Monthly Archives: December 2017

Killing off our natural legacy

Utah’s Bears’ Ears

Utah’s Bears’ Ears

If you get a cut, it very likely will heal.

If you cut a femoral artery, you may bleed to death in minutes.

A forest fire may not destroy a woodland.

But development and coal and gas and uranium mining surely will destroy a woodland and all that is seen above and exists below the surface that has existed for hundreds and thousands of years, never to be restored, and dead to us forever.

Teddy Roosevelt, a rough rider, and a lifelong Republican, discovered nature in the Dakota Badlands.

In 1888, he wrote “the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further been impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.”

In 1905, President Roosevelt created the United States Forest Service, and after that, 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, 4 national game preserves, 5 national parks, and 18 national monuments.

The American Antiquities Act became law in 1906 and protected 230 million acres of public land because the Act gave the President the discretion to create national monuments – and he did.

After camping in Yosemite National Park, Roosevelt said, “It was like lying in a great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hand of man.”

Jim Wine, an acknowledged conservationist, now living in Stockholm, relies on the early legal doctrine of “usufructus” to state our legal obligation, a right to use the land (usus) in one’s lifetime, provided that its fruits (fructus) are not wasted and passed on to the next generation undiminished.

This past week, Mr. Trump violated this principle in a massive assault on protected public lands, two magnificent monuments in Utah, Bears Ears, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Mr. Trump preferred the interest of large development and fossil fuel and uranium miners, insiders and contributors, who got him a desk in the Oval Office. Continue reading

A patriot in our midst

o-PAUL-REVEREWe survived the American Revolution, the war with Britain afterwards, our slave war among the states, the Civil War, Jim Crow laws, the exclusion of blacks and women from the voting rolls, the Spanish American war, Pearl Harbor, World wars, the McCarthy era, the Cuban Missile Crisis, ‘Nam, Nixon, Billygate, the Iran Contra scandal (“Contra-Fawn-and-Ollie (North)), and 9-11.

But, at long last, will we survive the despot in the West Wing, Mr. Donald Trump, a failed casino operator, intolerant of one and all but especially women and persons of color?

Mr. Trump is best imagined as a relentless undignified thug, engaged in a never-ending assault, elbows akimbo, pushing dignitaries out of the way, hurling insults and trash talk, worst of all, attacking this nation’s first principle, as expressed by Thomas Jefferson, namely, that we are all equal, worthy of respect, amazingly diverse, and all in this together.

Mr. Trump runs down our government, the Courts, Congress, Mr. Trump’s own cabinet, as well as his Republican Party.

Mr. Trump sees himself as the one and only authority that matters.  But what else may one expect of a despot? Continue reading