If there's one thing our troubled nation needs more than ever, it's a newspaper editorialist who's willing to take a principled stand for human needs.
And I'm not talking about clean air and water, or food, or education, or affordable healthcare, or the right to marry the person you love. I'm talking about real human needs, like building parking lots, sneering at science, conflating vulgar-libertarian claptrap with the Word of God, elevating willfully ignorant contempt for nature to a moral imperative, and turning environmental management decisions over to the extraction industries.
The first thing you need to understand is that things you've never heard of don't matter.
Ever hear of the Yellowstone sand verbena? Probably not, since the only place this plant is currently known to grow in North America is a beach in the Wyoming national park bearing that name.Know how you can tell valuable things from worthless things? Valuable things become more valuable as they become more scarce.
Consider this: If Yellowstone sand verbena were of any use to anybody, people would be growing it on purpose and selling it. Since they're not, it's pretty clear that it does not meet human needs, and probably never will. (Unless it turns out to cure some disease or something, but what are the odds of that?)
And no, the desire to look at Yellowstone sand verbana doesn't count as a human need. On the contrary, it's an affectation. And not the good kind, like smoking a cigar while wearing a bowtie.
How about the meltwater lednian stonefly that is only found in Glacier National Park in Montana? That one will be gone by 2030, thanks to global warming — assuming global warming is a reality, as claimed by some scientists. Or, it may be frozen by the new little ice age predicted by other scientists.If these educated fools had the sense to cast aside their astrolabes and alembics, and consider the world in the hard astringent light of Oeconomics, they'd know that both of these outcomes are a) impossible (or at least unlikely); and b) inconsequential.
People are fretting over bugs and weeds that can only be found in Montana's national parks. The conclusion is inescapable:
[S]uch policies will “essentially sequester large swaths of private property from all use for years.”Which would be bad enough. But the more serious problem is that they are guided by "a fundamentally unbalanced view of the proper relationship between man and nature." These policies emanate from some topsy-turvy dreamworld in which human avarice is constrained by intangibles like humility, and science, and law, and...and a sense of personal responsibility, instead of being allowed to trample everything in its path.
And for what? Here's a perfect example of how we're coddling these dime-a-dozen parasites, instead of forcing 'em to shift for themselves as God intended.
Last summer, Bureau of Land Management officials lifted environmental restrictions designed to protect one variety of sage grouse — aka “prairie chickens” — from seeing or hearing oil or natural gas wells. But, as The Examiner then predicted, environmentalists have since sued, seeking federal court orders directing reclassification of other prairie chicken varieties as endangered species."Sage grouse," indeed. This reminds me of the ginned-up controversy surrounding the "marbled murrelet," which despite its five-dollar name is basically nothing more than a common seagull.
Besides, if I have to hear a garbage truck every week at 6 AM, why the hell shouldn't a chicken have to hear the occasional oil well? If they don't like it, let them roost behind the moon, as the old song says.
Though these objections to conservation are unanswerable, they may seem somewhat abstract to people who are busy working, and shopping, and watching TV, and disrupting town-hall healthcare meetings in order to protect Granny and Grampy from liberal-fascist Selektion.
How will protecting useless, redundant species ruin your life, you ask? Get a load of this:
Environmental law that puts more emphasis on forever preserving the current condition of nature also shortchanges America’s ability to provide housing for a growing population. As Hewitt explains, “The proposed Clean Water Restoration Act would vastly expand federal control with private property and greatly complicate and increase the cost of bringing new homes to the market.”It's infuriating, isn't it? The nation could be in the midst of a well-nigh unstoppable housing boom at this very moment, if it weren't for the sage grouse's interference with oil and gas leasing, and the little-known weeds and bugs that are cluttering up Montana's national parks.
Since housing is a key engine of employment and economic growth, hobbling this essential industry doesn’t just deny people shelter, it also prevents the creation of millions of needed new jobs.
These are just some of the reasons America needs a new national discussion of which is more important, the needs of the sage grouse or those of the people with whom such creatures share the natural world.Sounds reasonable to me. Strictly in the interests of balance, and fairness, and equity, and impartiality, and stuff like that, I say the decision should be made by people who stand to benefit financially from throwing ESA protections out the window.
Because the plain fact is, we've been ruled by the sage grouse for far too long. It's time we cast its hateful yoke from our shoulders, and started the great work of catering to human needs. As Frederick Douglass said, in a remarkably similar situation, "There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven who does not know that slavery is wrong for him."
(Photo by Jeff Brouws.)