Eighty-Six Members Of Congress Can’t Read

I DON’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP — I COULDN’T

I’m constantly hearing and bombardier-air-quality-test.jpgreading about how the “SCIENCE” tells us that snowcoaches are better for Yellowstone National Park than are snowmobiles. First off, “SCIENCE” tells us nothing about good and bad, or better and worse. Secondly, summer pollution in Yellowstone is higher than winter pollution. Thirdly, dirty old Bombardier snowcoaches produce more pollution than clean new 4-stroke snowmobiles

If “SCIENCE” tells us anything, it is the following: 1] people don’t care about the stink of summer, 2] people would rather pollute in winter with nostalgic obsolescence than have clean transportation, 3] 86 members of congress haven’t looked at the data.

You do know, don’t you, that we have decided that it’s pollution from vehicular emissions that are harmful to the park. It’s not the type of machine that counts, it how dirty or clean it is!

An Associated Press Article tells us that New Jersey Rep. Rush Holt is leading another congressional charge to rid Yellowstone of snowmobiles. I suggest that he and his 85 other ill-informed colleagues read the:

FINAL
AIR QUALITY MODELING REPORT
SNOWMOBILE AND SNOWCOACH EMISSIONS
WINTER USE PLAN
Environmental Impact Statement
YELLOWSTONE and GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARKS and the
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER, JR., MEMORIAL PARKWAY

In case he can’t read, I’ve reproduced two summary tables for him to review. There is nothing about good or bad, better or worse in the tables, but there is something about how the snowcoaches pollute and how the snowmobiles pollute. I just hope that he can count.

SNOWMOBILE TABLE

snmbl.jpg

 

SNOWCOACH TABLE

snch.jpg

The bottom right cell in each table is the telling comment, if any, from “SCIENCE.”

If Mr. Holt wants a simple version he, (or one of his junior staff,) can go to the NPS Nature & Science site and see how the current growing fleet of diesel buses are about to increase pollution. Below is an interesting table from that report if he can’t find the appropriate button on his mouse.

snch-00.jpg

I realize that appealing to members of congress will get me nowhere. However I can appeal to the people who really care about Yellowstone National Park — PLEASE ELECT CONGRESSIONAL RPRESENTATIVES THAT CAN AND WILL READ.

nono.jpgworse-than-snowmobile.jpgThere are better ways to visit Yellowstone in winter than in obsolete, noisy, gas guzzling, polluting, Bombardier snowcoaches. There are better ways to visit Yellowstone in winter than in a fleet of diesel buses that are converted for over-the-snow travel. There are better ways to treat our national parks in both summer and winter. Just think about it.

Buy A Blogger

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PERQUISITES

bribe-000.jpgDid you ever wonder if what you read is all true, partly true, sort of true, not true, or bought and paid for? Some blogs are egocentric, some blatantly commercial, and some masquerade as news but are really just P.R. They are bought and paid for by commercial interests and the praise that they get in return.

Tour companies, travel agents, journalists, and others with an audience all are in a position to trade favors with interested parties – it may be tit for tat, or advertising, or just plain scam. But believe me it goes on and is not reported to the client, reader, patron, or believing citizen.

One classic example from our little town should serve as an example of how this works. The West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce recently had an article in the local “newspaper” and begged for money to bribe “independent voices” “to get the word out.”

This quote should give you some idea of the perquisites that are given to these “independent voices:”

“There are some days at the Chamber of Commerce where we seem to spend a majority of the day on our knees begging for donations in order to assist travel writers, major media and tour operators. Donations of rooms, meals, tours, food, gift items, bags and bows, even bottles of water make a huge difference in our ability to have these folks come to West Yellowstone-they are independent voices for us to “get the word out” about what a great destination we are.

 

In a small community like West Yellowstone, our Chamber Marketing budget is small and already allocated. So, when unexpected groups of tour operators, magazine or newspaper writers, photographers, web travel writers, radio talk show hosts, or television producers call and ask for help in setting up their trips. In turn, in order to take advantage of these opportunities for West Yellowstone, we have to reach out to you, our community.”

The list of “Independent Voices” is extensive:

 

  • Kurt Repanshek, Travel Arts syndicated writer writing about West Yellowstone as the “best gateway to Yellowstone.”
  • David Sason writing an article on Montana meeting sites with a focus on West Yellowstone.
  • Utah freelance writers working on a November/December article for Salt Lake Magazine about winter vacations in West Yellowstone.
  • Carol Calicchio with JohnnyJet.com, the most popular travel planning website in California.
  • Steve Cannon with KIDK-Channel 3 exploring the Painted Buffalo Project.
  • Sam Dalton with Boomeradventures.com who will be creating a web page about winter activities for boomer travelers.
  • Steve Pastorino with Fodor’s Travel Guide.
  • Eric Peterson with Frommer’s Montana and Wyoming Guidebook.
  • Eric and Sue Hansen, representing Oregon-based newspapers and Northwest Travel magazine, writing about birding and our birding trails.
  • Salt Lake City-based Western Leisure with a Chinese FAM tour including eight tour operators from the largest tour companies in mainland China.
  • Terry Mansfield with majesticradiotours.com who is creating a web site with downloadable radio spots about West Yellowstone.
  • A German journalist & a photographer representing Markische Allgemeine Zeitung, a large daily German newspaper.

Now then, with all this mutual back-scratching going on I wonder if what I read in, and hear from these commercial blogs, travel guides, TV stations, travel magazines, and tours is a product of journalism or just plain hype?

In the interest of full and honest disclosure, I have not received a bottle of water, free room, complimentary bicycle, free meal, discounted film, complimentary Internet connection, or any bribe or other compensation from the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce. Would that the entities above would disclose how much baksheesh they received.

At least I know that my site visitors are smart enough to take with a grain of salt anything that they read in a travel magazine or commercial blog.

It Was Grant – Dufus!

GOOD REVIEW RUINED BY MISTAKEtroosevelt2-hunting-buddies.jpg

Why does GADLING think that Teddy did it? In a very positive review of the ‘new’ National Parks Traveler, (which is well worth a visit,) Erik Olsen says:

We should all thank Teddy Roosevelt for having the foresight all those years ago to set off Yellowstone as a place that would be protected from development and where all Americans (and others) would be welcome3 to enjoy.

usgrant.gifWell, girlfriend, you can thank Teddy for going to Yellowstone after it was created by congress and signed into law by Ulysses S. Grant, if you want to.

Teddy went to the park to shoot game, catch and eat fish, enjoy the company of his elite buddies, and coincidentally got roped into laying the cornerstone of an entry arch that he probably knew nothing about.

I don’t intend to add to the myths about Teddy. But I would like to say that it’s important to keep your history straight when talking about the “crown jewels of our national heritage.”

After all, Mr. Olsen worked for the Department of the Interior, and should know his history. Especially about the establishment of our National Parks. I guess it’s excusable; certainly “Teddy did it all” – in legend if not fact.

==============

griles.jpgSpeaking of the Department of the Interior: former Deputy Interior Secretary Steven Griles had his plea sentence doubled to 10 months by the judge when he continued his arrogant ways in court. You can read about the interaction in the courtroom HERE. I’m pleased to see that my advice was heeded.

Now we’ll see if he serves the time or gets to play footsie with his buddies in the recreation industry. I’m not usually interested in these kinds of political shenanigans, but in this case it’s somehow interesting.

============

iphoney.jpgI’m not going to get an iPhone. As cute as it is, and as useful as it may be, it’s just not worth $6,000 for a two year contract. Maybe you can afford the price tag, but that $6,000 will buy a lot of good Cabernet, a trip to Goleta, some new flies, and a new benchrest rifle – with some left over!

Wired has posted a spreadsheet about the costs associated with the new gadget. You can read all about it HERE and at the Apple site, HERE.

Tag You’re It

THINKING BLOGGERS

Here are my picks for the Thinking Blogger Award:

  1. Jim Macdonald: Compiles the Yellowstone Newspaper, blogs about Yellowstone in The Magic of Yellowstone, discusses philosophical underpinnings of anti-authoritarianism and how it relates to park administration, and maintains a discussion forum – among other wonders of the blogsphere.
  2. Small Dead Animals: insights from Canada, pertinent to all of us.
  3. verbena-19: another bucketful of insight from Canada, social justice, environment, civil liberties, environmental awareness – great stuff – [old site, new site.]
  4. Wild Wilderness Blog: well researched perspectives about the threats to our public lands and the ever present push to make a buck.
  5. CUSS: irreverent, tawdry, base, uncouth, true, real, and what all of us are really thinking – but not saying!

Well, that’s it. There are certainly others worthy of the tag, but these are the guys that I read and these are the ones that make me think. Visit them and let me know. Comments are always open.
The rules are: Congratulations, you won a

Should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging.The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme

3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).

The Sacred Cows Of Yellowstone

THOU SHALT NOT SPEAK EVIL OF THESE

sacredcow.gifI have a bit of pity & some sympathy for the poor journalists in this part of the country. I just plain pity the journalists in the rest of the country.

When it comes to reporting about Yellowstone National Park they have a long list of topics that they cannot report about. They have, after all, advertising and public sentiment to deal with. The scribes, either through fear or ignorance refuse to address the problems caused by the Sacred Cows of Yellowstone.

Reporting about Yellowstone is also fraught with pitfalls propagated by the NPS. The NPS has fostered a picture of perfection to be projected about the park – after all, it’s their job as chief cheerleader. But a few honest remarks about the problems in Yellowstone would go a long way toward correcting them. Horror of horrors – tell the truth.

yellowstone-hack.gifCurrently it’s the Sacred Bison that these sages of the press are skating around. They have not addressed the bison policy, overpopulation, or the destruction that the bison do to the Yellowstone prairies or the environment in general.

Worry not about the poor little babies. Worry about Yellowstone National Park. Reduce the herd to a size that is in keeping with honest preservation of the environment and the ecology of Yellowstone.

However, you can bet that many local reporters will continue to use unprofessional inflammatory language when protecting this sacred cow – it generates readership and advertising. After all, Shakespeare played to the crowd, [For some sane and non-inflammatory reporting read Glenn Hockett.]

The SACRED ELK is another scourge of the Yellowstone incubation mentality. They are raised on invasive grasses in Mammoth. They are so habituated that they lounge on the lawns and the old parade grounds. The park administration does not ticket visitors, (see Sacred Rules and Sacred Rangers below,) nor do they consider the plight of these critters that are rapidly losing their wild nature. (See 2004 video of elk charging and goring visitor.)

Another is the SACRED DIESEL TOUR BUS; a conveyance that does nothing to enhance the visitor experience that the NPS is always talking about. It slows traffic, crowds roads, blocks vistas, and spews carcinogens and other pollution into the atmosphere of the park. It is far worse for Yellowstone and its visitors than a few snowmobiles. This sacred cow should never be attacked because it generates enormous amounts of revenue and concurrently herds humans into manageable groups.

Too, the SACRED MOTOR HOME; with four wealthy humans taking up the space that 40 less affluent humans use in the tour bus. These $200,000 – or much more behemoths, are usually pulling a $50,000 Hummer [or some such.] This travesty of the roadway has double immunity because it is also the preferred mode of transportation for the seasonal help that Xanterra & Delaware North hire. These monsters are also allowed preferred parking in the park campgrounds, denying visitors space. Mention it not!

Then, the SACRED EMPLOYEE PUB, is verboten. This is akin to the military providing slot machines to the troops and fostering gambling addictions. Could this be happening with alcohol in Yellowstone? Heaven forbid. Don’t let the public know about this.

And mention not the SACRED GEYSER GAZERS that are allowed special access to off-trail areas and thermal features. Sign up and you too can leave your footprints and ball caps in the mud.

off-trail.jpgDon’t dare to explore the activities of the SACRED SKIERS. These bota-totin’, off-trail-shoutin’, skinny-dipping denizens that supposedly are much nicer to the park than the average winter visitor are the darlings of journalists and bloggers alike. Gimme a break. illegal.jpgThe SACRED BICYCLISTS are also saints and never go off trail or stress the fauna by getting too close. Both of these groups of saints are protected by the Sacred Rules and Sacred Rangers, (see below.) Fear the wrath of ‘greenies’ if you tell the truth about either of these two cows.

By no means investigate the SACRED RULES that allow visitors to move closer to bison and elk than to bears; despite the fact that more visitors [in their stupidity] are harmed by bison and elk than bears. And certainly don’t mention the SACRED RANGERS that refuse, (by order,) to issue tickets for these infractions against the bison and the elk. This is law enforcement tempered by the almighty tourist dollar.

nono.jpgThe SACRED BOMBARDIER is a genuine offense to reason, environmental sanity, fiscal responsibility, and public safety. Don’t honestly report on these cows of the winter landscape – you’ll incur the wrath of moneyed visitor interests and motorized recreationists across the country.

The most egregious sin of the Yellowstone Hacks is their failure to recognize the travesty of the SACRED FLY FISHERMAN. These ‘sportsmen’ are backed by both park personnel and the giant fly fishing industry. The park has rules to enable the destruction of streams in order to placate this cow. The ‘incubator mentality’ is best viewed in the realm of fishing and the stocking history of the NPS. It’s time to fix this!

Without the SACRED FLY FISHERMAN, and his commercial lobby, the New Zealand Mud Snail would not be in Yellowstone. Without the SACRED FLY FISHERMAN the previously pristine Firehole River would be allowed to produce its native mayflies, stone flies, midges, and caddis flies in a natural fashion; without the depredation of non-native species. But these creatures have no cheerleaders, (nor does Yellowstone’s ecology.) So, the fly fisherman is allowed to keep his invasive trout, introduced from afar. Enhance the visitor experience at the expense of the native species.

brad-baby.jpgThe Yellowstone fishing regulations encourage; nay, facilitate destruction of park resources by mandating “torture and release” of invasive species. This is blatant disregard for the intent of preservation of the park resources. But, without the SACRED FLY FISHERMAN many dollars would be lost by the preservation and restoration of a once beautiful stream. Hacks don’t dare address this – they fish. And so does Brad Pitt – bring on the rationalizations for avoiding this topic.

There are many others of course. But there is far too little jaundice in the eyes of the regional hacks. They too have bought into the Picture-Perfect-Yellowstone myth. Conventional wisdom always wins – no matter how wrong – just look at the political and environmental mess our parks are in.

Other Sacred Cows that are running rampant in Yellowstone include: the SACRED TOUR GUIDE, the SACRED PARKING VIOLATOR, the SACRED SEASONAL RANGER, the SACRED WOMAN SUPERINTENDENT, the SACRED BUILDING CLUTTER, the SACRED SLUMS OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, the SACRED BUILDING BOOM AND THE ATTENDANT WASTE DISPOSAL PROBLEMS INCLUDING SEWAGE, and many, many, more.

Just what has happened to investigative journalism in our National Parks? Or do the American Public not want to know? This is worse than Fantasy Land.

Bombardier Gas Caps, (and other junk.)

JUST BAN THE BOMB

nono.jpgA trivia question: “On what day in May, 2007 did the largest private bombardier fleet owner sell the business, & why?”

Answer: “Exact date unknown, meeting continuing emissions and noise standards is impossible.”

The NPS released their ‘Proposed Rule to Implement Yellowstone and Grand Teton Winter Use Plan,’ last Friday.

I’ve read the proposed rule and it’s full of escape hatches for the Yellowstone Park Bombardier fleet. There are, however three problems with the ‘Bombs’ that can not be avoided. 1] “Beginning in the 2011-2012 season, all snowcoaches must meet air emission requirements, which will be the functional equivalent of having EPA Tier I emissions control equipment incorporated into the engine and drive train for the vehicle class (size and weight) as a wheeled vehicle.” This means that a Bombardier Snow Bus will have to be as clean as a bombardier-air-quality-test.jpgToyota mini-bus. FAT CHANCE, that’s why they are waiting until 2011! And, by then, they hope you hate snowmobiles to the point that you allow worse pollution from the Yellow tanks. 2] “In addition, all critical emission and sound-related exhaust components that were originally installed by the manufacturer must be in place and functioning properly. Malfunctioning components must be replaced with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) components where possible. If OEM parts are not available, aftermarket parts may be used if they are certified not to worsen emission and sound characteristics from OEM levels. In general, catalysts that have exceeded their typical useful life as stated by the manufacturer must be replaced unless the operator can demonstrate the catalyst is functioning properly.” Bombardier Snow Buses had no emissions control equipment when built. Conversion to contemporary automotive engines places a burden on the emission control system that wears out catalytic converters and mufflers at a rapid rate.The engines must run at twice design speed/mph. Costs to maintain Tier I compliance levels will be enormous and will be passed on to the consumer. Why does the park insist on this expense? 3] “Beginning in the 2011-2012 season, snowcoaches must meet a sound emissions requirement of no greater than 73dBA; test procedures to be determined by the NPS.” The design of the Bombardier Snow Bus track system is inherently noisy. The coachwork is a giant tympanic membrane, the hollow tires resonate with each bump in the road, the springs in the bogie cans are 1930’s tank technology and are uninsulated and rattle, the chains that hold the bogie cans clank unmercifully. Slop, slap, and rattle are built into the system in order to have any suspension at all. The combination of these factors mitigate against a quiet machine. Making these machines quiet would also cost extreme amounts of money. You can bet that it can’t be done in a cost effective manner. You can also bet that the NPS will devise a way to design test procedures that allow the obsolete machines to keep running – damn the spirit of the rule, it’s nostalgia that wins and the public & the park loses.

The big caveat for the Yellowstone fleet is couched in noble sounding phraseology that talks about the NPS Organic Act (16 U.S.C. 1). “The restrictions on air and sound emissions proposed in this rule are not a restriction on what manufacturers may produce but an end-use restriction on which commercially produced snowmobiles and snowcoaches may be used in the parks. . . .This exercise of the NPS Organic Act authority is not an effort by NPS to regulate manufacturers and is consistent with Sec. 310 of the Clean Air Act.” The cute part of this phraseology is including the phrase “commercially produced” – take it out and the spirit of the rule is the same. In fact why must there be any kind of distinction? If it meets standards then it should be allowed- right? Well, girlfriend, by adding the spurious phrase it opens the door for a “Significantly Modified” phrase to be inserted later in the rule-making-process. Then the ‘significantly modified’ snow coaches don’t have to meet standards because they are not ‘commercially produced.’ Just why does the NPS have to resort to this sort of chicanery? Because it’s in their green blood, and the green blood of their pet concessionaires.

Oh, what about those gas caps? The fuel containment system of Bombardier Snow Buses consists of one or two large sheet metal containers with neither crash proofing nor recirculating venting. Venting is through the gas cap – not Tier I complaint.

Vapor recirculation must include the fuel tanks to be complaint – this too, is a cost to be passed on to the consumer. The NPS and the snowmobile hater don’t really care about the park and emissions standards. Rather they care about a nostalgic ride in a loud and stinky tank. They would rather have a nostalgic ride in the park subsidized by the American Taxpayer, than have the park protected – shame on them.

=========

abaski-segway-skyblu.jpgAn interesting aside in the proposed rule is the continued social class distinctions propagated by the NPS.

Somehow they believe that skiers are a higher class of people than people who ride snowmobiles. Somehow the snobs in the planning office have forgotten the Constitution of the United States of America. Somehow the cheerleaders have convinced the NPS that skiers are saints and have never broken the law, and never molested wildlife, and never damaged the environment. And of course they know park rules ski-buffalo.jpgbetter than the dummies on the sleds.

They never go to off-trail thermal areas, they never ‘soap a geyser’ to get it to erupt, and they never go skinny dipping in hot springs, and of course they would never traipse across bacterial mats – now would they? This must be true, otherwise why is the following section in the proposed rule?

“This guiding requirement will reduce conflicts with wildlife along roadways because guides are trained to lead visitors safely around the park with minimal disturbance to wildlife. Commercially guided parties also tend to be larger in size, which reduces the overall number of encounters with wildlife and reduces the amount of time over-snow vehicles are audible. Commercial guides are educated in safety and are knowledgeable about park rules. . . . Commercial guides use a “follow-the-leader” approach, stopping often to talk with the group. They lead snowmobiles single-file through the park, using hand signals to pass information down the line from one snowmobile to the next, which has proven to be effective. Signals are used to warn group members about wildlife and other road hazards, indicate turns, and when to turn on or off the snowmobile. Further, all commercial guides are trained in basic first aid and CPR. In addition to first aid kits, they often carry satellite or cellular telephones, radios, and other equipment for emergency use. In this way, guides will ensure that park regulations are enforced and will provide a safer experience for visitors. (Oh, by the way, stopping and starting increases pollution, so does variable speed travel, turning the machine on and off does too! What a silly rationalization these planners have used to demand that you pay guides.)

wintrcmpfire.JPGJust apply this rule to skiers and the spirit of the rule is certainly maintained – regarding winter use. And the truth of the matter is the same. Parties of skiers in two’s and three’s on trails move bison around and scare elk constantly.

They shout and holler and drink wine from their bota bags. Do they need a guide? Perhaps a single file line of 9 skiers with a guide is necessary too. They can use single finger signals, just like they do now.
skinny.jpgWho could dare protest this egalitarian application of winter use rules? Why is there no study about this? Is pollution the scary part, or is it wildlife molestation, or is it destruction of park resources? Maybe it’s just another bit of elitism designed to reduce motorized winter visitation and increase profit for the concessionaires.

Someday I hope to be rich enough that I can afford to go to Yellowstone in the winter and go skinny dipping all alone without a ranger or tour guide to spy on me. Then I too can enjoy wonderland as the Organic Act meant for me to, just like the skiing saints.

=============

illegal.jpgAnd, of course how ’bout the lack of enforcement for summer visitors that get to do everything that’s illegal. There’s seems to be a pile of preconceived elitism and prejudice running rampant in the planning department at Yellowstone National Park.

Why is this? Job security? Who holds the planners accountable? Who holds the law enforcement accountable? Why are skiers and bicyclists such models of perfect park behavior? Or are they? Where is the outcry for molesting animals in the summer? Certainly not among the diesel bus tours, nor among the $500,000 mobile condominium set. Nor is it to be found among the clean and green bicycling public – saints, everyone of ’em.

Natural Agents Of Change

WHAT WE ARE IS WHAT WE DO

The very act of living, requires life to alter it’s environment. From the byproducts of eating and breathing to the castles we live in; all require and produce change in the environment. This is the natural order of life on the planet earth. Birds do it, bees do it, trees do it, beavers do it, we do it. It’s natural.

dam-on-thorofare-creek-nps.jpgThere is nothing ‘destructive’ about our changing food into poo. There is nothing ‘destructive’ about our changing O to CO or CO2 during breathing. This is ‘natural.’ There is nothing ‘destructive’ about a beaver building a dam across Thorofare Creek in Yellowstone.

The byproducts of the dam built by beaver-trees.jpgthe beaver include dead grass, dead trees, eroded trails & runs, trapped fish, eroded stream banks, siltation of the pond, etc. This is natural and it’s what beavers do. In fact, whatever a beaver does – and whatever alteration of the environment results – is natural.

oshaughnessy-dam-hetch-hetchy.jpgThe only difference between beaver dams and human dams is one of scale. Oh, and somewhere along the way a value judgment is made. Not the value judgment of “good vs. bad,” but the value judgment about “natural vs. unnatural.” Somewhere the perception develops that some natural behaviors are “bad” and others are “good.” And, in the case of humans “Natural” vs. “Unnatural.”

The National Park Service at one time believed that wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, and other predators were bad. These “bad” elements of the ‘natural environment’ were eliminated so that the “good” elements of the ‘natural environment’ could proliferate. The consequences of this action are with us today and we deplore the “unnatural” “imbalance” that the removal of predators left behind.

world-match.jpgSomehow, removal of predators (coyotes & muggers,) from Central Park, in New York City is viewed as good and natural. These kinds of value judgments creep into our vocabulary and cloud our thinking.

From Julian Steward to Noam Chomsky there has been a thread of thought that points out how the universe is shaped by our language and it’s depictions of the “natural world.”

Depending on your theology you believe that humans are “natural” or “unnatural.” And that theology structures your vocabulary, and that vocabulary is laden with value judgments about the alterations to the environment that humans make – from breathing to dam building to global warming.

There is no behavior or byproduct that can be attributed to humans that is not found in some other living organism. There is of course the attribute of scale, and the supposed attribute of “reason & intelligence.”

In a very real sense the current state of the world is 100% natural. The anthropogenic component of global warming is as natural as the rhythmic swing of temperature & weather has been in the past.

holy-cow.jpgHumans, (of course depending on your theology,) are just a recent development in the long history of environment-altering organisms.

Humans, (depending on your theology,) are just another part of the complex equation that determines the current and future state of this little rock. And humans, (depending on your theology,) will be long gone by the time this little rock becomes part of the sun. It’s just natural, (depending on your theology.)

It’s time to deal with the semantic component of our values. Are protected wolves “natural?” Are protected grizzly bears natural? Are we going to make anything “more natural” by delisting either? Of course not. We are natural and our actions are natural and the byproducts of our actions are natural. The question is — is it good?

Because, my theology demands that I make decisions based on a value structure that sees us all as natural: and all of our actions are natural as well. We can, however, change those actions in light of our definition of good or bad. Good for what? Bad for what? If it’s good for the earth, should we eliminate humans? If it’s good for humans does that mean we have to change the earth?

What’s good for Yellowstone? What’s good for visitors? Now there’s an interesting question framed over 90 years ago with the establishment of the National Park Service. And it’s a question of values not “natural vs. unnatural.” Or, is it?

The service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purposes of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

interiorbuilding.jpgThe arguments about what is, or is not, “natural” are spurious. It’s all natural – and in a most troubling sense it’s both good and bad. That’s just the way human constructs are. Just like the roads that “impair” the “natural” scenery so that we can enjoy the “natural” scenery.

We and our roads and our dams and our CO2 are natural. We should decide what to do to make them “good.” If we can.

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