Friday, January 29, 2010

Our environment: Do some folks even have the slightest clue?

As mentioned in an earlier post, I am a conservationist. The dictionary defines that as "one that practices or advocates conservation, especially of natural resources." Conservation is defined as "the act of conserving; prevention of injury, decay, waste, or loss. The protection, preservation, management, or restoration of wildlife and of natural resources such as forests, soil, and water." I would add that conservation is the science that practices the wise use of natural resources. 

As a state forest fire warden, I supervise a wildland fire fighting crew and conduct fire prevention programs. I have been a wildland firefighter for well over twenty six years and I find it to be a very exciting and challenging activity. It happens to be the perfect blend of my career as a Ranger, my love of the outdoors and the satisfaction gained from participating in a heart pounding adventure.

Unfortunately however, I believe that our national forest fire suppression policies are seriously misguided. Fire is a natural occurrence and a necessary part of forest regeneration . . . however we've done such a good job in controlling wildland fires that we've painted ourselves in to a corner, much to the detriment of forest health.

Why do we have catastrophic fires every year in the western states? It's because we haven't allowed nature to do what it should do by removing the fuels by fire that have built up over the years. Those of us involved in the fire service are charged with protecting life and property. "We serve to save". A noble and worthy cause certainly, but we do so, surrounded by morons that build their million dollar palaces in densely forested locations and do nothing to fireproof their homes. They become outraged when they lose their worldly possessions due to a devastating wild fire. Most frustrating are the politicians who may be critical of tactics but cut the funding for or legislate against mitigation programs  . . . ignorant of the fact that while we may save a few homes, we've sentenced a larger area to an eventual conflagration.

Our forest fire policies are arguably the least of the problems that we have facing our environment in how we manage, use and protect our natural resources.This old earth is estimated at being ninety six billion years old. How sad is it that in less than three hundred years, modern man has been able to totally screw it up. How insane is it that in the U.S. we have elected officials, some of the most powerful people in the free world who ignore the evidence and doubt that global warming is a real threat? These same "leaders" bow to the whim of outside political influences, interested only in monetary gain, in determining what is best for our natural areas. Ironically, these geniuses, these captains of industry, seem to be completely oblivious as to the effect that their doctrines and practices have on the environment. Then again, maybe they actually do understand the negative ramifications of their policies. That would then certainly be criminal as it would serve to demonstrate that they just don't give a damn. Politicians, big business and conservative greed have resulted in policies and practices which have lead to an incredible amount of damage to our environment . . . our world.

The cost we all have to pay is high for our environmental mis-management and every citizen of this planet should be outraged at the arrogance and abject ignorance of shortsighted and greedy politicians. I was overcome with disbelief and anger when I heard a Republican governor's rebuttal of the 2010 Presidential State of the Union address, who called upon the country to use ALL of our natural resources. If I thought that he meant
use but not abuse them, I might have been more comfortable with his statement. However, his delivery of those words seemed to be almost threatening. Scary indeed. Conservatives will claim that using our vast resources is the mark of progress for a civilized, industrial society, designed to improve the quality of life. I would say that is in fact true . . . especially for the special interest groups that line their pockets and support their re-election.

Do the ends justify the means?

I think not . . .