Thursday, December 30, 2010

End of year donations

It's that time of year when good concerned citizens get out their checkbooks and write a few checks to conservation organizations. We are no exception and though our checks tend to be on the small end (i.e. we don't get invited to too many 'big donor' parties), we like to think that our (by which we mean yours, too) collective action keeps these important organizations solvent. A few of our chosen recipients:

Great Old Broads for Wilderness. You don't have to be great or old or a broad to join them and we consider these folks the charismatic megafauna of the movement. While their commitment to protection and conservation is never in doubt, they ALWAYS look like they are having fun doing it. Bless 'em, and send them a check, too.

Western Watersheds Project
. Readers of DL know that we've got profound respect for these folks and their "take no prisoners" approach to public lands ranching. They basically kick ass with a small, committed staff and a smart advisory board. Check out the 2010 summary of successes. Good stuff.

Advocates for the West
. Despite the ridiculous claims by Karen Budd-Falen, environmental attorneys are rarely well-paid for the tremendous work they do. Supporting them is a way of acknowledging the need for court victories when it comes to changing the west.

Buffalo Field Campaign. These folks are on the front lines in the battle between native species and the "white man's west." We've got nothing but respect for their efforts and we send them checks and anything we can from their "wish list" every winter. Someday we'll join them in the snow.

We also try to send a few gifts to regional conservation groups working on specific campaigns in the places we live. These are the folks we want to be able to call and kvetch about local issues and it helps to grease the skids with some bucks each year, as well as to show a local commitment. We are sure you have a few of those too.

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As far as the organizations getting a lump of coal this year, well, our Facebook friends know we've got a big bone to pick with Defenders of Wildlife. First, we received six sample greeting cards from them, encouraging us to order our own for the holidays. Then, we received wrapping paper, stickers, and mailing labels from them asking us to join/renew our membership. And then, last week, we received a plastic pen in a bunch of mailing packaging asking us to sign a petition and join/renew. If we joined/renewed at a certain level, we'd get a messenger bag or a thermos. But if we only joined at the $25 level- well, it sure seemed like they had already spent nearly that much on the greeting cards, wrapping paper, postage, pen, and paper they had sent us encouraging us to support them. We support some of Defenders' work, but the membership methods are appalling. For a conservation organization to send unsolicited crap in the mail like this is a real turn off. And it makes us think you don't really need our money.
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Please feel free to suggest additional organizations in the comments section. We're an Equal Opportunity Donor; just spare us the plastic crap.

A living wage

We were recently discussing conservation salaries with a professionally environmentalist friend of ours. This person is the executive director of a non-profit and was saying how it is important to pay people a "living wage" for their work, a competitive salary to keep the best and brightest in the field.

Well, we've never been the kind of people who are conservationists for money, and our definition of "living wage" has changed a lot as we've seen how few wages people can live on. Besides, "living wage" basically means "middle class" existence in this context, and many environmental problems are actually caused by the middle class. The super rich cause a lot of problems because of how they got super rich, but it was middle class spending that let them float to the top of the pyramid. Rich people cause fewer environmental problems simply because there are less of them. The middle class ambitions of gadgets and big houses and sprawl and swimming pools and SUVs and Victoria's Secret inspire poor countries and poor counties to fall all over themselves (and the environment) to facilitate production and development of these consumer goods, in the hope they will rise up to the middle class themselves. It's a vicious cycle.

But back to ragging on enviros: It seems as though some people basically work as environmentalists to have their cake and eat it too: that is, to work all year on climate change issues and then, when their two weeks of vacation roll around, fly off to some island to snorkel and see the corals before they bleach. Sure, they might buy their carbon offsets in order to feel better about their trip.

And we know how well those work.

Friday, December 10, 2010

We'll take some "Good News" for $500, Alex

Photo credit: M. Shultz (via)

OK, look, if this is a consequence of global warming, we don't want to hear it. We'd rather just be happy to report that the short-tailed albatross, once profoundly endangered by fashionable hats, is now expanding its range.
Two pairs of the short-tailed albatross, thought to remain only on two Japanese islands, have been found nesting on Kure Atoll and on Midway Atoll, American national wildlife refuges in the Hawaiian Islands.
And not only geographic expansion, but perhaps a social expansion as well:
The birds that were recently found include one male-female pair, with a fertilized egg, and one female-female pair with two eggs. It is still unclear whether the eggs of the same-sex pair are fertilized.
Good for them. If only they could serve openly in the military. (Yeah, we know we said good news. Sorry about that.)

More about the critter here.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Guest post: Wolves in Trouble

This repost was kindly supplied to DL by Making Owls Cool (Since 1986) after we admired it on that blog. It sums up the issue quite nicely. Thanks, MOCS1986!

Macho B must be rolling in his grave...er...on his taxidermy mount. Who is Macho B you ask? Macho B was the last know jaguar in the United States. In 2009 scientists from AZFGD intentionally captured Macho B in a cruel leg snare. When it took the jaguar a while to adjust to its new radio collar, the AZ Fish and Genius Department mistook this readjustment for distress. AZFGD recaptured him, shipped him to Phoenix and euthanized him.

The event gained some media attention, but AZFGD just let some low-level workers get crucified for it and resumed making terrible, terrible ecological decisions. Now, AZFGD have like minded people in Washington, including that joke of an Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who, for whatever reason, feels it necessary to try to undo decades of conservation efforts and remove gray wolves from the endangered species list. If you grew up in the 1980's and 1990's, you'll remember how there were no wolves in the lower 48 states when we were young and what an amazing success story their recovery has been. Until now.

The Endangered Species Act requires that decisions to de-list species be made in view of scientific evidence. Now congress wants to de-list gray wolves. Congress is full of idiots, not zoologists, ecologists or biologists, so their qualifications to make such a decision are, well, nonexistent. Only their elevated sense of self-importance could explain why they would meddle with wolf conservation...or their transparent desire to gain votes at all costs. Either way, they are not qualified to decide what happens to wolves. Furthermore, allowing congress to determine the fates of native species sets a dangerous precedent and it must be stopped. You can contact the White House, voice your concern, and talk shit on Salazar here.

This is the wording of the congressional legislation:
"Notwithstanding any other provision of law (including regulations), the inclusion of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) (including any gray wolf designated as "non-essential experimental") on any list of endangered species or threatened species under section 4(c) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 ... shall have no force or effect."
See how it goes around the need for scientific evidence? It doesn't say they're off the list, just that the wolves' position on the list "shall have no force or effect." Evidence of both cowardice and duplicity.

Here in Arizona, the situation for wolves is particularly dire. Mexican wolves, a subspecies of the gray wolf, have only recently been reintroduced in the southwest. Fewer than 50 wolves remain in the wild. Yet, the worthless clowns making decisions over at AZGFD support the delisting of the gray wolf! You can read their convoluted, short, contradictory, shitsmear of an official statement here. It's not even well-written.

So what can we do? The immature, but oh-so-gratifying, thing to do is to go to the AZFGD Facebook page and voice your disgust over their support for delisting wolves. The mature, responsible thing to do is to write your legislators and tell them not to delist wolves or put the power to decide which species deserve protection in the hands of politicians. You can find your congressman or congresswoman here or your senator here.

Lobos of the Southwest (mexicanwolves.org) are the leading champions for the conservation of Mexican wolves and their website has a full toolbox of options to help concerned nature lovers defend our wild canine neighbors. If you sign up for their e-mail list, they really only send emails when urgent action is needed, not whenever the intern is bored like some other organizations. Or you could make a blog post to raise awareness of the imminent threat to wolves throughout the country. Just sayin'...

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We here at DL would simply add that Endangered Species Coordinator Terry Johnson might want to get his head checked. Something ain't right with that man... like he didn't get enough attention as a child and now he's throwing a very public hissy fit about how important he and the AGFD are to wolf "recovery." Maybe the Arizona Cattlegrowers will give him a medal of honor and he can retire to revel in that glory.