Browsing All Posts filed under »Anthropocene«

More public hurt from welfare ranching . . .

March 14, 2012


What to do about the Cattlemen’s Beef Association's imperial control over federal land-use policy in the West? From an essay by Christopher Ketchum in The American Prospect comes some acute observations about the power abuse in the face of common sense and at the expense of the public and the land:

“It’s almost a matter of religiosity that the real costs of ranching are paid for by the public,” says Brian Ertz, media director with the Western Watersheds Project. “Democratic and Republican congresspersons alike make their way up through political environments of extreme livestock--culture-dominated political organizations. The statehouses are dominated by livestock interests, and that’s where the federal representatives cut their teeth.” Click on title for more . . .

The Plateau as Canary

December 16, 2011


I like this idea of Kirk Johnson's of the Green blog at the New York Times. The fragile Colorado Plateau acting as canary in the coal mine. It doesn't take a dust storm in Arizona to notice that the air is always hazier on the Plateau than it was even 10 years ago. So few people live on the Plateau that man made haze here is a sign of illness elsewhere. ...more>>

Conservative idea, temporarily disavowed.

November 5, 2011


Conservatives originally proposed that markets could help correct mans impact on the environment. Just get the cost of environmental degradation included in the cost of production. According to Steve Zwick at Forbes, the idea had some traction until the whole conservative movement "went collectively insane." . . . more>>

Earth’s Great Omninvore

November 1, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about the fact that the planet now has 7 billion people alive on it, all at the same time. I think just knowing the fact makes it seem more crowded. We are up from 6 billion souls in just 12 years. I wrote earlier about the latest epoch becoming known as the Anthropocene, the age of man. Here, Wired magazine has an essay with some jaw dropping perspectives to help make sense of 7 billion. . . . more>>

You can “see” more clearly from up there.

October 20, 2011


In my last blog I noted how the air is almost always hazy in the West these days, even in open space hundreds of miles away from urban areas. One of the reasons I notice this is that I am a private pilot and and you notice haze more from up there. The Grand Canyon Trust just posted a piece on a pilots group out of Aspen that takes advantage of their general aviation planes to show the conservation issues facing national parks in the Southwest to folks, particularly students, from the air. Cool. It's part of what is called EcoFlight’s Flight Across America. . . . more>>

Have you noticed that it is almost always hazy?

October 20, 2011


I was at a star gazing party in southern Utah recently and met a businessman my age as he showed me around his telescope setup. As we got to know each other it turned out this guy, who seemed otherwise a lot like me, was a climate change denier. He told me his reasons and I listened. He was pretty sure of himself. The only notion that seemed to set him back was the observation that the air around Capitol Reef National Park, air that used to be so clear there were view point signs touting it (150 miles visibility used to be), is now almost always hazy. He had noticed that too. Here, William Anderson, chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes in southeastern Nevada, talks about the external cost of air pollution and benefits of clean air, that is the externalities that don't show up on a balance sheet or income statement but are real none the less, in this concise entry from Writers on the Range. . . .more>>

Value of wilderness debate: Wilderness wins 9:1

October 19, 2011


I found this debate in The Economist to be a terrific, brainy way to get a review of how we got to where we are today on our sense of the value of wilderness. The best points I thought were made by "featured guest" contributors that centered on the relatively poor results environmentalists achieve when they take a no compromise position. Michael Shellenberger & Ted Nordhaus make the lucid point that,

Ignoring those questions (of how to manage development), and engaging in romantic visions that such a world can be sustained through small-is-beautiful projects, imperils the effort to produce a beautiful and healthy planet more than any corporation or government.
It is surprising to me that readers of The Economist would be so profoundly in favor of the notion that:
This house believes that untouched wildernesses have a value beyond the resources and other utility that can be extracted from them.
. . . more>>

Mike Noel embarasses himself all the way to the U.K.

October 14, 2011


Speaking of cronyism, I can't resist posting this one. Rick Perry's campaign is caught censoring scientific climate in this report from The Guardian in Britain. And, as they note,

In Utah, meanwhile, Mike Noel, a Republican member of the Utah state legislature called on the state university to sack a physicist who had criticised climate science doubters. The university rejected Noel's demand, but the physicist, Robert Davies said such actions had had a chilling effect on the state of climate science. "We do have very accomplished scientists in this state who are quite fearful of retribution from lawmakers, and who consequently refuse to speak up on this very important topic. And the loser is the public," Davies said in an email. "By employing these intimidation tactics, these policymakers are, in fact, successful in censoring the message coming from the very institutions whose expertise we need.". . . more>>

World’s first International Dark Sky Park is in Utah

September 27, 2011


International Dark Sky Park In 2006 the International Dark-skies Association designated a small park in Utah, Natural Bridges National Monument, as the world’s first International Dark-sky Park, thereby setting the bar incredibly high for those parks that wanted to follow suit. The skies above Natural Bridges are amongst the darkest in the USA. Once a source of wonder--and one half of the entire planet’s natural environment—the star-filled nights of just a few years ago are vanishing in a yellow haze. Human-produced light pollution not only mars our view of the stars; poor lighting threatens astronomy, disrupts ecosystems, affects human circadian rhythms, and wastes energy to the tune of $2.2 billion per year in the U.S. alone. Read more . . .

Bark Beetle Infestation Accelerating

September 23, 2011


Kirsten and I are taking a drive through western Colorado next week, working our way up from Durango, through Silverton, Paonia, Steamboat Springs and the Rocky Mountain National Park to Denver for the Mountain and Plains booksellers trade show there. Along the way we are going to see alarming, heartbreaking swaths of rust colored evergreens. Warming winters have allowed waves of beetles to gnaw their way through millions of acres of forests in Utah and across the West. It's sadly amusing to watch the western politicians blame a lack of logging. But the problem is climate change and the beetles are getting worse, not better. Brandon Loomis has a terrific essay in the Salt Lake Tribune yesterday covering the bark beetle sad state of affairs. . . . more>>

Post-Primeval Poop Primer

September 22, 2011


The first shit in the woods is a pure rite of passage for any mountain person. Sure, you can be a casual day hiker for years and avoid it, and maybe even last through a few overnight trips. But sooner or later, you’ll need to confront your ancestral self and drop one amongst the evergreens, without your favorite magazine, scented candle, or plush bathroom rug under your toes. Brendon Leonard takes us for a true out back journey. . . .more>>

It’s a Global Garden

September 17, 2011


It doesn't have to be pure wilderness to be valuable as natural landscape. "We are already running the whole Earth, whether we admit it or not. To run it consciously and effectively, we must admit our role and even embrace it. We must temper our romantic notion of untrammeled wilderness and find room next to it for the more nuanced notion of a global, half-wild rambunctious garden, tended by us." From Emma Marris's new book Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World more>>