SocraticGadfly: Earth Day 50: some sobering thoughts

April 22, 2020

Earth Day 50: some sobering thoughts

50 years ago, the nation's national symbol (contra Ben Franklin plumping for the wild turkey) was facing extinction due to DDT and hunting, among other things.

115 years ago, this beauty, a snowy egret, was facing extinction due to the whims of capitalist fashion.

Both photos are from Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, which both illustrates how far American environmentalism has come and how far it has to go.

The first NWR was created 115 years ago to protect those egrets and other birds whose feathers were being used in then-popular hats. The first ranger at one refuge in south Florida was killed within a year. Another was killed a couple of years later. And it still happens.

More "bird refuges" were created by Theodore Roosevelt and other presidents. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was created to protect wildlife and run other wildlife services in 1940, out of the previous Fisheries Commission and other agencies.

Unfortunately, Hagerman NWR exemplies problems with American environmental protection. It was created after Denison Dam backed up Lake Texoma, out of government-purchased land that wasn't flooded. And, as with many refuges, the feds only bought the surface estate.

The Texoma area, especially in the 1940s, was a fairly productive oil area. One Texas tributary of the Lake is Big Mineral Creek. The wildlife refuge is dotted with dozens of pumpjacks. And, as climate change is expected to increase average rainfall in this area, that means more flooding, which means more oil at the bases of those pumpjacks gets washed into the lake, and that other areas get flooded more.

And, that's the least of recent problems of the FWS. It was a willing collaborator with former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs' fake protection of the dunes sagebrush lizard, stinking to high heaven with various types of actual corruption, and collaborating with a person who likened Endangered Species Act listings to Scud missiles. It sold out protection of Rockies wolves. It has been reluctant to do anything about Southwestern jaguars.

And, there's other problems yet. The folks who actually administer the drilling permits? The same Army Corps of Engineers that built the damned dams in the first place. Not the "greenest" of folks by any means. (Many of the national wildlife refuges these dams created were first made part of the Park Service. It eventually backed out of them. But, give the NPS something like Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, even though its act of creation clearly violates the NPS' Organic Act, and it won't say boo because of bucks. As in Glen Canyon makes a lot of them, but a no-fee NWS doesn't.) That said, this is the same NPS adding cellphone towers to parks — a process accelerating under Trump, but started under Obama.

But, this post goes beyond FWS. Or NPS.

The ultimate threat to our planet is climate change.

And, despite many Democrats, and some Greens who should definitely know better like Jill Stein, while Trump pulling out of the Paris Accords was not good, the accords themselves were and are nothing more than toothless Jell-O.

Two people made sure of that: Xi Jinping and Barack Obama.

So, if you really want to celebrate Earth Day, stop voting Democrat.

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