Friday, July 29, 2011

Screwing Mexican wolves: Pearce's grand plan

Representative Steve Pearce (R-NM) intends to introduce a rider on the current Interior Appropriations Bill that would defund the Mexican gray wolf recovery program. What an ass! This, despite evidence that the majority of voters in New Mexico support wolf recovery!

The program, which has limped along despite major setbacks in the form of anti-wolf policy and livestock-industry directives, has recently been doing pretty well for itself. The wolves themselves are doing swimmingly, despite major fires in their home ranges and a lack of new releases of potential mates in the recovery area.

This is the most endangered mammal in the United States. Defunding their recovery program will doom them to extinction.

Please go to this website and take action. This will be heard on the House floor as early as tomorrow (July 30) and Congress needs to hear from all of us.

It's true, there are lots of crappy riders.

The sweetheart deal for the sheep industry, introduced by Idaho's Mike Simpson, is also ridiculously egregious, especially in a Congress that isn't supposed to allow for earmarks. (Repubs, always there to be hypocrites...)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We Heart Bidder 70

In what is surely one of the better speeches of 2011, Tim DeChristopher used his pre-sentencing speech yesterday to deliver an eloquent paean to justice, truth, and defense of Earth. The full text can be found here, but here are some highlights:
The rule of law is dependent upon a government that is willing to abide by the law. Disrespect for the rule of law begins when the government believes itself and its corporate sponsors to be above the law.
The reality is not that I lack respect for the law; it’s that I have greater respect for justice. Where there is a conflict between the law and the higher moral code that we all share, my loyalty is to that higher moral code.
The majority of the public is exploited by the status quo far more than they are benefited by it. The young are the most obvious group who is exploited and condemned to an ugly future by letting the fossil fuel industry call the shots.
The power of the Justice Department is based on its ability to take things away from people. The more that people feel that they have nothing to lose, the more that power begins to shrivel.
The people who are committed to fighting for a livable future will not be discouraged or intimidated by anything that happens here today. And neither will I. I will continue to confront the system that threatens our future. Given the destruction of our democratic institutions that once gave citizens access to power, my future will likely involve civil disobedience. Nothing that happens here today will change that. I don’t mean that in any sort of disrespectful way at all, but you don’t have that authority. You have authority over my life, but not my principles. Those are mine alone.
I’m not saying any of this to ask you for mercy, but to ask you to join me.
At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like. In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like. With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow. The choice you are making today is what side are you on.
It is clear that the Court was on the wrong side, like the BLM is on the wrong side, like the Department of Interior is on the wrong side. It's systemic, and it's not going to change until we stop participating.

People like us, well, sure, we go to public meetings and we speak up even when no one in the audience agrees with us. We call our Congresspeople to thank or spank them when necessary. We support myriad conservation groups and ride our bikes. We write our snarky little blog posts and wear political T-shirts. But have we ever actually put our bodies in front of the bulldozers or our bidding paddles in the air at a corrupt auction?


And it's clearly not enough.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Fugly

The Good: Once again, Congressman Grijalva tells it like it is.

His honest comments about future generations, the environment, and the Repugnanticans pandering to economic interests is like a light in the darkness that is Congress these days. In the speech linked above, he mostly focuses on the Grand Canyon uranium mining rider as a specific example (and it's a good one), but he also provides a general list of the ridiculous Appropriations amendments that the GOP has tacked on.

The Bad
: what he said. And more.

The Fugly: Representative Steve Pearce (NM). The guy is a complete dumbass. His rider defunds the Mexican gray wolf recovery based on the shaky claims:
In 1998 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), acting under authority granted to them by the Endangered Species Act, began implementing a plan to reintroduce Mexican Gray Wolves in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. The goal of the program was to establish a population of 100 wolves by 2006. After thirteen years, the reintroduction program is clearly failing with only 50 wolves reintroduced into the wild. Wolf populations are still struggling significantly, and the USFWS has been unable to foster significant growth among the population. It is irresponsible to continue spending money on programs that continue to underperform, and this is one of them.
What Pearce fails to admit is that the program has worked- it's saved a unique, amazing, and magnificent species from extinction.

Sure, it could be better. Killing and removing wolves for being wolves hasn't helped. And who does this, you ask? Well, none other than the captured agency, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who have "removed" (lethally or permanently) approximately 60 wolves from the wild for eating cows. Cows that are displacing the native prey species, mind you. Cows whose owners are paying $1.35 a month per cow to eat ~1000 lbs of wildflowers, crap in the creek, and cause soil erosion. Such a deal!

So, Mr. Pearce, while you hold up the budget reconciliation project with your nonsense about programs losing money, we hold our noses at the stinking mess your cowboy buddies have made of our springs, seeps, and rivers, all the while losing MILLIONS EACH YEAR of taxpayer dollars.

Talk about an underperforming program!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Trap Free New Mexico!

This is a new website for an organization that seeks to end private trapping on public lands of New Mexico. Rather than repeat their content here, we urge you to visit their site, poke around, and sign the petition.

(Do you ever just feel like screaming: "It's 2011! It's 2011! COME ON, PEOPLE!")

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Arizona Maim and Squish Department persists in cruel and unusual entertainment

Sick. We follow Arizona Game and Fish Department on Facebook, but today they posted this announcement:
We're looking for some help for this upcoming camp. We need a few folks that can call in coyotes for this youth varmint hunting camp. If you can call, contact the folks at Youth Outdoors Unlimited, they do great stuff for passing on the hunting tradition.
The hunting tradition, indeed. That tradition of wantonly killing predators. That tradition of calling native wildlife "varmints" because they don't serve a (direct) purpose for humans, i.e. they can't be eaten or made into coats.

We suggest you do contact the folks at Youth Outdoors Unlimited, and their friends Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Arizona Game and Fish Department, and tell them all about how cruel and disgusting you find their traditions.

That is, after you're done being sick to your stomach.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The pot calling the kettle black

We've been hearing a lot of hemming and hawing about how the Obama Administration has let us all down, and we've been hemming and hawing ourselves. Upon further reflection, however, is it really any different than what most enviro groups do? Seriously, folks. We ought to take a good hard look in the mirror before we insist that Obama grow a spine.

For example, we dutifully pay membership fees (similar to voting) to organizations that are supposed to represent our interests. Oh, say: wolves. They pledge to recover wolves, restore wolves, keep wolves around for future generations... yada yada yada. And yet, when it comes to speaking out about the public land use that most endangers wolves (and many, many other species)?

Completely fucking silent.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Salazar must go! An open letter to President Obama.

Dear President Obama,

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar sucks.

We weren't particularly impressed with this appointment when it happened, given the man's background and the fact that you passed over the fantastic Representative Raúl Grijalva. We were mad, and unlike some conservation groups, saw the light about Salazar's dimness immediately.

And he's basically proved us right. He represents the livestock industry and has spent his non-fossil-fuel-disaster-making tenure basically fulfilling their wishlist: He failed to extend ESA protections to prairie dogs. He failed to protect sage-grouse. He delisted the Northern Rockies gray wolves and then, when they were relisted by the courts, colluded with rancher/politicians to legislate the ESA away.

And now, now he has colluded with Wyoming, that great state that represents itself with a bucking bronco on its license plate, to shoot wolves on sight outside of Yellowstone National Park.

How is this "change we can believe in"? It's regressive, pathetic, and contrary to the science you promised to lead with.

We're planning to call in sick on November 6, 2012. Because if you don't fix things pronto, we're pretty sure we will be.

The Landscapes

Sunday, July 03, 2011

What worries Margaret Atwood worries us, too


We just finished reading Oryx and Crake, which Wikipedia summarizes better than we can. It was published in 2003 and so we're a little late to this particular party, but better late than never. Maybe. It definitely requires a stiff upper lip and a pitcher of mojitos.

Basically, it's a post-apocalyptic vision of a world in which bioengineering solutions to famine, over population, and climate change become the future's worst nightmare, a world where spliced artificial species replace all the real ones when corporations profit motives replace good sense. It's a troublesome book because, as the author says, nothing she write about hasn't been invented or begun to be invented.

Particularly troublesome to us was the descriptions of future climate including daily storms, searing heat, cessation of all snowfall, changed locations of major cities, etc. Having just read Elizabeth Kolbert's excellent call-out of President Obama in the New Yorker (full text here), we're freshly convinced we're doomed in this department.
Obama knows—and, indeed, has stated as much—that if we continue along our present path we’ll guarantee our children a much more dangerous future. Taking the steps that would reduce the risks of climate change is not going to be politically popular, which is why it is the President’s obligation to press for them. It may be beyond our power to control the climate, but we can determine it. This is precisely what we’re doing right now, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.
President Obama is failing us, and failing future generations (and present non-human ones) by acting like the unusual weather patterns this summer are merely an Act of God and failing to act like the leader of a country that needs to get its head out of its ass.

We'd rather not end up like Atwood's Snowman or any of the other humans in her novel. This isn't a joke. This isn't researchers looking for grant money. This is a possible future, an ugly, awful, painful future.