Human Carrying Capacity – Fanciful Fiction or Deadly Reality

One of the first courses I took in college toward my degree in wildlife management was a Isle Royal Moosepopulation dynamics class.  And one of the first readings was the classic story of the boom-bust population cycles of the moose and wolf of Isle Royale Michigan, where, prior to the wolf as a keystone predator, the island’s moose herd would overpopulate and overgraze, resulting in starvation and mass die-offs.  When the wolves were eventually introduced the belief was that the keystone predator would help stabilize the moose population.  But the history of Isle Royale moose and wolf populations have been wildly unpredictable, affected not only by availability of food, but by disease, tick outbreaks, wolf0422severe winters, and immigrant wolves.  Every five years has brought unpredictable fluctuations in both populations, and every five years has been different from all other five-year periods.  Even in the 1980s when my classmates and I were closely following this study, it was believed that the populations would reach equilibrium.  But that never happened.  Continue reading

The Decline of GOP Environmentalism or Decline of Environmentalism Itself

Paul Sabin has an article in this weekend’s Boston Globe titled “The Decline of Republican Environmentalism.” Sabin, a professor of history at Yale and author of “The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon, and Our Gamble Over Earth’s Future,” makes a compelling case for the country’s current deadlock on forging solutions to important environmental matters, including climate change.  However, I think the article could aptly have been titled the “Decline of Environmentalism” or “The Failed Gamble of Environmentalism,” rather than painting the GOP into a corner.  According to Sabin,

Twenty-five years ago tomorrow, from the sunny decks of an excursion boat touring Boston Harbor, George H.W. Bush, then the Republican candidate for president, launched a fierce attack on Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, the Democratic nominee. Bush said that Boston’s polluted waters — “the dirtiest harbor” in America — symbolized Dukakis’s failed leadership. He “will say that he will do for America what he’s done for Massachusetts,” Bush declared. “That’s why I fear for the country.” By delaying a major cleanup of the harbor, Bush said, Dukakis had cost taxpayers billions of dollars and allowed the pollution to continue, making “the most expensive public policy mistake in the history of New England.”

Bush’s attack on Dukakis stands out as perhaps the last time a prominent national Republican turned an environmental cause into a weapon against a Democratic opponent. And in that 25-year gap lies a lost path and a giant missed opportunity. Republicans no longer seriously contest the environmental vote; instead, they have run from it. Largely as a result, national environmental policy-making has become one-sided, polarized, and stuck. Republican politicians mostly deny the threat of climate disruption and block legislative solutions, while President Obama tries to go it alone with a shaky patchwork of executive actions. A middle ground on environmental policy remains a mirage. Continue reading

Real Christians Don’t Believe in Climate Change – Really??

During my commute into DC yesterday for a lunch meeting, I had my radio tuned to Rush Limbaugh when he swerved into the topic of climate change.  He was talking about recent comments made by Secretary Kerry wherein Kerry made reference to climate change as “a challenge to our responsibilities as the guardians–safe guarders of God’s creation.”  Well Rush took issue with Kerry’s comment, but particularly Kerry’s inconsistent treatment and views of the unborn as part of God’s creation.  Here is a snippet of the monologue:

You must be either agnostic or atheistic to believe that man controls something that he can’t create.  The vanity!  These people — on the one hand, we’re no different than a mouse or a rat.  If you listen to the animal rights activists, we are the pollutants of this planet. If it weren’t for humanity — the military environmentalist wackos — the Earth would be pristine and wonderful and beautiful, and nobody would see it.  According to them we are not as entitled to life on this planet as other creatures because we destroy it. But how can we destroy it when we’re no different from the lowest life forms?”

And then on the other end, we are so powerful.  And we are so impotent — omnipotent that we can destroy — we can’t even stop a rain shower, but we can destroy the climate.  And how? With barbecue pits and automobiles, particularly SUVs. It’s absurd. Continue reading

China – A Growing Threat to the Earth

Listened to a sobering interview yesterday on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show, with Craig Simons, author of the new book, The Devouring Dragon, which chronicles imagesCACN1XEPChina’s insatiable appetite for natural resources – an emerging global threat to biodiversity and water and air pollution.  This story should make us all take pause.

China’s rise is assaulting the natural world at an alarming rate. In a few short years, China has become the planet’s largest market for endangered wildlife, its top importer of tropical trees, and its biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Its rapid economic growth has driven up the world’s very metabolism: in Brazil, farmers clear large swaths of the Amazon to plant soybeans; Indian poachers hunt tigers and elephants to feed Chinese demand; in the United States, clouds of mercury and ozone drift earthward after trans-Pacific jet-stream journeys. Craig Simons’ The Devouring Dragon looks at how an ascending China has rapidly surpassed the U.S. and Europe as the planet’s worst-polluting superpower. It argues that China’s most important 21st-century legacy will be determined not by jobs, corporate profits, or political alliances, but by how quickly its growth degrades the global environment and whether it can stem the damage. Combining in-depth reporting with wide-ranging interviews and scientific research, The Devouring Dragon shines a spotlight on how China has put our planet’s forests, wildlife, oceans, and climate in jeopardy, multiplying the risks for everyone in our burgeoning, increasingly busy world. Continue reading

An Intriguing But Not-So-Bizarre Tale Involving EPA

A couple of months back I posted about a promising geoengineering development here, Save the Planet – plant a tree or feed a krill, that in my view represents a major imagesCAAUKO6Qmilestone in our efforts at climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. (Just so happens it’s among the top read posts on this blog)  The actual story reads much like a Grisham novel filled with mystery and intrigue and shadowy characters operating on society’s fringes.  The main character in the plot, Russ George, a very smart, enterprising entrepreneur, with an obvious respect and love for the environment and penchant for solving big problems, has been much maligned by the establishment and liberal media for his futuristic experiment involving ocean fertilizing.  Over on his blog, Mr. George recounts a “bizarre” story of recently being contacted by someone at the U.S. EPA, at the request of the Canadian Government, to find out what the heck he is up to. Continue reading

Do We Really Need a New Shade of Green Environmentalism?

Okay . . . I begin with an apology for the title of this post, but no other title quite captures the gist of the story.  Even for someone like me who has spent his entire adult life immersed in environmental issues, it’s hard for me to keep up with the Green vernacular.  I don’t know what it is with you Greens (you have pale greens, lite greens, dark greens, bright greens, red-greens, radical red-greens, blue-greens, red-green-brown greens, veridian greens, puke greens – p.s. I made that last one up), but that term and its many derivations as used to describe one’s greenitude or fealty to some green alliance has gotten awfully confusing. Continue reading

The GOP’s Environmental Challenge

Can one be a social conservative or member of the GOP and be an environmentalist?  Although I’ve long argued what I believe to be the fundamental distinction between being an environmentalist and a conservationist – and perhaps that’s arguing the number of angelic beings dancing on the head of a pin – the obvious answer to the above question is a resounding yes.  To me, it’s a rather silly question, but it’s one with legs.  As with other social and cultural issues, the GOP’s environmental positioning has long been on the losing side of public sentiment, rhetoric and imagery. Continue reading