Energy & Environment

Humans are the natural world, too

It seems like too much of what I read, see, or hear in the media is propaganda and spin.

Here’s an example. “Humans are ruining the planet” or some version of this theme is a daily drumbeat in American media and America’s classrooms.

One of the sub themes is that wild animals are disappearing from the planet.

Tell that to the coyotes who brazenly walk suburban streets and the mountain lions who have shown up in backyards in areas where they haven’t been seen in generations.

In my beach neighborhood, the appearance of an Osprey (a fish eating eagle) on a lamppost two years ago caused a sensation.  Now there are two Ospreys. Not to mention the growing population of skunks, rats and possums.

There are more white tailed deer in North America than there were on the day Columbus arrived.

Despite the propaganda, there are more Polar Bears today than 70 years ago. Other bear populations are thriving and their range is expanding all over North America.

In a recent trip to Alaska, I witnessed “endangered” bald eagles flocking around the piers in Saskatchewan looking for salmon in such numbers that it reminded me of a similar scene of sea gulls flocking around the piers in San Diego.

Protecting some species as “endangered” has validated the Law of Unintended Consequences. 

The Marine Mammals Act has allowed an explosion in the seal and sea lion population along the California coast.  Populations of fish have been decimated. 

Responding to the new food source, Great White sharks, rarely seen in California waters in the past, now regularly patrol the coast in search of their favorite pinniped snack.

Are some animals “endangered”? 

Of course.  Mostly in Africa where the local cultures still feature eating these animals and/or using their hides/horns/tusks for clothing/trade/aphrodisiacs.  Calling PETA — please open a branch in Africa.

The latest variation on this theme is “peak fish,” the notion that humans are over fishing the world’s oceans.

No doubt that fishing has had an impact. Some species have been fished to exhaustion. Blue fin tuna and cod, for example. Other species of fish have thrived in the absence of these predators.

Sharks have been extensively fished all over the world.  There is, however, no shortage of sharks.

Humans have reduced killing whales, mostly because Americans never acquired a taste for whale blubber and the need for whale oil to light the night was made obsolete by the inventions of the gas lamp and then the electric light bulb.

Whale species are thriving.  The Grey Whale annual trek down the west coast to calving lagoons in Mexico is now something of a parade with tourist boats cheering the whales on.

Last summer, I sailed alongside a pod of Blue whales off the coast of San Diego.  The largest animal ever to live on the planet, the Blue Whale was rarely seen in these parts in the past.

Here’s the point.

All living organisms on this planet have an impact on all other living organisms. We live in an ecological system that is constantly changing as species interact with each other.

In other words, species come and species go. Do you really miss the carrier pigeon?  Or the dinosaurs?

Is artificially interfering with that ecology to “save” certain species worth giving up the freedom to be part of the natural ecology yourself? Are humans now to be segregated from the natural environment to “save” that environment?

Both Federal and state agencies all over the country are restricting human access to public lands we own to “save” the animals and their habitat.  Isn’t it our habitat too?.

Like all species on this planet, humans seek to use the environment to our advantage, to thrive by manipulating the natural world. 

Just like the beaver, damning a stream builds a strong house for little beavers but the resultant flooding adversely affects the surrounding meadow.

Right now, the “Save the Planet” theme is killing jobs, creating chaos in our country, and needs to change.

North America has many times the oil reserves of the Middle East.  Energy independence is within our grasp.  Cutting off the flow of money to despots and terrorists is within our grasp. Yet some terrible perversion of reality, a terribly wrong political movement, prevents us from using the riches literally bubbling up under our feet. This has to change.

Humans are part of the natural world too.

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