Monday, June 13, 2011

Rethinking Environmentalism

Rethinking Environmentalism
Copyright © 2011 C. R. Edmunds

You can’t see the forest for the trees – an apt description of
environmentalist litigation-driven forest management resulting in fires like the more than 700 square mile Wallow Fire in Arizona.
As the Wallow Fire in Arizona and New Mexico approaches the half-million acre mark it consumes hundreds of square miles of forest that includes protected habitat of endangered species, not to mention non-endangered species like elk, rabbits, songbirds, coyotes and – oh yeah – humans. The Wallow is not a “normal” or “healthy” wildfire. This is another in a series of catastrophic wildfires predicted to keep happening. It is a wildfire that has just destroyed what has been called the largest stand of old-growth Ponderosa pine in the world.

For decades our resource management agencies have been slammed with lawsuit after lawsuit under the guise of protecting our environment. Even so, after the last catastrophic wildfire in Arizona (the half-million acre Rodeo-Chediski fire in 2002) President Bush passed the Healthy Forests Restoration Act. The aim was to allow federal forest management agencies to address the millions of small-diameter trees that make up so much of today’s Ponderosa pine forests. These trees aren’t saplings - they are trees that are around a century old that can’t grow any larger because of overcrowded forest conditions. They burn like matchsticks.

The problem is that environmental groups kept suing to stop the forest restoration work. The result is litigation-managed national forests based on environmental group claims that their science is the only way to go, that somehow their science is better than any that would allow forest restoration.

It’s not hard to understand that a million acres of burned up forest, wildlife and human habitat in under a decade in one state alone says pretty clearly that the environmentalist agenda for forest management doesn’t work. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and the pudding has burned to a crisp.

It is no news that forests that are not logged and that are also subject to rigorous fire suppression are at the most risk of catastrophic fire. Why, then, do environmental groups fight so hard against any other science, such as that of the science of forest restoration to maximize forest health?

Well, when an environmental group has major income from litigation, and has a tremendous budget for soliciting donations, what do you expect? They aren’t about to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs with science that is good for the environment - they only use science that supports their litigation.

Environmental groups make a tremendous amount of money. A quick survey of some of the top-earning “environmental conservation” groups at shows that these groups reported literally billions of dollars of income to the IRS last year. Yes, you read it right, billions (see sample below). And that’s just one year’s income. Wouldn’t you think that with that much money coming in to environmental organizations, we should see some real environmental improvement around us?

So here’s my suggestion. The next time you receive a contribution request from an environmental group claiming they’re going to protect a plant or animal species you care about, ask yourself this: Just what has this group actually accomplished so far for the environment? Sure, they’ll tell you that the reason they need more money is because the “bad guys” (government or usually some natural resource based industry) are doing so much damage.

I say it’s not about any anti-environment bad guys. It’s not really about the environment at all. Just follow the money.

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