the climate. In our little corner of the world, the enemies of this resurgence are the anti-sprawlers, urban dwellers who conflate agriculture with nature and try to prevent developers from creating rural subdivisions. In their view, humans must live in tiny homes within the jurisdiction of metropolitan governments that can dictate permitted uses of their property. Anything else is an assault on mother earth. A cornfield is a wonderful thing but it's a shitty habitat for anything except corn.

  • mtrueman||

    "We've watched as birds that had not been seen around here in decades returned. Specifically turkey vultures and eagles. We also have a large population of frogs, bees, hummingbirds, dragon flies and just about anything else that can survive the climate."

    The animals are returning thanks to the trees you had the foresight to plant. Not because of the driveways lawns and houses of your precious sprawl.

  • Sevo||

    "The animals are returning thanks to the trees you had the foresight to plant. Not because of the driveways lawns and houses of your precious sprawl."

    Oh, gee! What...........
    and idiotic comment.

  • mtrueman||

    Animals like trees. Go figure.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Only to a degree. Large ungulates such as elk and deer prefer savannahs.

  • mtrueman||

    Fish prefer water.

  • soldiermedic76||

    When you make a blanket statement, and self evidently wrong, such animals like trees, be prepared to be corrected.
    And some birds obviously returned because of the trees. However, I am confident in stating other birds were hurt by the loss of the corn fields the fed on. Trees also lead to greater nest predation of ground nesting birds such as sage grouse and prarie chickens. Depending on where his prior corn field resided, the planting of trees could actually have created more problems for local wildlife then it solved.

  • mtrueman||

    Some animals prefer some parts of some trees, but only some of the time. That mealy-mouthed for you?

  • soldiermedic76||

    Cornfields actually produce great hanitat for many ground nesting birds, rodents, small carnivores such as fox, badgers and coyotes. They also are great food sources for large ungulates such as deer, elk, antelope etc. Not to mention the insect, fungal and bacteria populations supported by corn and other agricultural uses.

  • soldiermedic76||

    And I would also ask what part of the country you live in? Because for most of the corn belt, trees are not natural habitat, except along waterways.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Omnivores such as raccoons, insectivores such as moles and shrews. Etc

  • soldiermedic76||

    O should have added also benefit from corn fields.

  • dantheserene||

    This challenge to the accepted narrative is unacceptable because it does not lead to greater power and influence for watermelons.

  • mtrueman||

    ""as if there is an 'ought to be' state of the world, "

    As if there were an ought to be state is the correct way, grammatically speaking. There is a golden rule at least as far as life forms are concerned: anything we do to impoverish bio-diversity will get us in the end. From the perspective of rocks and zombies and other non life forms, an impoverished bio-diversity doesn't really matter.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Please explain the mechanism by which we will be "gotten" in this "end".

  • mtrueman||

    How does any species go extinct? Lack of ability to adapt to new circumstances has always been a big one. There are more options open to us in an environment rich in bio-diversity, fewer in impoverished bio-diversity.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Except that man adapts far better then any other animal. We inhabit every ecosystem on Earth.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Well just about.

  • mtrueman||

    we thrive in areas of rich bio-diversity. Because man is a life form, unlike rocks and zombies which can do well in areas of impoverished bio-diversity.

  • soldiermedic76||

    We thrive in areas of even low bio-diversity.

  • soldiermedic76||

    We adapt, and generally speaking increase the bio-diversity of any area we move into. We also tend to alter the landscape in such a way, that not only does it make it easier for us to survive, but also for a large number of animals and plants to survive. Our moving into artic and sub artic and dessert environments have made those habitats, generally speaking, more habitable for a number of other species.

  • mtrueman||

    "We adapt, and generally speaking increase the bio-diversity of any area we move into. "

    It depends on what we do after moving in. The sahara became a desert after a few thousand years of cultivation. That is what monoculture and erosion does.

  • mtrueman||

    "We thrive in areas of even low bio-diversity."

    We pass through areas of low bio-diversity. Think of the camel trains passing through the sahara. If we settle down and thrive, it's likely to be an area rich in bio-diversity like a valley or river mouth, where there is plenty of plant and animal life.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Yes, because that's why we settle in areas with easily available freshwater and temperate climate... because of the "vibrant diversity" of the crawdads and reeds.

  • mtrueman||

    "Yes, because that's why we settle in areas with easily available freshwater and temperate climate.."

    It's not just we humans who settle in these areas, it's all manner of plant and animal species. That's what makes bio-diversity so diverse.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    It's almost as if there's something about such areas that attracts both humanity and bio-diversity, rather than bio-diversity attracting humanity.

  • mtrueman||

    "attracts both humanity and bio-diversity, "

    You can't 'attract' bio-diversity. It's something that arises from a variety of optimal conditions being fulfilled, like temperature, water, space and so on. If everything goes right, a wide variety of plant and animal species gets a foothold and establishes itself. It's life, it's nature! It's madness to oppose it.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Given that bio-diversity is comprised of organisms, and organisms move toward and congregate in "optimal conditions", it can, in fact, be attracted.

  • mtrueman||

    "it can, in fact, be attracted"

    I agree organisms can be attracted. They are living things. Bio-diversity is an abstract concept, which is incapable of being attracted, like any other inanimate thing. We humans are attracted to valleys and river outlets, and so are other animal and plant species. Abstract concepts don't have it in them to feel the same pull, or any pull, because they don't have feelings of attraction or repulsion etc.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    "A comparatively genetically diverse array of organisms living in a given area" is not an "abstract concept". It is a physical, measurable quantity of mass-energy of a given pattern in a given area. That is not abstract.

  • mtrueman||

    Bio-diversity doesn't have a will, unlike living things. It doesn't suffer from desires and not susceptible to attractions, however attractive. This is just quibbling over words, though. If you have anything else to say about how our impovershing bio-diversity in our environment is not a good thing, I'd read with pleasure.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    It is comprised of organisms which are susceptible to attraction, ergo it is susceptible to attraction.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Please explain the mechanism by which absence of Panthera Tigris, Rhinoceros Sondaicus or Gymnogyps Californianus materially harms humanity in any way other than aesthetic or altruistic.

  • mtrueman||

    "Please explain the mechanism by which absence of Panthera Tigris, Rhinoceros Sondaicus or Gymnogyps Californianus materially harms humanity in any way other than aesthetic or altruistic."

    What's wrong with aesthetic or altruistic reasons? Have the comment police decided these are somehow illegitimate?

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Please explain how aesthetic or altruistic harms, the legitimacy of concerns about them notwithstanding, can in any way be considered tantamount to a "getting" of "us" in the "end".

  • mtrueman||

    Humans are living things. They thrive in an ecology rich in bio-diversity, just like other living things. Should we decide to exterminate other species to the point of their extinction, it will tend to impoverish bio-diversity. This will run the risk of harming ourselves and the other species we share our environment with. Bio-diversity, you see, gives us choices and options. Your planned exterminations remove choices and options. Once the species is extinct, it is extinct forever.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Please explain the mechanism by which absence of Panthera Tigris, Rhinoceros Sondaicus or Gymnogyps Californianus "runs the risk of harming ourselves and the other species we share our environment with" to a degree that exceeds the benefit reaped by requisitioning their territory and ecological niches for agriculture and/or real estate.

    Once the species is extinct, it is extinct forever

    For now.

  • mtrueman||

    ""runs the risk of harming ourselves and the other species we share our environment with" to a degree that exceeds the benefit reaped by requisitioning their territory and ecological niches for agriculture and/or real estate."

    Ah, that old chestnut, the need for a cost benefit analysis. It's a fine old stalling tactic in the civil service, but there's no need for that here, especially when it's between two libertarians. Say what you want to say and enough stalling.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Say what you want to say and enough stalling

    I have said what I wanted to say: namely, a series of questions which, as always, you are incapable of producing a rational answer to.

    Ah, that old chestnut, the need for a cost benefit analysis. It's a fine old stalling tactic in the civil service

    That you apparently do not realize that cost/benefit analysis is an inherent part of all rational decision-making explains much about you.

  • mtrueman||

    "That you apparently do not realize that cost/benefit analysis is an inherent part of all rational decision-making explains much about you."

    Only if it's feasible to do. Demanding figures for, say, the benefits of a bio-diverse ecosystem is a stalling tactic, as I've already explained. If you have anything you want to say, go ahead say it.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    So we should all agree on your approach to bio-diversity policy... without doing a cost/benefit analysis first.

  • mtrueman||

    You want to a cost benefit analysis, go ahead. Nobodies stopping you. If the government won't fund you, try the oil industry.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    ^ thinks all cost/benefit analyses require monetary funding.

  • mtrueman||

    Do one for free if you want.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I did. The point is that you can't offer one in contravention, and thus are left to delegitimize the very concept of analyzing potential outcomes before choosing a course of action (generally abbreviated as "rational decision-making").

  • mtrueman||

    It's not these potential outcomes I object to. It's putting a dollar value on something that's entirely subjective. It won't lead to rational decisions, but maybe self-serving ones.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Every rational decision is based on weighing values. If you declare the values in a given decision to be subjective, you're left with deciding whose subjective values should be given primacy- and Libertarianism 101 states that that primacy should be given to private property owners. Even if the actions of those private property owners reduces bio-diversity. Which conveniently just so happens to be what my consequentialist cost/benefit analysis leads me to support- as always.

  • Entelechy||

    The problem Ron is that pine trees can't walk north as fast as musk oxen, and when they perish where they stand , they take all the pine nut eating species with them.

    When we were born the northernmost remant of mid atlantic foreshore forest, overlooking New York Harbor on Sandy Hook, still consisted of holly and pine.

    About 1 degree F later the holly survives, but prickly pear cactus has supplanted the pines --
    have you started transplanting your favorite Virginia trees & flora north of the Mason Dixon Line ?

  • Sevo||

    "About 1 degree F later the holly survives, but prickly pear cactus has supplanted the pines --
    have you started transplanting your favorite Virginia trees & flora north of the Mason Dixon Line ?"

    Poor, poor Entelechy!
    (S)he knows exactly how the species should be distributed, along comes change and OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!
    Fuck off, slaver.

  • mtrueman||

    " along comes change and OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!"

    It's what follows change that's important. We adapt or die, it's the cruelest law of the universe.

  • Yoshooa||

    Translation:
    "Everything you personally choose to do is JUST FINE! You don't need to change a thing or take stock of your impacts on the world! I'm writing this for a libertarian audience,right?"

    Yeah, uh huh. 7 billion and counting tool using, resource hungry apex predators with incredibly wasteful, polluting lifestyles is totally sustainable. This piece flatters the preconceptions of the site's readers. Don't fall for this line of BS.

    I suspect the book is a bit more nuanced.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Humanity: Like Locusts, Only More Destructive Because They Know How To Use Tools To Irrigate And Fertilize Crops

    /you

  • Yoshooa||

    I'm not sure from the tone of your comment what point you're trying to make, exactly. But yes, I sort of believe this is the case. By our very nature we can't help but exert a large pressure on the ecosystems that support us. Tool using, irrigation, fertilization - these things aren't in and of themselves the problem. Combining these behaviors with 7 *billion* of us (and growing) is what has us looking off the edge of the cliff from an environmental perspective.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    So, you acknowledge that humanity has brought capabilities to the global ecosystem that increase crop output relative to available arable land and contributory resources compared to the allegedly edenic ecosystems that existed prior to the Anthropocene, and have increased in population while withdrawing from available arable land as a result, yet don't see the problem with dismissing humanity as "resource hungry apex predators".

    We're resource hungry apex predators. We're also resource hungry herbivores, frugivores and piscivores. And we're also an unparalleled and unprecedented quantum leap in the efficiency, adaptability, and, yes, sustainability of plant life, as well as the advent of new energy sources, from oil to solar panels to wind farms, that could never have existed to be exploited without us. Which is why the first two of those three things that we are, are sustainable.

  • mtrueman||

    "an unparalleled and unprecedented quantum leap in the efficiency, "

    This is simply untrue. Compared to any other apex predator, humans leave mountains of waste in their wake. Take the noble bald eagle, for example. Around it's nest, high in the mountains, we might find a few bone and scraps that the rodents ever the scavengers, haven't carted off. Humans produce waste in bewildering profusion. Even our piss is laden with traces from everything the pharmaceutical industry puts on the market. We are probably, no, certainly the least efficient apex predator to walk, crawl, swim, or any other way of moving about.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Efficiency of plant life, is what I said. As in: efficiency of the means of production, not consumption.

  • mtrueman||

    "As in: efficiency of the means of production,"

    We also produce mountains of waste in the production of food crops, that includes some 30% of the food itself rotting away, costing all of us money.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    AKA "inefficiency in the means of consumption". AKA "not inefficiency in the means of production", which conveniently just so happens to be what my original post was about.

  • mtrueman||

    I'm saying these actions like industrial monoculture are fraught with waste, whether production or consumption. Other apex predators live their lives almost entirely without waste. That's efficiency.

    You're wrong about the wind farms exploiting resources that otherwise go ignored. These winds have always attracted birds, who can use the differences in temperature that give rise to winds to make their flying easier, saving energy for hunting and mating and other things birds do. Don't underestimate birds. They can be amazingly clever, with a good memory, a linguistic ability, and curiosity about new things. I am a bird lover and welcome the chance to teach you more about our feathered friends.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Other apex predators live their lives almost entirely without waste. That's efficiency

    Well, that explains a lot: you clearly didn't grow up cleaning up elephantine Great Dane droppings, as I did, so you came to like birds instead.

    I'm still betting that wind farms exploit wind energy more comprehensively and efficiently than the local bird population, though.

  • mtrueman||

    "I'm still betting that wind farms exploit wind energy more comprehensively and efficiently than the local bird population, though."

    Why? Birds only need wings to exploit the winds, something every chick has. Man needs turbines and such equipment. Man is born with neither wings nor turbines.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Maybe not more efficiently. But I also said comprehensively: as in, the bird doesn't need as much infrastructure to exploit the wind (eg its own body and food/water to keep it going), but it also doesn't exploit as much (because it's a tiny bird). Even if the ratio of "expended resources to exploited energy" is better for the bird, the wind farm catches vastly more of the wind energy in the area and, thus, represents an increase in exploitation of wind energy in the given area.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Except as we advance as a culture, our impact actually lessens. We, in America produce more fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and dairy with fewer acres and less head of stock then we did at the end of the ,1970s. And our population is much larger. Also, we produce more agricultural goods then we can utilize so we are a net exporter of agricultural goods.

  • soldiermedic76||

    In fact, not that it is exactly libertarian (nor am I endorsing it) but we actually produce so many agricultural goods we actually pay people not to produce.

  • Yoshooa||

    Yup, as technology and our understanding advances, we are definitely able to reduce our impacts per individual.

    But it doesn't matter when the population of humans on earth is so completely out of balance with the rest of the natural world, and we show no signs of stopping making new babies. Last I heard the statisticians are expecting us to top out around 11-12 billion.

    You would have to radically impact the lifestyle that everyone in the world wants to support that many of us without running great risk of damaging global ecosystems beyond repair. No one is going to do that willingly, not until it's way too late.

  • Yoshooa||

    Yup, as technology and our understanding advances, we are definitely able to reduce our impacts per individual.

    But it doesn't matter when the population of humans on earth is so completely out of balance with the rest of the natural world, and we show no signs of stopping making new babies. Last I heard the statisticians are expecting us to top out around 11-12 billion.

    You would have to radically impact the lifestyle that everyone in the world wants to support that many of us without running great risk of damaging global ecosystems beyond repair. No one is going to do that willingly, not until it's way too late.

  • Yoshooa||

    U.S. population is a small fraction of the overall growth in the last 37 years, and the efficiency gains we've realized, even if they could be exported to the entire world (which they can't), aren't nearly enough to offset the damage being caused by simply having that many more people to support.

    We're kicking the legs out from underneath the table that we all rely on to support us, and the author of this article wants to say 'nah bro it's all good we're actually doing way better! it's just *change*, but no freight train is coming straight for us. Keep doing what you're doing. It's all good.' - Exactly the message libertarians want to hear. Every man for themselves.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    the efficiency gains we've realized, even if they could be exported to the entire world (which they can't)

    Oh?

  • Yoshooa||

    If you export modern western lifestyle to the rest of the world, you will simply hasten the collapse of the very ecosystems we depend on.

    There is a reason the great barrier reef is dying off. There is a reason the plankton counts in the ocean have fallen by 40% since the beginning of the 20th century.

    These are symptoms of too much pressure being on the very base of the systems that allow us to go on. You act like human survival is solely dependent on us being able to grow enough food, get enough clean water, etc. It's an amazingly small minded view, and I suspect you have it because it allows you to go on feeling like you (and we) don't need to change anything.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    4 days later, huh? You make corpse-fucking an art.

    If you're saying that exporting our lifestyle to starving countries is destructive, that's a very different assertion than saying that it can't be done, which is what it sounded like you were saying. And it's the latter interpretation I was responding to.

    As to your assertion that we're "putting too much pressure on the base of the system", I agree that sea and air pollution are a serious problem. Where we disagree is the belief that state action to reduce the fucking population is a preferable alternative. Fertilizer run-off and carbon warming aren't good, but the only way to stop them other than technological advancement (and you will note that faith in such advancement is a major part of my and Bailey's point) is to reduce food and energy consumption, respectively. Eg: to make humanity's population much poorer at the same size, or kill a whole lot of people.

    So, Yosh: which is it? Misery or mass death? Which of those is the antidote to my "amazingly small-minded worldview"?

  • Yoshooa||

    Yeah I dunno man I guess I have a life to live and am not particularly concerned with arguing on the internet. I mean, if that's your highest priority in life, more power to you, but again I'd say that's a symptom of a narrow mind.

    That aside, when did I advocate killing people again? Oh, that's right, not ever. You're clearly projecting what you WANT my position to be, rather than stating what it actually is.

    As for the misery or mass death, as Physicist Dr. Albert Bartlett so brilliantly put it in his wonderful lecture 'Arithmetic, Population and Energy' (link right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI1C9DyIi_8) - we can make some hard choices, or nature will make them for us.

    You really should watch the lecture. You might learn something.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Returning to a thread four days after it has gone dead and responding is known as "corpse-fucking". I check every thread I comment in once a day for a week afterward; most people don't, which is why it is usually considered an obnoxious way of getting the last word. If it takes 4 days to come back, let the thread stay dead.

    Sadly, I have just little enough of a life that I can afford to take 10 minutes per day to check my comments, but not so little of a life that I'm going to stop and listen to a Random Alarmist make arguments that I would need to take further time to look up the rational rebuttals to.

    Anyway, I accused you of advocating "mass death or misery". Not necessarily the former. And you can't really deny wanting the latter, when you say you agree with a guy who thinks we have to "make some hard choices".

    "Hard choices".

    I wonder what those might involve.

    Because whatever they are, I'd be willing to bet they're gonna be "mass"... And if it didn't end in some sort of misery, then why would you be calling it a "hard" choice, hmm?

    Either you think we can solve this problem without "hard choices", or you're advocating mass misery (/death). There's no option 3.

  • tlapp||

    Interesting take. The environmental movement is afraid of change, when the history of the earth and species is a history of constant change. Likewise with climate change it is all doom and gloom warnings even with the science showing the earth has been both warmer and colder than now.
    Warming will make some areas capable of growing crops that are now unable. Melting mountain snow can make more fresh water available. But then again for those good things to happen you would have to believe in the failed climate models.

  • soldiermedic76||

    It always amazes me how many myths surround agriculture. I have a M.S. in animal science, am an off campus university professor, who specializes in agricultural science and outreach, I interact daily with farmers and ranchers on the northern Prairie. I grew up where the palouse meets the Bitterroota in northern Idaho. My first job was working as a farm hand, at the age of 14. What most people post about agriculture is no where close to being accurate. However, it was accurate in the 1950s or 60s. It no longer is. Farmers generally rotate their crops, and grow grains one year and broad leaves (especially legumes) the next year. They plant cover crops, and utilize no-till. Intercropping is being researched and in some cases is already utilized. Ranchers rotate their cattle. Practice intensive grazing management, spend time and energy on habitat improvement.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Many farmers and ranchers have college degrees. They attend continueing education and are well versed in sciences such as animal, range and agronomy.
    This is also true for the timber industry.
    Farmers, ranchers and loggers are not short sighted. They understand abusing the environment would be detrimental to the long term success. They depend on the land for their livelihood and act accordingly. Most I have met are willing, even eager to adapt newer and more substainable methods, as long as you can demonstrate a benefit. However, demonize them, and like any human being they will become defensive.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Rotations differ from area to area I should state. Generally here, in my area the grow small grains for 3-4 years and then rotate in a pulse crop such as yellow peas or lentils.

  • Eman||

    Whats really stupid is the tendency of people who worry about man made climate change to be the same people who think there's no categorical difference between humans and other animals. But beaver dams, anthills, and birds nests and holes; anything that has ever been alive, whatever that means, has changed its environment, to whatever extent it can, to be less hostile to its kind of life.
    How is anything humans do any different?

  • Eman||

    Whats really stupid is the tendency of people who worry about man made climate change to be the same people who think there's no categorical difference between humans and other animals. But beaver dams, anthills, and birds nests and holes; anything that has ever been alive, whatever that means, has changed its environment, to whatever extent it can, to be less hostile to itself.
    How is anything humans do any different?

  • Eman||

    What makes it unnatural? Is what i mean.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Beavers can be extremely destructive. When I lived in Anchorage, a pair of beavers built a dam on a creek in a city park. The destroyed all the trees on an island that waterfowl used to nest on. The next spring the ducks returned but seagulls destroyed the nests, the ducks left and didn't return. People complained about the lack of waterfowl.

  • mtrueman||

    "to whatever extent it can, to be less hostile to itself.
    How is anything humans do any different?"

    We do the opposite. We make our environment more hostile to us. If you doubt me, suck on the tail pipe of a car with its engine on for a day or so.

  • Nuwanda||

    ...giant moas eaten to extinction by the Maoris' Polynesian ancestors...

    Moa were extinguished by the Maori themselves, not their Polynesian ancestors.

  • renewableguy||

    https://goo.gl/9qj6GL

    The effects of ocean acidification on the marine biosphere have yet to be documented.[80] Laboratory experiments suggest beneficial effects for a few species, with potentially highly detrimental effects for a substantial number of species.[79] With medium confidence, Fischlin et al. (2007)[81] projected that future ocean acidification and climate change would impair a wide range of planktonic and shallow benthic marine organisms that use aragonite to make their shells or skeletons, such as corals and marine snails (pteropods), with significant impacts particularly in the Southern Ocean.

    Will we benefit from this change? Ocean acidification has many entanglements. How long before the positives show up in this?

  • renewableguy||

    How much do you insist on your favorite sea foods before they become too scarce? As oxygen depletion decreases, is it too late for our favorite sea foods?

  • renewableguy||

    The study, carried out at Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Germany, was the most comprehensive of the subject to date. The fall in oxygen levels has been attributed to global warming and the authors warn that if it continues unchecked, the amount of oxygen lost could reach up to 7% by 2100. Very few marine organisms are able to adapt to low levels of oxygen.

    https://goo.gl/ddNbDH

    This goes with my comment above.

  • renewableguy||

    How much do oceans add to world's oxygen?
    By EarthSky in EARTH | SCIENCE WIRE | June 8, 2015
    Most of Earth's oxygen comes from tiny ocean plants – called phytoplankton – that live near the water's surface and drift with the currents.

    https://goo.gl/29DJH2

    Ocean acidification affects phytoplankton in the oceans. How well will phytoplankton do in our oceans as they (the oceans) acidify.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Damn you! You've doomed us all!

  • DrunkDante||

    Of course, man kills nature. The industrial industry does not stand still. Constantly increases the consumption of water and electricity. Which leads to an increasingly polluted environment. Too little used solar panels and wind farms. At the heart of it is either atomic or thermal power plants. And the factories? Even more pollution. Deforestation, waste in the oceans. All this destroys the earth.
    Have you ever wondered how much you spend electricity per day? The energy that would boil an ordinary teapot to spend an incredible amount. You just look at the power consumption of the most ordinary electric kettles- https://www.bestadvisers.co.uk/electric-kettles !
    But there are computers, TVs, boilers, and other electronics. While humanity will not find an alternative source of energy, we will sooner and faster roll into the abyss.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    LOL, top marks.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Oh, holy shit, open boldface tab!

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