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U.S. Sportsmen must vote gun rights next week

[A version of this essay was published by the American Thinker at https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2020/10/american_sportsmen_must_vote_gun_rights_next_week.html ]

It is not news to anyone who cares about American liberty that guns of every sort, caliber, style, color, and design have been in the crosshairs of anti-gun activists for decades. It is no stretch to describe these anti-gun activists as totalitarians-in-waiting, because their ultimate goal is complete civilian disarmament, which results in only one thing: Tyranny. Yes, even black powder muzzleloading rifles are targeted by gun grabbers, even though the last time an American was hurt by one was when someone took one off the mantel and dropped it on their toe.

Anti-gun activists are especially seeking “universal background checks,” because that process would allow them to build up the kind of individual firearm owner database they need now to do the door-to-door gun confiscation they dream of later on. But on this subject they keep running up against a political and legal buzz saw from the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, Firearms Owners Against Crime, and various state rifle and pistol associations. And so now gun grabbers are going after the one chink in the gun owners’ armor, what they see as the weakest link in the gun owners chain, and that is America’s sportsmen.

Sportsmen are an unusual demographic group of mostly political moderates, super-voters who cherish clean waterways, support land trusts and coastal conservation organizations, and who also cling strongly to their often basic hunting guns. Sportsmen are mostly not the AR15 “black rifle” tactical crowd, and that has made them especially interesting to the gun grabbers.

And so an effort is afoot to convince American hunters, trappers, and recreational fishermen that the most important issues they must vote for and about next week are the environment and public lands. And we all know how that mantra goes: Republicans are bad, and Democrats are good, which translates into Trump Bad, Biden Good. Never mind that most environmental groups are partisan Democrat Party activism centers who use the environment as their excuse to make war, now there are fake sportsmen’s groups and fake gun owner’s groups.

When you dig just a bit under the thin veneer of these groups’ “we are wholesome sportsmen and gun owners just like you” message, what you find is no surprise. They are each just yet one more phony, politically partisan, anti-gun concoction that camouflages itself as something else. Several anti-gun groups in particular are targeting sportsmen with deceptive behavior. The Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and Gun Owners for Safety are chock full of people professing to be ardent gun owners, but who nonetheless inevitably cite the same garbage anti-gun “studies” and who inevitably promote draconian  anti-gun policies as “fair,” and “common sense” etc. These fake groups are as easy to spot as phonies as is a pheasant breaking thirty yards out against a clear blue Fall sky.

But a third group that is really gaining traction among sportsmen is Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, and they much more carefully, perhaps artfully, straddle the natural mix of environmental quality and gun ownership interests that sportsmen have. And BHA is strident this year about voting on environmental issues alone, to the exclusion of gun rights. Its president, a guy actually named Land Tawney, has a long association with Barack Obama and Democrat Party activism. BHA is partnering with Patagonia clothing company, which has underwritten and promoted a movie called Public Trust: The Fight for America’s Public Lands. This movie is the centerpiece of BHA’s get-out-the-vote efforts this year.

Public Trust is done in a documentary style, narrated by Hal Herring, a long-time writer for Field & Stream magazine. The movie is masterful and has great cinematography. But it is not always accurate, especially in claims about so-called climate change and hanging every environmental problem and cause around the neck of – you guessed it – Republicans and the Donald Trump Administration. Public Trust also plays the usual environmentalist game of presenting false choices. For example, water quality concerns about the proposed Twin Metals copper mine in Minnesota could be addressed through posting a sufficient cleanup bond, but that would negate all the opportunities for political drama that liberals want.

If President Trump’s political opponents forget to mention that he signed the Great American Outdoors Act just a few months ago, allow me to remind them. The GAOA funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the first time since human-caused “climate change” was just a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye. GAOA funded national and local parks and forests operations and maintenance backlogs, infrastructure needs, and a host of other conservation and public lands needs from sea to shining sea. Trump is not an evil anti-environment boogey man, but Joe Biden certainly is an ardent gun-grabber, and his inner circle is a constellation of anti-trapping and anti-hunting groups.

Next week, American sportsmen cannot afford the luxury of voting for anything but Second Amendment rights. Without our guns, there is no sporting tradition, period, so vote for President Donald J. Trump. See you in the field afterwards!

Patagonia clothing company has this confusing message posted on its website. See, to me, a “climate denier” is a “science believer” and a human-caused climate change proponent is at best a gullible fool hyped up on a political cause that has no science in it, behind it, around it.

Who knows where Patagonia got this smokestack city photo, but if it is in America, the white emissions are probably steam. Which is water. Which is not a pollutant. To try to sell this as a picture of commonplace industrial pollution, Patagonia and BHA want viewers to believe we are really living in 1968.

A greedy white man in a suit, carving up parts of America for dinner with his cruel, bloody chef knife. A part of my experience tells me there is a grain of truth to this propaganda, because it is true that America’s natural resources have been utilized for three hundred years. Including now by the Crow Indian tribe on tribal lands, thanks to President Donald Trump.

Response to PA Gov. Tom Ridge on Conservatives & the Environment

On April 22nd this year, Earth Day, The Atlantic published an opinion piece by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, about conservatives and the environment (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/environment-gop-out-touch/610333/). The Atlantic solicited responses to Ridge’s essay, and so I submitted one to them, but received back no indication they would publish it. They did not publish it, because liberals like those at The Atlantic accept and publish only liberals, and reject conservatives.  So here it is, my response to Governor Ridge’s essay about conservatives and the environment.

I felt compelled to respond to Governor Ridge’s essay, in part because I worked in his administration, and in part because I have met few Republicans who can articulate a truly conservative view of environmental policy, which Governor Ridge failed to do. I was also afraid of being seen as attacking someone I hold in high esteem, and I need to say that while I may disagree with Governor Ridge’s essay and some of his recent public stances, like supporting PA governor Tom Wolf’s covid19 lockdown, I remain impressed by Governor Ridge’s high character. I am proud to have served in his distinctively excellent administration.

Governor Ridge’s  essay slightly opens a doorway that I am both pleased and also reluctant to push all the way open. But it needs to be opened, all the way, because for far too long establishment Republicans have claimed to be conservatives, while acting like liberals.

Governor Ridge writes his essay “as a conservative,” and despite boldly leading by example in placing highly competent gays, women, and minorities in senior government positions literally decades ago, long before most Democrats followed suit, Governor Ridge was, in fact, a true conservative. His achievements in conservative policy are legion, including Pennsylvania becoming a shall-issue concealed firearm carry state and his administration’s brownfield land recycling program.

Nonetheless, the emphasis today is on he “was.”

Governor Ridge was a conservative, and by today’s standard, he is not. This is not because Governor Ridge has changed, but because what now defines a conservative has changed so dramatically since the time he was governor. The same holds true for liberals, by the way, in their own way (we see the Democrat Party now a totally, openly, violent, racist, anti-America Marxist organization).

And like so many, if not all other political elites, especially Republicans, and most especially establishment Republicans from the hide-bound, bunker-mentality Pennsylvania GOP, Governor Ridge has not changed with the times. Governor Ridge was a conservative, and today he often speaks like a liberal, and sides with liberals on policy disputes. He is not alone in this, but each Republican who does so still causes pain to us conservatives in the political trenches. It is frustrating as hell to experience a former Republican appointee or elected official try to speak with authority as some sort of representative of conservativism, when in fact, they are simply liberals. Or RINOs for short (Republican In Name Only – not conservative).

Probably the biggest indication that Governor Ridge is out of synch with today’s conservatives is how he encourages us to adopt a laundry list of liberal environmental policies in his The Atlantic essay. This means that his solution for conservatives to succeed is for us to adopt liberalism. Even though most of the “environmental” groups are simply employment offices for Democrat Party operatives pushing Marxist, partisan policies. Very few environmental groups today are even seeking solutions, because they are busy dreaming up new problems.

Most of the policies pushed by environmental groups today are by definition Big Coercive Government, Small Defenseless Citizen, anti-Constitution, disregard for private property rights, mountains out of mole hills, and so on. These groups are not about the environment, they simply use the subject of the environment as another avenue to push Marxism and the Big Government necessary to force it down our throats. Governor Ridge should know this, of all people.

What Governor Ridge failed to address is: How can we conservatives embrace the very same failed and inferior liberal policies that drove us to becoming conservatives in the first place? If we adopt liberalism, then we are abandoning conservativism, and failing as conservatives.

Every single environmental policy recommendation that Governor Ridge lists in his essay directly contradicts core conservative principles, like small government, less intrusive government, less spendy government, less activist government, less regulatory government, accountable government and accountable taxpayer-funded government employees. Literally every single policy he lists requires the government to intervene in a big, coercive way, often over trifling differences or demonstrably false premises.

Governor Ridge’s environmental ideas are not conservativism; they are quintessential big government liberalism.

Perhaps the centerpiece of his essay is that conservatives must concede at least a bit on “climate change.” Yet, for conservatives, this particular issue, more than any other, highlights the distinction between us and liberals. For conservatives to agree with the Marxist, disproven, and notoriously phony climate change religion would be to abandon basic, solid, conservative principles altogether….like Capitalism 101, solid math and science, and transparency. Again, we are unpersuaded the climate warming-cooling-change-whatever issue even exists, let alone that a government solution consistent with America’s Constitution could be found.

Governor Ridge writes “The Republican Party has largely abandoned environmental issues.” To which I and a host of other conservatives would respond, No, but many Republicans have abandoned the citizen voters and the forgotten taxpayers of America. Many careerist Republicans have embraced popular culture and its feel-good-now bubblegum policies. For Republicans to respect openly partisan “environmental” groups and embrace liberal nonsense like so-called ‘climate change’ and similar policies would only be one more betrayal in a long line of policy and political betrayals committed by the Republican establishment. Conservatives have perfectly sound environmental policies based on perfectly sound, all-American principles. If you but ask us, we will explain them. We conservatives didn’t abandon environmental issues, nor did we leave the Republican Party. The Republican establishment abandoned us.

Josh First is president of Appalachian Land & Conservation Services, LLC. He has worked at the US EPA in Washington, DC, The Conservation Fund, the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, and was Director of Environmental Education and Information at the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources in the Governor Tom Ridge administration.

Earth Day: Protect What Matters

Today is Earth Day, a day annually marked for environmental protection. Good, we need it. We all need to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and eat clean food.

All kinds of organizations run advertisements today promoting a clean environment, a protected environment, wildlife habitat conservation, and so on. Most of the ideas we will see promoted today are worthy of attention and worthwhile policy efforts, while some of the more heavily marketed ideas are Marxist anti-capitalism dingbat stuff.

The two biggest challenges we have on Earth Day are overcoming the fake issue of human-caused “climate change,” and protecting the American economy. Achieving both of these goals will actually maximally protect the environment.

“Climate change” on its face is a factual thing, because Planet Earth has had constant climate change since its creation. Glaciers have come and gone on their own, sea levels have risen and fallen on their own, and plants and animals have come and gone as the greater environmental forces around them directly shape their habitat, the salinity of the water they live in, and the air they breathe. All of this dynamism has happened without any human intervention. In fact, most of it has happened without any humans existing at all.

Climate change continues on today just as it always has since the Earth was born, and though human actions might contribute to it in some minuscule way, the fact is that humans have a far greater and more measurable impact on more important environmental issues.

The problem with the current human-caused climate change hoax is that it sucks all of the air out of the room, leaving no oxygen for other real, actual, measurable and documented issues like lost wildlife habitat, farmland loss, water quality, forest fragmentation, and controlling the invasive plants and animals that are literally destroying our native environments and species.

All of the “climate change” policy bandied about is a result of bad modeling using flawed data, junk science, topped off with deliberate fraud and public shaming of heretics. The fake but well-heeled climate change industry is fueled by juicy foundation and government grants, making all kinds of financial incentives for people to continue this fakery. Fake climate change junk science can be a hell of a good business for a few private bank accounts!

Normal people see this obvious policy fraud and end up writing off the entire quest for environmental quality as just a bunch of “environmentalist wackos” trying to destroy Western Civilization. And indeed, a great many of the climate change advocates are in fact America-hating Marxists, whose suspect opinions aren’t worth spit. But it is not fair to roll all environmental quality efforts in with the climate change nonsense. Leftists include the real issues together with fake climate change to give climate change unwarranted credibility, while magical-thinking meatheads on the right also do it to discredit all environmental quality issues.

If there is one thing we have all witnessed over the past month of China Flu coronavirus here in America, it is that in addition to weakening America by sending our technology and jobs there, for decades Americans have exploited Chinese slave labor and the Chinese environment so that we could have more cheap junk available to play with at home. It is an undeniable fact that like the Russians before them, Chinese Marxism has destroyed the Chinese environment, while American capitalism has created the high living conditions here necessary for our citizens to expect environmental protection.

Capitalism protects the environment, while Marxism and communism destroy it through unbridled industrialism to buoy up their ruling elites.

Today, on Earth Day, the best thing we can do is to re-open the American economy and create the kinds of high quality living conditions here that incentivize environmental protection. Protect the world’s environment by repatriating American jobs from their thirty-year hiatus in China. Demonstrate to Americans that we can all enjoy high quality environmental protection without sacrificing our economy on the false altar of human caused climate change..or a Chinese virus whose effects are felt locally but whose costs are being applied equally everywhere across the United States.

One call I won’t take

Phony, fraudulent telemarketer calls are super annoying, and like you, I am fed up with them.

Another phony call just arrived, called “Call of the Wild,” a new movie loosely based on a Jack London book by the same name.

Jack London’s stories of tenuous life in the Yukon and Alaskan interiors are the stuff of pre-internet American boyhood. Just like coonskin Davey Crockett hats were all the rage among American boys in the 1950s and 1960s after Fess Parker starred in the same-named TV show, so too did London inspire many young men to get their forestry degree, build a canoe, cut down their grandmother’s favorite apple tree with a hatchet, or move to Alaska. His stories of nail-biting survival and creeping or sudden death in the boreal forests and frigid back country rang true, and a number of movies have been made about them. Some better than others, but all of them pretty good just because the story line is great.

London’s story about a young man caught at sundown in the winter time Alaskan bush, unprepared for the minus-forty-degree night, who gets down to his last match and finally succeeds at lighting a life-saving fire, only to have the snow from the branches above fall and smother the fire, is classic.

This latest iteration involves an unrealistic CGI human-like dog that giddy un-wilderness urbanites will fawn over. It also includes Harrison Ford, a man blessed with poor acting skills who nonetheless has landed a huge list of Hollywood roles and who made a huge pile of money. Play acting and playing dress-up; not exactly brain surgeon level or even bank teller level stuff.

And to be fair, Ford’s best movie roles are those that fit his kind of simple, bland, taciturn persona, like the Jack Ryan character, or Indiana Jones, or the emotion-less Blade Runner cyborg cop. Or those roles that are actually enhanced by his lack of acting skills, like Star Wars‘ Han Solo. Whenever Harrison Ford is tasked with actually acting, his lack of nuance or depth shines through bright and shiny. One suspects that this Call of the Wild will be one such role and performance. Or maybe not, because the 2020 movie poster for it shows Ford looking all serious and taciturn.

Now, because I am a wilderness hunter, fisherman, and trapper, any new movie like Call of the Wild immediately gets my attention. Bad acting or no, evil corrupt anti-America Hollywood or no, CGI human dogs or no, it is a movie I would naturally be inclined to go see. It is about nature and outdoor adventure, my favorite things. However, Harrison Ford finally performed honestly the other day and thereby blew up any chance of me seeing his film, and probably many other people feel the same way.

Last week, Ford appeared on not-funny Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show, and blasted Preident Trump, calling him “a son-of-a-bitch.”

Out of nowhere, and for no particular reason. Other than pandering to Hollywood.

What a shame, because at one time Ford was a spokesman for Conservation International, a worthy environment protection organization. His other opinions about so-called climate change and carbon reduction are the usual Hollywood hypocritical hilarity, because Ford is also the guy who flies his own plane on a 400-mile round trip to get a single hamburger to satisfy his craving for fast food. Talk about a carbon footprint, and yet his lecturing never ends.

Now, everyone is entitled to their opinions, and like Ford, I am entitled to mine, too. And my opinion is that I will not support with movie ticket purchases those celebrity Hollywood actors who insult me, my values, my lifestyle, or the people I vote for. So I will not be answering Harrison Ford’s Call of the Wild. Though I might play it on one of the many black market bootleg websites, just so I can take from Ford a tiny bit of what Ford took away from me: A good feeling.

Below is just one video of Harrison Ford actually whining about his wild success, as if it ruined him as some sort of serious artiste. Oh please. Ford is just another out of touch, spoiled rotten Hollywood jerk. Where is comedian Ricky Gervais when we need him most? Every Hollywood actor like Harrison Ford should have to spend a week with Gervais following him or her everywhere they go, commenting on their vapid lives and stupid statements.

SB 619 captures tug of war between big government and the citizenry

SB 619 is PA state senator Gene Yaw’s fix to a problem that should not even exist. And yet, this bill is being greeted by so-called environmental advocates as some sort of “attack” on environmental quality and environmental protection.

Senate Bill 619 is about one simple thing: Making Pennsylvania state government regulators spell out exactly what is, and what is not, an environmental spill that is so bad that it contaminates waterways and is a violation of our state “clean streams” law.

You would think that in late 2019, 243 years after the founding of America, all state governments would be run by responsible adults who are committed to the wellbeing of their fellow citizens first and foremost. A commitment like that would first and foremost be to the rule of law and the due process rights that undergird and frame everything that is American representative government. Simply put, the government cannot willy nilly decide for itself, based on ambiguous, general, opaque, undefined, arbitrary standards, what is an environmental contamination, and what is not an environmental contamination.

In representative government, We, The People are entitled to know our boundaries, where the borders are to our behavior, and where the government gets to step in and correct us. This understanding keeps us from making decisions in good faith that end up getting us entangled with government enforcers who hit us with fines and penalties for making an incorrect decision.

Presently, and unbelievably, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has no clearly defined standards for what qualifies as a reportable spill and contamination into a waterway. PA DEP’s entire standard is, get this, for real: “We will know it when we see it.”

Folks, I am not exaggerating, I am not making this up. This is how much infinite latitude the state government has now and wants to maintain. This means that literally every time something – a cup of coffee, a can of paint, a bucket of mine sludge, or any miniscule part thereof – falls from its original container into the environment, and into or next to a waterway, it must be reported to PA DEP. And PA DEP reserves the right to fine whoever is responsible, irrespective of whether or not that spill involved anything dangerous, toxic, or at such a small dilution that it is de minimus in its effect.

In practice, this means that PA DEP both chases its tail going after ridiculously unimportant “spills” that pose no threat to anything, which underserves the citizenry who underwrite PA DEP’s budget, and that the agency also holds a huge arbitrary hammer over the head of every single citizen, contractor, and industrial or commercial operator in or passing through the Commonwealth. While being arbitrary is bad enough, reports from the field – you know, the little people who actually work outside getting stuff done for the rest of us consumers – is that plenty of PA DEP staff use that arbitrary standard in capricious ways. These PA DEP staff are, simply put, empowered to be vindictive and petty little tyrants whenever they want to be.

To their shame, the opponents of SB 619 are acting as if the bill is some sort of assault on environmental quality, when it is not, not even close. The PA Fish & Boat Commission is actually on record opposing SB 619 because it allows for “interpretation” in the law. This is embarrassingly bad government to say things like this. Needless to say, the private sector opponents of SB 619 say even worse and less accurate things than the PFBC has written.

Can you imagine something so horrid as there being two sides to a story, some “interpretation” about what happened, and not having just one omnipotent government agency position, take it or take it, because you can’t leave it, because the government agency has 100% of the say in what happened, and you can’t figure it out until some government employee tells you? Is it really so terrible to rein in our government agencies and require them to live by defined standards like the rest of us have to live? Like our Federal and State Constitutions require? Like a whole bunch of other states already have?

SB 619 simply asks PA DEP to establish criteria and standards so that the citizenry and the industries they work in can know when they are following the law, and when they are not. It asks government employees to live by the rules everyone else must live by. It asks government to not engage in arbitrary and capricious behavior, which undermines everything our Republic and our Commonwealth are about. You know, that liberty and freedom stuff that seems so insignificant to the self-appointed guardians of environmental quality. One thing is clear: My fellow environmental professionals may care about the environment, but they do not care about democracy or good government.

This bill is not about environmental quality, it is about democracy, the role of government, good government, government transparency and accountability, and limits on government power. It represents the tug of war going on nationwide between people who want unfettered big government power, and those of us who want government to live within the Constitutional boundaries everyone else lives in.

SB 619 needs to be implemented now.

(c) 2006 Bonnie Jacobs

Wild fur makes the best clothing

Wild-caught salmon is a big treat, especially for those inclined to support sustainable fisheries. It is so special it is sold in boutique stores with pink ribbons tied in a bow, and all kinds of fancy messages to its end-users.

People feel good and righteous about eating wild caught salmon, because many salmon farms are not sustainable.

Similarly, wild-caught fur is the best clothing material you can obtain. It is far more beautiful than anything humans can create.

Wild caught fur is natural, not synthetic, so there is no industrial pollution associated with it.

Wild caught fur is a renewable resource, especially where ugly sprawl development has created the unfortunate conditions for predator populations to artificially grow and succeed beyond the surrounding habitat’s carrying capacity. In these suburban populations, trapping is a necessity, especially with raccoons, possums, skunks, fox and coyotes, all of which are exploding in number and tremendously damaging native song bird populations, among other native species.

In any case, wild animals naturally procreate and renew themselves, and all furbearer animals are carefully managed by professional wildlife biologists, who ensure that none are taken that the population cannot sustain.

Wild caught fur is biodegradable. It rots when it is used up, and it returns to its natural constituent parts, becoming soil over time. Contrast this to synthetic clothing, which is made from petrochemicals and industrial pollution, and which remains household waste and then environmental pollution for the next ten thousand years.

Finally, wild caught fur is sustainable. There is not one animal trapped for its fur anywhere in North America that federal or state biologists believe is at risk. Not one animal trapped for its fur in North America is going extinct, at risk of going extinct, or is piquing the concerns of biologists in Canada or America. Sustainable wild caught fur includes wolves, fox, marten, lynx, bobcat, fisher, otter, beaver, and of course raccoon, possum, coyote, mink, and others.

One former staple furbearer is having trouble, and that is the muskrat. For whatever environmental quality reason (likely improved water quality, of all things), muskrat populations are having terrible problems across North America. As a result, some states are carefully studying them. Trapping has a negligible impact on their overall populations.

Another animal that is not at all rare or endangered, but which has been purposefully politicized by people opposed to all trapping is the lynx. Lynx populations from Canada to Alaska are in fine shape.

Lynx do not really live south of the Canadian border, because the habitat conditions here do not support lynx.  However, south of the border, primarily in Maine, lynx are treated as if they are the last remaining examples of their species, and they are now heavily protected.

Lynx are the proverbial tail wagging the trapping dog in Maine. Though silly beyond imagination, newly required lynx exclusion devices have all but ended trapping in Maine. As a result of this silliness, there are certain song birds and native ground-nesting bird species that absolutely will become threatened or endangered, because all of the exploding predator populations no longer being trapped there. Those predators are very hungry and very efficient hunters.

This unintended result from stopping trapping in Maine proves that anti trapping activists do not care about wildlife. Rather, they substitute their sad, sad cartoon-like emotions for logic, reason, and careful thinking. Prohibiting all trapping is their goal, and whatever bad things happening afterwards is of no concern to them. Cute little piping plover birdies on Cape Cod or Long Island will just have to go extinct so the anti trappers can feel good about themselves.

Rest assured, trapping wild caught fur is not cruel, it is not barbaric, it is not mean, it is not sadistic, it is not dangerous to people or pets.

Aside from being a natural part of wildlife death, with modern traps and techniques (offset jaws, lots of swivels), trapping is almost always a humorous contrast between what is said about it by trapping opponents on the one hand, and the calm, relaxed reality waiting for the trapper when she checks her traps the next day, on the other hand.

Buy some wild fur yourself. Wear it with pride.

If you care about environmental quality, and if you care about cute little birds on the seashore, or turtles trying to lay their eggs, or cute little fawn deer trying to learn to walk in their first few days, then you will wear your wild caught fur with joy, knowing that your purchase creates the demand for more wild fur garments, and that healthier wildlife populations result.

It is a neat chain reaction, and you can feel good about it all the way around.

Hollywood trash

Whatever may be said about Hollywood’s corrosive effect on America’s collective soul through its films, there is no debating that it is also a physically disgusting and filthy place.

Blessing or curse, we had the recent opportunity to walk a lot through Hollywood. What we saw was the unfilmed insider look at the real, unfiltered Hollywood.

Beverly Boulevard of Beverly Hills fame was until yesterday loaded with heaps of rotting rubbish and trash. Both sides of the street, block after block after block.

Most of it was deposited by insane homeless bums who hoard every scrap of civilization they can get unto their respective shopping cart, and when it all overfloweth, they leave heaps of this detritus lying on sidewalks.

Everywhere. Every fifty feet, both sides of the street.

And this is Biblical crap: Defecation -covered clothing, food wrappers, styrofoam cups, stained rags, heaps of trash, everything buzzing with insects and smelling of urine and rotting food. Occasionally a dejected  human is guarding a particular heap, but as we witnessed over a week, even homeless bums reeking of long-unwashed bodies and wounded spirits eventually abandon their treasure and castles. They seem to move in unison, crossing the street en masse and setting up their tattered tents and new trash piles against walls, sidewalk benches, each block having its own long line of stench and crap. Old or new, there’s a lot of crap.

But suddenly the city of Los Angeles descended upon the heaps on Beverly Blvd yesterday. Workers wearing environmental protection suits used large snow shovels to scoop up the garbage into green-colored and clean-themed trucks.

While the trash disappeared, stains in the concrete and smells in the air remained.

Talking amongst ourselves, we surmised the situation was so dire that not even Los Angeles city government could ignore it. After all, this situation is hardly representative of America, democracy, successful self-government or even just simple wealth. Wrong again, rational people!

Turns out this morning is the LA Marathon. Beverly Blvd, La Brea Blvd, and nearby connecting roads and streets were shut down to allow new masses of sweaty, smelly humans to stampede through today. All disgusting crap already in place along the route was in the way, and had to be removed.

Plenty more discarded trash will be available to walk around and through tomorrow, after the race has ended.

Takeaway here?

Los Angeles is full of people, run by people, who embrace all kinds of bizarre notions in general, and who daily live completely out of synch with nature, who live wildly consumptive and environmentally unsustainable lives, and yet who also believe they can and must berate the world around them about all kinds of real and fake environmental issues, like human -caused climate change, the evils of cars, etc.

Los Angelinos and their city are literally full of crap.

Hurricane Harvey: Land Use, Not Climate Change

If there has been one big lesson from the sad devastation in the Texas Gulf, it is that poorly planned and poorly implemented land use more than anything is responsible for the catastrophic results.

“Climate change” may be a political science exercise more than a science exercise, but there is no debate about the actual facts on the ground in the Texas Gulf communities like Houston: Residential developments built downstream from watersheds are in the path of a watery bullet or bulldozer. And to think that undisturbed, those watersheds perform highly valued ecosystem services, for free, that no amount of channelizing, dyking, levies etc can come close to reproducing.

For two hundred years America has described any kind of residential and commercial development anywhere as “economic development,” and therefore desirable. And yet, here we have a classic example that some places should not have development. Unless the buildings there can withstand serious flooding. Even then the costs far outweigh the benefits.

I feel terrible for the flooding victims in Houston. Our own home in Harrisburg was built in 1939, in the flood zone along the Susquehanna River. It is a foolish place to build a house, and in 2011 our home had nearly six feet of water in the basement. It is a traumatic, disruptive experience.

To the extent they can help, state and the national governments should try to figure out how to buy out development rights in areas subject to floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters. That is a concrete response to a demonstrated problem. This would be the actual function of government, versus a lot of the silly peripheral “social” functions slowly accreted by government over the past decades.

And this is one of my objections to alleged human-caused “climate change.” It reduces our focus on actual, tangible environmental issues like land use, which we can actually fix.

Ooh-ooh, that smell

Dedicated readers of this site might wonder why we are not commenting about the lameness of a political party that filibusters everything in the US Senate, used “the nuclear option” themselves to advance the most radical and extreme federal judges and political appointees from 2010 to 2015, but which now is screaming bloody murder that the other political party followed their lead, did exactly what they did with the Senate rules, and allowed a simple majority vote to confirm the next US Supreme Court justice (Gorsuch) yesterday.

Why would a normal, healthy person spend time on that issue? It is obviously quite insane. One political party is dominated by people with an agenda that does not fit in with America’s political model. Would you normal people please stop supporting the Democrat Party, until its leadership is replaced with normal, mainstream Americans?

Instead, this essay here takes a line from a Lynyrd Skynyrd song about drug abuse, “Oooh-ooh that smell.”

This is about a daily personal health issue that seems to be unknown and unaddressed, despite having a real effect on Americans across the country. If you care about your health, read on.

We Americans are so addicted to cheap Chinese junk (tools, food, clothing, furniture, shoes, tires) that we shop ever more in big box stores filled to the brim with that cheap Chinese junk.  Or buy from Amazon, which imports from China by the shipful.

And when you enter the doorway of these big box stores, you are confronted with an odd, sickly sweet smell associated with the vast majority of Chinese manufacturing: Formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is used to pickle human remains for wakes and open casket funerals. It is used to stash scientific specimens in glass containers, so they will not rot, so they can be viewed and studied.

Formaldehyde is dangerous, toxic, and both acutely and chronically dangerous. And yet Americans work around hugely elevated amounts of formaldehyde in these ubiquitous big box stores, and Americans shop daily in these same places, all blissfully unaware that they are inhaling a significant amount of nasty chemical.

The formaldehyde you smell in the store is off-gassing from the consumer items sitting in cardboard boxes on the store shelves. This chemical permeates everything made in China, and there is so much of it that for years it keeps leaking out of the plastics, fabrics, and woods sent here, which we then put in our homes and garages as furniture and tools.

You are worried about ambient cigarette smoke? Cut us a break! Exposure to air-borne formaldehyde in these amounts is far worse for the human body, far riskier than the occasional cigarette, as is standing on a street corner in down town Manhattan, waiting for a street light to change, for that matter, because of all the ozone, particulates, and sulfur/ carbon dioxide/monoxide smog.

But nothing is being done about ambient formaldehyde risk, because it is associated with too much money and economic activity. And it is invisible, except to the nose.

There are no sexy prohibitionist crusades about ambient formaldehyde like there is with tobacco use (an upcoming subject here).  And yet take a good whiff the next time you go to a big box store. That weird sickly sweet smell is formaldehyde. Your lungs are getting a free embalming when you enter.

Note: If we bought American products, made in USA facilities where formaldehyde is not allowed to be used, then we would not be exposed to it when we went shopping. But we are like drug addicts, addicted to cheap Chinese junk, to our own detriment.

Why deer hunting is good for the environment

This past week was the early muzzleloader season in Pennsylvania. Instead of the modern inline muzzleloaders, I use an old fashioned flintlock. It is more challenging, and honestly, it’s just plain beautiful to look at.

Up at a relatively small piece of land I’ve been cultivating for twelve years, this fall marked the first time I’ve seen young oak seedlings survive deer browsing. Across the forest  floor a plethora of oak seedlings – white, red, chestnut – create a carpet effect that indicates a future of young oak trees….if they can avoid being eaten by deer.

While I was casually walking through the forest, I saw a young doe looking at me. I raised the gun and fired. I will take any opportunity to help the little oaks become big oaks. They do, after all, produce the acorns necessary to feed deer, bears, turkeys and many other wild animals.

Then as if on cue, one of my very next steps was right into an enormous pile of bear poop. Colored brown from all the acorns, this fresh pile represents a great modern conservation success story, Pennsylvania’s population of huge black bears.

How ironic that deer can eat the trees needed to feed both themselves and their predators, the bears. How ironic that humans, who have dramatically shaped our planet over the past 20,000 years, do all we can to help an animal that might want to eat us (the bear), due to our recreational desires, and in doing so eat the deer sought by the bear.

Life is intertwined. Our futures are intertwined, humans and wildlife. Deer hunting is good, and good for the environment.