Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Manipulating Macho B

Well, well, well. It looks like the whole Macho B disaster may be even worse that we suspected. It turns out that the use of female scat to lure jaguars to camera traps in the borderlands may not have only killed Macho B. It might have also confused him into thinking there was a female around, causing him to hang out in Arizona longer than he would have.
[F]rom Thorry Smith's interview with Arizona Game and Fish for the agency's internal investigation. Talking about Emil McCain, he described McCain pulling a scat out of a bag. "He said -- it's kind of hush hush. And I assumed that wasn't because we were doing our snaring up there it was because he had published a paper in the Journal of Mammalogy and that wasn't in the methods."

Later in the transcript, Smith takes on the point more directly. He said of McCain "His point in that paper was that there was a male jaguar that may have been residential in the United States. He didn't say that he put female jaguar there maybe to keep him that way. So that might blow that paper out of the water."
So, not only does it appear that Mr. McCain was heavily invested in getting a collar on Macho B, but perhaps he was already manipulating his movements. Not disclosing this in the methods section is a big, fat mistake.


The Arizona Game and Fish Department has published its critique of the Office of the Inspector General report on the Macho B investigation. The AZGFD is quick to point its fingers at the errors of the OIG report and to distance itself from Emil McCain.

Interestingly, and perhaps revealingly, the AGFD specifically calls out the OIG out this quote, from an unidentified FWS biologist:
"he was intimidated by [AGFD employee] Terry Johnson and his attitude that the AZGFD could do whatever it wanted in Arizona."
The AGFD response:
"Not only does this quotation prove nothing more than the state of mind of its anonymous speaker, the use of the quote invites the reader to draw the inference that AGFD's leading jaguar conservationist and, by extension, AGFD itself, are scofflaws who blatantly disregard federal wildlife laws when it suits them."
Uh, yeah. That's kinda what we think, but not just because of the OIG report. Because of interference with releases of endangered species in Mexico, because of trying to block critical habitat designations, because of, oh... all kinds of things really. Terry Johnson may have a black eye, but it isn't the OIG that punched him. The OIG just pointed it out.


If anyone is interested in the latest he said/she said on whether or not the snare that trapped Macho B was baited, you can read this piece at the AZ Daily Star. We're with Janay on this one, but you can decide for yourself.


Dear Spanish lynx,

Please watch where you walk. And be on alert for a shortish, blondish, bearded fellow who apparently has no shame or integrity.

Demarcated Landscapes

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Endgame (Vol I): The Problem of Civilization

A tanker carrying coal crashed into the Great Barrier Reef today.

This is not a metaphor.


We were gifted with a copy of Derrick Jensen's book, Endgame, about a week ago. We're sort of listening to sermons here, and we're already believers. But he's a good writer, and mostly rather succinct. As such, it's been a bit difficult to put down.

We're struck by his love of the world and his clear calls to action. He asks repeatedly what it will take for us to stand up to the life-killing capitalists that are destroying the planet. He actively encourages the dismantling of civilization. But he's got options too:
If you agree with all this, and if you don’t want to dirty your spirituality and conscience with the physical work of helping to bring down civilization, and if your primary concern really is for the well-being of those (humans) who will be alive during and immediately after the crash (as opposed to simply raising this issue because you’re too scared to talk about the crash or to allow anyone else to do so either), then, given (and I repeat this point to emphasize it) that civilization is going to come down anyway, you need to start preparing people for the crash. Instead of attacking me for stating the obvious, go rip up asphalt in vacant parking lots to convert them to neighborhood gardens, go teach people how to identify local edible plants, even in the city (especially in the city) so these people won’t starve when the proverbial shit hits the fan and they can no longer head off to Albertson’s for groceries. Set up committees to eliminate or, if appropriate, channel the (additional) violence that might break out.

We need it all. We need people to take out dams and we need people to knock out electrical infrastructures. We need people to protest and to chain themselves to trees. We also need people working to ensure that as many people as possible are equipped to deal with the fallout when the collapse comes. We need people working to teach others what wild plants to eat, what plants are natural antibiotics. We need people teaching others how to purify water, how to build shelters. All of this can look like supporting traditional, local knowledge, it can look like starting rooftop gardens, it can look like planting local varieties of medicinal herbs, and it can look like teaching people how to sing.
Do you find this inspiring or frightening? For us, it's a little of both. We're afraid of the post-civilized world even if we know that the "civilized world" is equally brutal.

Anyway, we're only about a half inch into the book, so if any of our readers are also reading it, let's work through it together. You can contact us via email, send us your thoughts, hopes, deconstructions... we'll think on it and paste it here (anonymously, if you prefer).

Thursday, April 01, 2010

What if climate change wasn't real?

Climate skeptics have been clamoring ever so much more loudly since the Climategate scandal of late 2009. ["Climategate" is the first option that pops up when one starts typing "clima..." into Google, if we need further proof.] It's ridiculous. The amount of airtime this non-controversy is hogging just serves to validate the spin a few highly-paid oil industry shills are selling. So, that's the last you'll hear from us here on that topic. Moving on to real discussions....

What if human-caused climate change were not real? Would thinking people still be modifying our behaviors for economic and social reasons? For example, the choice to bike instead of drive can be justified for a host of reasons- none of them carbon-footprint reducing- that still add up to a reasonable person making this choice. War, for one. Air pollution (non GHG), for another. And hey, how about health if you are entirely self-centered? There are lots of reasons to ride bikes.

What about changing your lightbulbs? Does that still make sense without climate change? You bet. So does eating less meat. Many of the "green living" changes people are making in context of climate change are valid changes whether or not the world is heating up. So, isn't it rational to simply create a better world- individually and collectively- regardless of what happens when greenhouse gases hang out in the atmosphere? Why is that so hard to accept?

We'd posit that it isn't hard to accept as individuals, but the corporations have no such incentives. Corporations don't care about making the world better; they care about their shareholders wallets. It is a threat to the corporations for us to stop consuming-disposing-consuming and instead invest our time and energy in other ways. With less money, they'll have less power, and with less power, they'll have less influence on legislation. With less corporate influence on legislation, we might just have a rational policy response to the massive evidence that climate change is occurring, and at an alarming rate.