Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tree Huggers

ENVIRONMENTALISTS. Political conservatives like myself are known to "look down their nose" at environmentalists (tree huggers). Usually it's because some environmentalists over state their case. No one disagrees that global warming is taking place, but even grade school kids learn that there was once an ice age when glaciers covered much of the earth, and then the planet got warm and most glaciers disappeared. All of us know that's why seashells can be found in desert lands. This history is widely accepted. Yes, there is a record of constant climate change. The three important questions we should be concerned with are; 

       1. Has "climate change" been accelerated or otherwise affected by modern society? 

       2. Is there anything we can do to reduce, alter or eliminate "climate change"?
       3. How can we best protect ourselves if nothing can be done to influence it?

Too many environmentalists, particularly liberal environmentalists, are telling us the impending disaster of "climate change" is upon us. That the sky is falling and catastrophe is around the corner. It's just not so. Traditional environmentalists suggest we not jump to conclusions. Let's study "climate change" and evaluate the threat more precisely. Let's determine exactly why it is happening, and then decide if population growth, industrialization, weapons of mass destruction, increasing use of oil and other natural resources before we turn each other inside-out and apply ineffective solutions. 

Talking with my ultra-liberal Grandson I've found that he refuses to even consider opposition to liberal concepts. He dismisses opposing thoughts completely and it bothers me. This isn't the hallmark of a well educated  person. The ability to gather facts and reason independently is the more traditional mark of an educated person.  My Grandson is a recent college graduate and like so many others of his generation has learned not to question ideas that conflict with his own. How did this happen? Is independent thinking and common sense no longer prt of education? What's going on here?

POLITICS. The recent election process wound it's way to a bitter end. The lengthy campaign was so filled with personal invective most Americans were disgusted. The federal government is now managed by a two party system. In practical terms each party has divisions within it. 
  • The Democratic Party includes an ultra-radical left wing. It is a  left leaning social-democrat-progressive element, and has become a large part of the moderate Democratic Party core. 
  • The Republican Party also includes ultra radical right wing  extremists. This ultra-conservative-libertarian faction is now a large part of the d more Republican Party core.
Republicans won this 2016 election and the presidential candidate considers himself a Conservative. It is expected that the national leadership will shift from Obama's extreme left progressive direction to Mr. Trump's traditional and conservative right direction.  Most of the folks that voted for Mr. Trump hope that this will come to pass. Political conservatism is on the rise and it is likely that there will soon be an attempt to reduce the size and the controls of the federal government. Environmentalists (mostly politically liberal) believe a reduction of controls will lead to a monumental environmental disaster. It's possible of course, but let's consider the following: 

1.  America's public lands, national parks, forests and deserts, are known to be poorly managed by bureaucratic government agencies. Political liberals believe If these bureaucrats and agencies are reduced or eliminated there will be even more damage. Conservatives suggest that since our system is failing we should consider:  

  • Returning a lot of federal land to the states.
  • Giving control of those lands to the states, with few minimum federal requirements.
  • Limiting the current federal lands to national parks, major watersheds for rivers that cross state lines, and areas considered in ecological danger, etc. 
  • Substantially reducing the number of employees in the Bureau of Land Management. 
No matter what the "tree huggers" say, we must consider human beings superior to any other living being or geographic element. Also, more important than a  project to benefit a vast area and/or population. Progress benefitting mankind should no longer be stalled or cancelled because of an insignificant bird, worm, insect, or whatever. 

Property zoning is perhaps the greatest impediment to successful land management. The federal government controls how the public lands may be used. If that control were to be given to the states great care would have to be used to ensure the quality of land use protected the land as well as the society it serves. In other words, the state would take over the zoning and the responsibility. Instead of relying on a federal government bureaucracy the control would rest with the state. 

The danger might be that by permitting unrestricted land use and thereby making possible the influx of new residents (and more tax dollars), the state would become responsible for the degradation of the (beautiful) natural environment and quality of life that the new and old residents cherish.

2.  Legal Responsibility. Our present laws do not always make sense. I shall cite an example: Around 1880 the Anaconda Mining Company was formed. By 1900 it accounted for half of America's copper production. In 1955 Anaconda began excavating the "Berkeley Pitt", an enormous hole in the ground over one mile in diameter and 1800 feet deep. The Anaconda's fortunes subseqentally declined because of foreign competition, expropriation of it's mines in Chile, and growing environmental concerns. Then, In 1976 Anaconda was purchased by Atlantic Richfield Oil (ARCO), which was more recently purchased by British Petroleum. BP closed the smelter in 1980 and the mine itself in 1983. The Berkeley Pit is now the largest and most expensive clean-up site in the United States. 

  • ARCO Claims it is unfair to hold them responsible for damage done by the previous owner - and that they purchased the assets from Anaconda, but not the liabilities.
  • In the view of the federal and state governments  ARCO acquired the assets of Anaconda including the liabilities. 
ARCO has already paid several million dollars to Montana for environmental clean-up. It's total estimated liability is considerably over one billion dollars - and growing. Who should pay?

It started with the Clark Fork, Milltown Dam, and the Pegasus Zortman Landusky Mine. That entity became Anaconda - who claims that no liabilities transferred forward. 

Is this fair?

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