jookitcz: (bang)
Barack, darling.  I want to love you.  But how can I, with this lurking in your political make-up?  You know there is nothing I hate more than agricultural subsidies, which have no excuse for their existence save to pander to a powerful voting bloc that hardly represents the welfare of the wider constituent population.  Will you change?  When you sit in the White House, freed from your responsibility to represent solely an agriculturally powerful state, will your priorities shift to reflect the well-being of the entire country, the world, and the rainforest?

God, I hope so.  I dearly hope that you are as ethical as your gorgeous rhetoric would indicate, and that you won't exempt agriculture from your lobbyist-celibate stance.  Hilary, too, is a proponent of these demon-subsidies.  Should I start supporting John McCain, just because the conservative folks seem to be the only ones against them, albeit for the wrong, small-government reasons? 

This is where partisan politics break down.  In a world where the same people who endorse environmental concern are skipping hand in hand with corporate agriculture so that they might appear friendly with pastoral America... there is no hope.

Grr.

Feb. 7th, 2007 05:30 pm
jookitcz: (bang)
So, grizzly bears.

This is the kind of crap that we learn in GEP.  The latest topic is the pattern of mass extinction, how the latest "Cosmic Shock" has been occuring for the last 4,000 years and species have been going extinct at 1,000 to 10,000 times the natural rate.  It's called the Pleistocene-Holocene Event.  In the last 400 years, no animal has gone extinct without human intervention.  Just as a background.

There are two major, stable populations of grizzly bears in the United States.  The larger is in Yellowstone National Park, the smaller is a state north, in Montana, in Glacier National Park.  These two are separated by the Bitterroot Mountains, which run through parts of Idaho from Wyoming to Montana.  It's where Lewis and Clark had to eat there horses.  There are no grizzlies in the Bitterroot Mountains, and also no people.  It's surrounded by national forest.  Basically, it's prime bear habitat. 

The plan was to bring in a few bears at a time from established populations in Canada, to create a new Bitterroot population.  This would create a genetic link between the Yellowstone bears and the Glacier bears, as scientists say that in a hundred years the smaller Glacier population could suffer serious damages from inbreeding.  It took six years for a plan to be negotiated between citizens, timber industries, and local governments, but in 2001 the Fish and Wildlife Service approved the plan.

Then President Bush entered office.

Said the (republican) governor of Idaho, "I oppose bringing these massive, flesh-eating carnivores into Idaho."

Said Bush's new Secretary of the Interior, "Okay."

And just like that, the plan was shuffled aside in order to assuage Republican interests.  On a related note, now that the wolf population in Idaho has reached a stable 900, it is near being taken off the endangered species list and handed over to the state government to manage.  Of course the state government of Idaho is strongly influenced by the anti-wolf sentiments of ranchers, so they forecast their "management" to include the hunting of 85% of the unlisted population.  As long as it stays above 100, it won't get relisted.

Ranchers can be reimbursed for livestock lost to wolf depredations by the Defenders of Wildlife conservation group.  And wolves manage populations of 'huntable' animals much more effectively than human hunters do, because they prey on the weak members of the population instead of those with the prize-winning antlers.

But, you know.  Who cares about the extinction of megafauna due to human stupid?  Not me, surely.
jookitcz: (typewrote)
Dreams are a lot like the livejournal draft saving function.  You have them, you do nothing and forget about them, and then later you are reminded by a little box that says "Restore from Draft?"  You click yes, intrigued to see what your brain has produced when you were not paying attention.  And you are met by a vacant text box, because you deleted it all before closing the window.

It's not that there is a wall or a barrier there.  It's that there is nothing at all.  In fact, there may never have been anything at all.  Of course in the grand scheme of things (POLS375, ECON302, and RELI205H) things that don't get written down do not actually matter.  They do not harm nor help the world.  Somewhere in the last few weeks, I've lost all of my faith in writing and words.  After all, words do not seem to heal anything when an ecosystem is lost because the company which clear cut the forest decided to replant for the sake of honor's appearance, and the result was the Hundred Acre Monoculture, which simply can't harbor anything as complex as an ecology of bears, piglets, rabbits, tiggers, and kangaroos. 

While I find Global Environment Politics incredibly fascinating, it sometimes throws me into a state of numb despair.  Guys, things are a LOT worse than you think they are.  And books about it don't help.  As many readers they inform, they lose because of people disagreeing.  Counterarguments, which may or may not be less valid.  And that makes me angry, because so what if you're quibbling over exactly how much damage is being done and by whom.  The difference is, at most, the difference between very very bad and almost very very bad, but you'd let it convince you that all is under control.

What I wouldn't do for a hive mind.  If all people shared a single interest and awareness, conservation would be much more efficient.

And fiction.  Pathos or logos?  Is it even worth considering?  "The Lorax" converted me, but I'm not sure how much of that amounted to practical change.  So maybe the answer is simply to throw oneself headlong into hedonistic wastefulness, because the greatest amount of effort expended on one person's part to lessen the burden on the environment is next to nothing at all.  There are simply too many people.  The numbers win. 

It's very exhausting.
jookitcz: (Default)
I'm considering inventing a new kind of vegetarianism, for myself.  I'm calling it, "Band-aid Vegetarianism."  Why?  I like vegetables okay, but I rarely think to myself, "Man, I could really go for some broccoli right now."  Actually, I do, but it's more along the lines of snap peas and artichokes for me.  And while I have a moral problem with the animals' quality of life in factory farms, I'm okay with raising animals to kill and eat in general.  I wouldn't want to do the killing myself, no, but if I had to kill to eat, I'm sure I would learn to be fine with it.  Occasionally.  I might hunt down all the vulnerable potato plants in the area first.

But not all meat is raised on traditional farms.  There are, it seems, "farms" that conform to this particular business model.  The article discusses a pork factory company in the southeastern United States that produces so much and such volatile waste that people fall in pools of chemical pig manure and dieThat's beside the enormous environmental damage.  In my mind, this is obviously an immoral use of land and animal, and causes more harm than fair. 

Smithfield estimates that its total sales will reach $11.4 billion this year. So prodigious is its fecal waste, however, that if the company treated its effluvia as big-city governments do -- even if it came marginally close to that standard -- it would lose money. So many of its contractors allow great volumes of waste to run out of their slope-floored barns and sit blithely in the open, untreated, where the elements break it down and gravity pulls it into groundwater and river systems. Although the company proclaims a culture of environmental responsibility, ostentatious pollution is a linchpin of Smithfield's business model.

A lot of pig shit is one thing; a lot of highly toxic pig shit is another. The excrement of Smithfield hogs is hardly even pig shit: On a continuum of pollutants, it is probably closer to radioactive waste than to organic manure.
It's an interesting article if you're feeling morbid.  Unconscionable to even dream of supporting of this monstrosity by chance, and beside the issue, livestock is a pretty inefficient way of feeding the human body.  The animals we eat need resources to support them, plus the food that the animals eat requires resources of its own.  And we sit on top of this ginormous inefficiency pyramid!  Well, if I want people to take me seriously, I mean, as an economics major, I can't let myself be tarred by that kind of inefficient... thing.   And  as for my Environmental Studies concentration, well, that goes without saying.  Vegetarianism of some kind might very well be crucial to my sense of proper scholarship.    I'm going to ignore the business minor for now. 

The problem is, I rather like meat.  In my mind, chicken is a kind of palette for gastronomic creativity, and red meat is just delicious.  But what if I just ate them for special occasions, or when I'm at home?  Thus, band-aid vegetarianism.

Lucky for my conscience, I hate pork.  Joseph Luter III, chairman of Smithfield, mentions, "Most vegetarians I know are neurotic."  I wonder if maybe it is impossible for anyone with a heightened social conscience to look at the world and not be a little neurotic?
jookitcz: (Default)
I wrote a few days ago, in post-script, that I love trees.  I thought I'd clarify the statement.  It isn't an I Love Lamp kind of I Love Trees.  There are honestly times when my stomach will flip over if I'm walking in a forest or a park, I'll half-swoon at the thought of green, temperate ecosystems, or the thought of the firs around my house will pull me out of a funk. 

There is a stand of relatively small firs in the corner of our property, populating a small rise.  My grandma once tried to install decorative rocks and shade plants underneath them, on the side of the hill, but ten years later, the garden is as patchy as natural growth.  My favorite games as a kid were under those trees.  My best friend Julia and I would pretend to be--what? something like princess sisters who had run away from home and set up housekeeping in the wilderness, and convert the space under the trees into a pretend shelter.  We'd sweep out the accumulated pine needles and stack the fallen twigs.  We'd find space for various plastic shovels and bowls by hanging them from the branches.  We'd pretend to hunt or heal wounded animals, and if my brother was lucky, we'd find a minor character for him to play. 

I've grown up with trees in my skyscape, as far as I can remember, and it's always a thrill to be under them, to look at their roots or branches and see the bits that make them trees, and not just woods.  And when I say tree, the image in my head is of a hundred and fifty foot douglas fir, or maybe a cedar.  They amaze me, like monoliths amaze.  Like the Colossus amazed. 

When my grandma lived with us, she would call me to the window during a windy day and tell me the trees were dancing.  Silliness, for sure.

Trees--I don't know.  On one level, I can make myself look out the window and say, "Well, yes.  They're tall because they grow.  They only grow in one direction.  There's no real mystique, no wisdom, no dryad in them.  They just grow.  Lots."  But my brain, somehow, doesn't really believe that.  It doesn't make a difference what it believes, really, but nothing will convince it that trees aren't sacred in some way.  And since that belief has no more arguable basis in fact than most faith, I can't convey it to other people.

Well, it almost doesn't make a difference.   I've cried a few times over trees.  Once when they logged the ravine.  Once when our northeast neighbor cut down all his firs.  Once when our west neighbor cut down all his firs--that was the worst, because he had absolutely no reason for it, except vague, unlicensed ambitions of building a machine shed.  And every time trees nearby go down, I'm afraid for the mortality of my family's trees.  The fewer tall firs, the more dangerous the wind is to those that are left.  And what happens when my family moves away?  Will the new family have any advocate for leaving potential dangers on the property, just because they are trees?

To close with an ironic note:

My grandfather on my father's side ran a sawmill.
jookitcz: (the last unicorn)
Imagine something for me. You live in a small town in Eastern Washington (pop. 1570) and work full time at a ten-table cafe. On Monday mornings, you act as hostess, waitress, and cashier. A girl walks in with three boys. She seems to be college aged. It's hard to tell. But she is wearing the most peculiar clothes. Black flip-flops over green woolen socks, red plaid pajama pants which stop inches short of her ankles, and a man's leather jacket over a pink sweater over a black shirt over a orange tanktop over another orange tanktop. Her hair is best described as "absurd." It has the look of curly hair that was trampled by a tossing head while sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag in the woods in a super-humid tent. Because it was raining outside.

Do you serve her food? Do you even notice if her three companions look half as disreputable? If you do, she's immensely thankful, because there was only a can of tomato soup (and rather a lot of delicious raspberry vodka) standing between this breakfast and that of yesterday.

Camping was pretty wonderful. Sure, I spend most of the night chilled, damp, and unsure whether or not I was sleeping on my sleeping pad or the very cold ground. And it rained a lot. But forested lakes are peculiarly beautiful in the rain. Priest Lake is very clear. The water in the morning is very still. And there are bright leaves dropping onto the surface near shore, so I saw the leaf floating over water over clean stones. And there was mist on the lake.

But most of all, it was autumn. There isn't autumn in Western Washington, really. Leaves turn brown and soggy and fall off. It rains a lot. It is difficult to distiguish from winter, really, except the roads are not icy. In any case, it isn't a particularly attractive season. And even the beauty of the Cascades in the summer is different, because the colors are all of one texture: green, coniferous.

The drive through Eastern Washington (and Idaho) was very different. Unbelievably rich, and the feeling is of your eyes widening too much before each blink to gorge themselves on sight. The deciduous trees all turn yellow, just on the far side of orange, and are citrus-luminescent. Better yet, there are Tamaracks. I don't think we have these at home. They're pine trees, sure, but inside of staying evergreen they turn even more fiery bright than the leaf-droppers. So the woodscape is a stippling of dark, calm green, with ridiculously exciting patterns of sharp color laced through it. But add the sky to the palette too--it's huge and many shapes of down-gray. And the ground itself shifts the color scheme minute by minute. It runs in colors of dead grass from wheat to almost as orange as the tamaracks, washed with brush that is gray or mahogany or vivid maroon, or filled with still water that reflect the gray sky. And broken in the foreground by sparse old buildings, weathered barns, wood fences. Horses and cows, too.

All of this is hugely exciting to me. If I were to read this entry back to myself, I would think--melodramatic sap, does she think describing pretty nature scenes is interesting? Or original? What disgusting, unimaginative passivity!

Maybe the bottom of that is only that anyone can look at nature and appreciate it. That's nothing special. But it's also like a touching song or good joke or excellent food, which is exponentially more amazing when you share it with other people. And I took no pictures, so by rights I'm allowed my thousand words.

Suddenly I understand evangelism.

Green!

Oct. 2nd, 2006 04:57 pm
jookitcz: (Default)
And this makes me excited.  I want one.

Sapiens

Aug. 9th, 2006 10:15 pm
jookitcz: (Default)
I stood on the pier with Aislinn's hand in mine, watching amateur fishermen and their families at business.  It was exciting for her.  My cousins hail from Edmonton, Alberta, which has a distinct lack of ocean.  Even if our ocean is the Puget Sound, which today was as still as lake water.  Except for the salt taste and low tide, or the barnacles and clams and baby tidepool crabs, you might not have known.  The kids like to see starfish, which are more like vivid burgundy sunflowers and enormous with age and regenerated limbs.  They like to comb the beach for seashells.  They aren't connoisieurs.   After five minutes, the pockets of my sweatshirt were full of broken shell bits that Mckenna needed me to keep for her.

Someone on the pier caught a shark, and for a few minutes I was incredibly pleased that Aislinn could get to see such a thing.  It was only two feet long, although otherwise just like the sharks of imagination.  Size though, matters.  It was cute for being small.  Muscley, though, and you could see in the way it twisted.  It was beautiful.  For the moment, I love sharks.  They are perfect for what they are, and amazing.

Less amazing was the man who caught it, and his sons.

"It's bad.  Cut it up."  That was a son.  The father didn't say much.  He stepped on it, one foot pressing down on the tail, the other just below its head.  He tore the fish hook out.  Their booted feet shifted around, more than enough weight pressing to cause internal bleeding, the action less to restrain the animal and more like some absurd assertion of dominance.  Aislinn wanted to see what they were doing.  I ushered her away. 

Apparently there is a place in the world for a family man who amuses his sons by traumatizing sharks, then cutting off the fins on only one side of its body before throwing it back.  An hour later, I walked back to the pier.  Twenty feet below, I could see it swimming on its side, in circles.  The kids playing on the pier found this very entertaining. 

It made me hate my species a little bit.

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