The Watering Hole; Thursday November 5 2015; Protect America’s Public Lands

Mt. Wilson, 14246 ft, in the Uncompahgre National Forest near Telluride, Colorado; July 2007

Mt. Wilson, 14246 ft, in the Uncompahgre National Forest near Telluride, Colorado; July 2007

“Nature makes only dumb animals. We owe the fools to society.”
(Honore de Balzac)

In the United States, Public Lands are, simply stated, all lands which are not privately held or owned. They consist of designated Wilderness and Primitive areas, National Parks, National Monuments, Bureau of Land Management acreages, National Forests, also state parks, state forests, county parks, city parks . . . the list of options is as varied as it is lengthy.

Today’s corporate monsters — those who believe that the most direct way to gain their power and wealth ‘fortunes’ is to extract the Earth’s resources — remain secure in their faux premise that all is well, knowing that even if the Earth should one day decide to fight back, it won’t matter . . . because by that time (in the immortal words of George W. Bush), “We’ll all be dead.”  Meanwhile, the planet warms steadily because of the CO2 released when fossil fuels are burned. As a result, hurricanes and typhoons increase in number and power. The polar caps melt. The ocean levels slowly rise and coastal areas submerge even as severe droughts and wildfires devastate once vibrant landscapes nearby.

And the demand to develop more and more fossil fuel resources constantly and continuously increases.

Humans have been here for but an eye’s wink of geologic time, yet ‘we’ consider our tenure more significant than all else combined, even as we fail to realize that Nature will one day soon teach us that she cares not whether we persist and survive. Or perish. One might conclude it would be useful, then, for us to at least TRY to comprehend appropriate details, then act to correct the ‘error(s) of our ways,’ to learn, to understand Nature in her very REAL sense, as opposed to, for example, the Biblical-Genesis non-sense. Such does not yet seem to be the case, however.

Sunrise over the Four Peaks Wilderness, Mazatzal Mountains, Arizona, ca 2005

Sunrise over the Four Peaks Wilderness, Mazatzal Mountains, Arizona, ca 2005

Regarding our Public Lands, disdain for them as a public resource is not new. It may seem more accelerated today, given the “urge” on the part of the fossil fuel industries to extract ever more carbon from the ground and make ever more profit in the process — a bad thing for sure — but beyond even that lies the Libertarian disparagement of anything other than private ownership, most especially of “Socialist” (read: public [government]) ownership and management. Almost ten years ago, for example, Canadian Libertarian Professor Ronald Homowy wrote, in April 2006, an essay that was highly critical of the environmental movement’s association with (and its support for the concept of) Public Lands. Homowy noted that

“. . . most environmentalists have extended [the] notion of public ownership to the whole of the natural world. They write of the ‘common heritage of all humanity’ and of ‘sharing the world’s resources equitably.’ It is as if each of us, when born, inherits our pro rata share of all the wealth of the world, the land and the oceans of the earth, and all that is on, above, or below it, without regard to the prevailing ownership of these resources. . . .”

Homowy continues his tirade, this time to the disparagement of any form of life that doesn’t contribute its ‘all’ to human PROFIT.

“If we were to accept the claims put forward by . . . ‘the deep ecologists,’ that rights extend to all forms of life and, in some instances, to inanimate objects as well, humanity would be frozen into inaction lest it trespass on the prerogatives of nature. What is particularly alarming is that this senseless conclusion, a clear reductio ad absurdum to most, is actually espoused by many prominent environmental spokesmen, whose antipathy for all human endeavor is one of the more repugnant aspects of their creed. For these writers humanism is a term of derision, which asserts the superiority of human life over animal and plant life and denies to non-human entities the rights that a properly construed morality dictates they possess. . . .”

So environmentalists don’t believe in human “superiority” over everything else? Environmentalists don’t or can’t understand that humans rule, period? And worse, they view “humanism” derisively? They believe that certain ‘rights’ extend to ‘all forms of life’? Gee. Whatever gave them such silly ideas?

Young deer, Apache National Forest near Bear Wallow Wilderness, Arizona

Young deer, Apache National Forest near Bear Wallow Wilderness, Arizona; ca 2002

About a year after Homowy wrote the above-noted screed, another Libertarian — Manuel Lora — added his two-bits worth and in the process brought forth the travesty of Public (not PRIVATE, i.o.w.) Land to the discussion. The following excerpts pretty much summarize Lora’s views and attitudes.

“I am not against nature or the preservation thereof. What I am against is the use of the state — the agent of institutionalized aggression — to advance the agenda of the conservation movement. It is imperative that the distinction be made between freedom and statism. While freedom involves property, prosperity, and free exchange, statism involves theft, plunder, and poverty. . . .”

“National parks are socialist parks. The same economic analysis used to determine the consequences of socialism can be applied to national parks, namely, that without a market there is simply no way to determine if the resources dedicated to the park system are being allocated efficiently. . . .”

“A natural park is a higher order good that could have alternate uses such as a residential development. And this is determined by the price that people would be willing to pay for that park or for similarly priced parks . . .”

“Lack of property rights is the problem; the value of endangered species is effectively zero. The state has claimed ownership rights over certain animals and bans their trade. There is no market for the polar bear or the bald eagle. And even though people value them because of their relative scarcity, there is no legal way to show demand for those animals in the market. . . .”

“The case that I have presented is a fairly simple one: the abolition of government parks and nature preserves. Only by having a market can there be a sane profit-loss policy. If we love nature and want to preserve it, true property rights are needed.”

Public Lands are “socialism.” “Residential development” in “a natural park” implies “a higher order good.” Also, private ownership of public lands would allow “endangered species” the chance of obtaining “market value” and hence, possibly even a viable reason to try and save them from presumed extinction. That to “preserve” the “nature” we all “love” there can be no public ownership of lands. Fascinating.

I’m guessing that the undercurrent in both Homowy’s and Lora’s theses is that MONEY is all there is, period, that defines the value of anything that exists anywhere on the planet. Period. No monetary value? Useless.

Dibe'Ntsaa -- Navajo Sacred Mountain of the North, San Juan National Forest, Colorado

Dibe’Ntsaa — Navajo Sacred Mountain of the North, San Juan National Forest, Colorado; 2003

The bottom line is that if left to the money-interests and to the far right political movement(s), land preservation — first initiated in the U.S. by that famous Republican President, Theodore Roosevelt — is doomed. As I write this, for example, I’m aware of the effort to officially grant a (foreign – Chilean) corporation the right to jeopardize the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota via Sulfide Iron Mining. It’s the money. Meanwhile, in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest, there is an effort currently underway to disallow the formal handing over of access to a parcel of land that is sacred to the Apache people — Oak Flat — to an Australian-British mining company (Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of the largest mining company in the world, Rio Tinto). There is apparently a vast underground copper reserve under Oak Flat, and that clearly means more to the world than do the sacred rights of a defeated tribe of aboriginal savages. It’s the money.

Greenhorn Peak Wilderness area in San Isabel National Forest, Colorado; 2008

Greenhorn Peak Wilderness area in San Isabel National Forest, Colorado; 2008

There is some potentially good news, however, in re the fight to protect Public Lands from destruction by the corporate money and political power interests. A “Keep It In The Ground” bill has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley – OR (Lead Sponsor), with co-sponsors Sen. Barbra Boxer – CA, Sen. Ben Cardin – MD, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – NY, Sen. Patrick Leahy – VT, Sen. Bernie Sanders – VT, and Sen Elizabeth Warren – MA. The bill clearly states the scientific reality that we must keep a significant percentages of earth’s remaining fossil fuel reserves underground to avoid climate disaster, and that if we have any hope of avoiding the worst effects of climate change, we must act to keep publicly-owned fossil fuel reserves completely off-limits.

Can such a bill — one that acknowledges Public Lands are NOT resources to be used by corporate and other private interests, that they are instead the people’s equity — actually pass through all congressional hurdles and make it to the President’s desk for signature? Doubtful, but it’s at least a start, a mega leap over a long history of inaction. Time will tell; we can hope.

“Could we, by some act of common will, change our natures and
become proper stewards, gentle gardeners taking care of all of the
natural life of our planet? I would sooner expect a goat to succeed
as a gardener than expect humans to become
responsible stewards of the Earth.”
(Dr. James Lovelock, author, “The Gaia Hypothesis”)

Sunset over the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Arivaca Arizona; 2003

Sunset over the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Arivaca Arizona; 2003

Join the fight to save ALL of our Public Lands.


81 thoughts on “The Watering Hole; Thursday November 5 2015; Protect America’s Public Lands

  1. Excellent post, frugal. I was reminded of the time I was invited to the home of the sister of a good friend. My friend’s sister had recently married to a German man who was making a lot of money as a woodcarver. He was also a hunter who had adorned a room with a variety of mounted heads and stuffed animals that he had bagged over the years. After the new wife bragged about his skills as a hunter she related how her husband was going to build a museum to house all his trophies so children in the future would be able to see what some animals that would be extinct by then looked like. 😯

  2. I will come back to Fru’s post in my next comment. But first:

    On this day in 1605, during a routine search of the merchants’ storage area under the Houses of Parliament in London, a man was discovered guarding a large number of barrels of gunpowder, with a slow match ready to set them off. Above, the next day, the King, James 1st of England and James 6th of Scotland (the crown had been combined after Elizabeth 1st’s death and given to James because, even though he was a Scot, at least he wasn’t Catholic).

    The man, a Catholic called Guido Fawkes, was taken to the Tower and ‘put to the question’. He gave the names of a number of co-conspirators in a plot to kill James and his government and start a pro-Catholic rebellion, heartily encouraged by the Catholic King of Spain. All of the men were rounded up and their fates, needless to say were gruesome.

    And since then, every 5th November, the English march to a place in their town and make a bonfire, light gunpowder fireworks and burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes, the ‘Guy’. It is all rather rabidly jingoistic. The evening is lots of fun, with chestnuts and cider, mulled wine and hot pies.

    All of us as kids, along with Humpty Dumpty, learned this rhyme:

    “Remember, remember,
    The Fifth of November,
    Gunpowder treason and plot;
    For I see no reason
    Why Gunpowder Treason
    Should ever be forgot”

    In later years, the parades have been opportunities to make political statements about who the villains of the year are. The Anonymous mask and V for Vendetta, chose Guy Fawkes, one of history’s ultimate revolutionaries, as the face of their movements. And at the Southern town of Lewes, they go all in. Check this out – this year’s effigies: Prime Minister David Cameron and head of FIFA, Sepp Blatter.

  3. Yes Fru, great post – and some sweet photos, reminds me of my several visits to Durango, Pagosa Springs, Breckinridge (out of ski season of course) and the San Juan wilderness ….. so nice and beautiful.

    I heard of the ‘keep it in the ground bill’ just today on the radio. It won’t pass… this time…

    • Thanks, T. And yes, the entire of the San Juan and Uncompahgre corner of Colorado is most easily described in one word: exquisite. The only sour notes are spots where humans have screwed things up, but there’s nothing unusual about that little tidbit.

  4. I have it on good authority that the streets of Bucharest and other Romanian cities will be full of people again tonight. It’s an anti-corruption protest – against the old guard of politicians, many still cling to the old Communist ways. There have been some resignations, but not enough and no promise of change.

    The Collectiv nightclub was unsafe by anyone’s standards, like many clubs, restaurants and offices in Romania, safety of the people is costly and a bribe to avoid the regulations is cheaper.

    • …safety of the people is costly and a bribe to avoid the regulations is cheaper

      It is shameful such a tragedy has to happen before more ‘discussions’, of safety, can take place. Of course nothing will be safer. As you point out bribery is cheaper.

      The GOP seem to be heading the less regulation way. Be damned the citizens.
      I fear for the USA if a Repugnant becomes POTUS.

      • If the GOP as it currently exists should manage to grab full power of the state — esp. with one of the clown car zeroes as POTUS — my prediction is that the Great American Experiment with a Democratic Republic is over, and will have been replaced by the current manifestation of Fascism. I, for one, do not want to stick around and bear witness to the consequences of that impending horror show.

      • Well look at the coal mining disasters in WV and how long it takes to bring the perps to justice, it’s already this way here.

    • Definitely smaller protest – maybe 15,000. Focus was on what should happen in the size of government – apparently reducing the number of representatives was a demand… seems very specific, but I suspect that the feeling is there are too many and too many old guard post-Communists who are happy to grift.

      Anyhow the more progressive President is due to meet a representative sample of the crowd tomorrow….

      Elections not due until end of 2016 – thought is that a more centrist coalition will be installed with a technocrat PM to make some moves to beef up anti-corruption efforts and adherence to building and fire code law.

    • I’ve long felt that Nature and ‘free market capitalism’ are incompatible. Not because of Nature, but because F.M.C. values nothing other than money/profit, thereby authorizing unlimited attacks on Nature with the sole interest of money/profit gain, etc. Public Lands are, in reality, the best way to thwart the FMC intrusions, which is why Libertarians and their FMC ilk hate the concept of Public Lands. Nature does have one really bit trick up her sleeve, though. If FMC-ists manage to carry their greed to its logical conclusion, Nature can and will act to extinct the lot of them. And that will be a good thing in the long run, given that it’ll allow evolution another shot at “intelligent” life. Maybe next time they’ll get it right.

    • Thanks Wayne. I took a peek at the site, noticed the post there. Too bad it landed there before I noticed and corrected the brain fart “2014” date in the title line! Oh well, I’ll just knock a few bucks off the bill. 🙂

  5. Thank you for taking us on tour of your gorgeous part of the world! They are places I will never be able to visit.

    I do wish Teddy Roosevelt would make an appearance and lecture the dodos on why we have Federal land…to keep it from the greedy bastards!

    • Glad you enjoyed the scenics. I assume you noticed that they’re all completely devoid of any obvious human participation or presence!

      As for Teddy, I seriously doubt there’s a Republican alive today who has the mental ability to grasp the rewards of Teddy’s vision. Not sure why I even use the word “mental” in their context, actually.

  6. There’s no climate change. What’s a few degrees between oceans?

    Recreational Dungeness crab season postponed indefinitely

    The California Fish and Game Commission voted during an emergency meeting Thursday to suspend the recreational Dungeness crab fishing season off the coast of San Francisco until further notice.
    A deadly neurotoxin has been detected in the meaty delicacies that crawl on the ocean floor. The poison, known as demoic acid, is produced by algal blooms linked to this year’s record Pacific Ocean temperatures.

  7. Bibliophilia ‏@Libroantiguo 50m50 minutes ago
    “I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of Leaves of Grass…”
    Ralph Waldo Emerson to Walt Whitman, 1855

  8. Great post frugal.
    And today, I just got effing outraged by this story.
    Congressional Energy Chairs Form Fundraising Committee, Rake In Oil, Gas Cash As They Push Bills For Fossil Fuel Industry

    Is this not even thinly disguised bribery?
    How did this nation devolve into such a blatant corporocracy?
    Quoting Thomas Jefferson:
    “I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”
    and James Madison in the course of argument
    in Congress on February 8, 1791
    in which he mustered his reasons for
    opposing Alexander Hamilton’s proposal to charter a Bank of the United States.

    Madison began by stressing that corporations, unlike natural persons, had only the exact measure of rights that was conferred upon them by the state in express terms –in other words, they did not have “inalienable rights” which arose under natural law, like the “people of the United States” invoked at the outset of the Constitution. Moreover, Madison soon made clear that he thought corporations were “powerful machines” that might well do a great deal of mischief if left unguarded.

    • Thanks RUC.

      As for our corporate bureaucracy, just remember this: “Corporations are people, my friend.” Mitt obviously knew more than Jefferson and Madison combined!

      Also, remember to thank the Republican appointees to the SCOTUS for Citizens United. Also Reagan for initiating the take down of the country’s entire education system, K-college. To do so was mandatory in order to grow the number of Republican voters.

  9. Here’s more Uncle Benny NutSpeakery
    Ben Carson: Humans walked on the moon because America was founded on God
    Unka Benny, your premise that
    “…within 200 years of the advent of this nation, which believed in God, men were walking on the moon. Completely revolutionized and changed the world because a nation was willing to acknowledge God.”
    Is utter bullshit. While many of the founding fathers were Deists, the immigration to this continent was largely driven by folks fleeing religious tyranny in their homelands.
    Find me one place in the Constitution where God is mentioned as a source of governmental power or role. …**crickets**
    Keep on babbling Unka Benny. Your WTF just keeps multiplying exponentially.

    • Dude’s a grifter …. this election’s Tina Fey impersonator … once the book tour is done …. he’ll go on reality TV.

    • Is that crackpot theory even a story in the Bible – “And verily Joseph did build some massive pyramids of stone and said ‘Stuff your grain in here, mates'”?

      Poindexter doesn’t even know his own Bible I don’t think, when he says “Its in the Bible” – he’s even more full of shit.

      • It’s similar to the way they interpret the Constitution. They just claim it says whatever they want it to say and assume that no one silly enough to care what they say will check their facts.

  10. Funny shit going down on the #millionmaskmarch tag …. November 5th has become a day for anti-capitalist protests….. this tweet set me off 🙂

  11. Chris Christie will be at the kids table debate at the next GOP clownfest. He will be joined by Huckabee, Santorum, and Jindal. Lindsey Graham and George Pataki have been excluded entirely, even from the kids table.

    • Texas just keeps proving how idiotic most of their citizens are.
      Scared of their own shadows.
      Unfortunately those who should read Seth won’t.

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