Friday, December 30, 2005

Pneumonic flu

Interesting read on the flu epidemic that says quarantining infected people actually makes the virus worse.

Washington Post
Quarantine, from the Italian "quarantina," which means "space of 40 days," dates from 15th-century regulations devised in certain Italian cities to control the spread of plague by sequestering those thought to have been exposed to the disease. Along with isolation -- secluding those who are clearly sick -- it can be an effective tool for controlling outbreaks of certain types of disease. In 1910 and 1920, before antibiotics, plague experts in Manchuria controlled several deadly outbreaks of pneumonic plague using quarantine and isolation alone. But pneumonic plague, now rare, spreads in a very different way than flu does. Pneumonic plague germs are coughed out in large droplets that quickly fall to the ground. If you are more than six feet away from a plague patient, you're unlikely to catch the disease. Also, plague patients are typically very ill before they can transmit the germ to others. "There is no disease more susceptible to quarantine than plague," wrote the physician Wu Lien-teh, who helped break the Manchurian epidemics.

Influenza is entirely different. The virus spreads explosively. Coughing, sneezing, or even speaking launches flu particles in an aerosol cloud of tiny droplets, which can drift in the air for some distance. Physician and flu researcher Edwin Kilbourne, who worked with flu patients during the pandemic of 1957-58, points out that people with flu may shed the virus even before they know they're sick -- not much, but enough to transmit the disease. Worse, some 10 to 20 percent of flu patients have subclinical infections; they never look sick at all. Yet they can still spread infection. Faced with a flu pandemic, you'd hardly know where the disease was coming from.

How can you quarantine a disease like that? According to Kilbourne, you can't. "I think it is totally unreasonable on the basis of every pandemic we've had," says Kilbourne. "Every earlier pandemic seeded in multiple foci at the same time. Quarantine simply will not work."

Indeed, a strictly enforced quarantine could do more harm than good. Herding large numbers of possibly infected people together makes it likely that any influenza strain passed among them would actually increase in virulence. Usually, in order to spread, human flu germs need hosts mobile enough to walk around and sneeze on other people. Those flu strains so deadly that they kill or disable their hosts won't get the chance to spread and will die off. This keeps human flu virulence within bounds.

The signal exception is the 1918 flu, which acquired its extreme lethality, according to University of Louisville evolutionary biologist Paul W. Ewald, in the crowded and terrible conditions on the Western Front during World War I. Troops by the train and truckload were constantly being moved in and out of this petri dish, meaning a severely flu-stricken soldier didn't have to move much to infect others.

Suppose that a government official today decided to round up exposed people and move them to a space like the Superdome in New Orleans. It's unlikely that even a crowded Superdome could replicate the conditions on the Western Front. But, depending on how densely packed people were, you could expect the flu strain trapped among them to increase in virulence. You'd be breeding a deadlier flu.

If you let people walk around freely, only those strains mild enough to allow people to stay on their feet would spread easily.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bush logging

A Timeline of the Bush Administration's Pro-Logging Policies

Contrast this with evidence coming out of a trial in Portland, Oregon, concerning timber theft on a massive scale. According to internal documents from the US Forest Service, more than 10% of all trees cut off of the national forests are stolen, usually by timber companies that deliberately log outside the boundaries of timber sales offered by the agency. The annual toll involves hundreds of thousands of trees valued at more than $100 million.

The situation was so rife with theft and fraud that in 1991 Congress set up a Timber Theft Task Force to investigate tree stealing on federal lands. The ten-person team launched three probes: timber theft on the ground, accounting fraud, and complicity and obstruction of justice by Forest Service managers.

The team won an early victory. In 1993, the Columbia River Scaling Bureau, a supposedly independent accounting agency that measures and values timber logged off the national forests in Oregon and Washington, was convicted of fraud. The Bureau deliberately undervalued logs in return for kickbacks from timber companies. The firm was hit with a $3.2 million fine.

But this was just a tune up for much bigger fish, namely the largest privately-owned timber company in the world: Weyerhaeuser. The investigation was code-named "Rodeo." The task force had compiled evidence that Weyerhaeuser had illegally cut more than 88,000 trees off of the Winema National Forest in southern Oregon. The pilfered trees were valued at more than $5 million. Moreover, investigators suspected that managers in at least three different Forest Service offices had gotten wind of the investigation, tipped off Weyerhaeuser, destroyed documents and tried to silence agency whistleblowers.

As the investigation picked up steam in the spring of 1995, the head of the task force, Al Marion, traveled to Denver for a secret meeting with the chief of the Forest Service, Jack Ward Thomas, hand-picked for the position by Bill Clinton. Thomas, a wildlife biologist, had won the job after his role in spearheading Option 9, the infamous Clinton forest con job that restarted logging in the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Marion outlined the investigation for Thomas and Manny Martinez, his newly-appointed deputy for law enforcement. The lead investigator told Thomas that the evidence was compelling and that there would be a good probability of criminal convictions and recovery of large civil fines.

According to notes from the session taken by Martinez, Thomas told Marion that he would give his team "18 months to finish the cases" and promised them an additional $300,000 to pursue the investigation. In the next few weeks, the team developed new leads suggesting that Weyerhaeuser's tree theft was systematic and may have been occurring on three other national forests in the region. One estimate suggested that Weyerhaeuser might have been illegally logging more than 33,000 trees a month.

Most of the illegal logging done by Weyerhaeuser occurred in so-called salvage sales, where only dead and dying trees were meant to be cut. Instead, Weyerhaeuser crews, often operating at night, logged off thousands of healthy ponderosa pines and hauled them off to mills under cover of darkness.

On other occasions, timber theft investigators alleged, Weyerhaeuser crews logged off green trees in open daylight under the nose of Forest Service officials and then bundled the green trees in with stacks of dead lodgepole pines.

"They bundled the trees, sometimes 20 trees to a bundle," says Dennis Shrader, the lead investigator in the Rodeo case. "I estimated that as many as ten trees per bundle were green trees."

Yet, just as the task force was closing it on its culprits its work came to a crashing halt. Less than a four weeks after the Denver meeting with Jack Ward Thomas, Marion received a bizarre letter from the chief thanking him for his service and disbanding the task force immediately. The letter was hand delivered by Martinez.

Marion and his colleagues were out of a job. Thomas ordered their files seized and locked in a vault, where they remained for the next ten months. Marion retired rather than be relocated to West Virginia. Shrader, the head of the Weyerhaeuser investigation, was reassigned to a desk job in a storage closet in the Portland office of the Forest Service.

Why did Thomas pull the plug? It now seems evident that the order came directly from the White House in order to protect Weyerhaeuser executives, who were longtime friends and backers of Clinton, his chief of staff Mac McLarty and his top White House counsel Bruce Lindsay.

A Bunch of Shrubbish
Near Hood Canal, the Olympic National Park's border is surrounded by the Olympic National Forest. It's a prime spot to see what the National Forest Service has been doing for the past decade, and to compare it to what real, mature, old-growth forest inside the Olympic National Park looks like.

You can literally see the park boundary. You know the moment you've crossed it. The checkerboard of clearcuts alternating with match-stick trees disappears. Inside the park you can feel that you've entered a world that's alive. It's as if you've stepped onto the belly of a giant organism that's breathing, drawing in a slow, deep breath, the ground slowly, infinitesimally swelling beneath your feet. You wait and wait for the exhale, but it never comes, because the breath is still being drawn. It started centuries ago. It makes you feel small and insignificant--no more important than a bird or a beetle or a fish swimming in the Skokomish River.

It takes me back to being a child, and I love it.

In the national forest, however, such places are almost gone. Some popular hiking trails have been obliterated by clearcuts and road-building. The only mature forests--you can't really call them old growth, in comparison to the park's old growth--are left on steep mountainsides, difficult to log, and, in many cases, difficult to hike. They're lovely hikes, nevertheless--what little you can see of the trees as you sweat and strain and scramble upwards, only to be rewarded with a view that shows you just how bad the clearcuts really are.

When Bill Clinton signed the Salvage Logging Rider, it gave the Forest Service permission to "manage" our national forests to largely benefit commercial logging interests. Clearcuts continued unabated, and it was only the work of a few environmental groups suing in the courts and the direct action of environmental activists--those folks the Bush administration have wrongly labeled "ecoterrorists"--who slowed it down. The "thinning" that was done involved taking out the biggest, most commercially viable trees in a stand and leaving behind the small, toothpick trees behind.

Those tiny trees provide no shade to speak of, and so underbrush has multiplied, creating a choking, groundlevel brush that turns tinder-dry during a hot, dry summer like we've had this year. Contrast that with the mature forest in places like the Olympic National Park, where enormous, old-growth trees provide deep shade and the ground is largely bare (it can even be hard to find the trail sometimes, since the dirt path looks the same as the forest floor). Scratch the ground with the heel of your boot, and you find it moist. The air is damp and cool, mushrooms grow easily, and moss clings to the trees, even when the forest hasn't seen rain for over a month. But the forest still has the fog--heavy, dewy, shroud-like fog drawn off the water by the big trees themselves, as if they could summon a drink whenever they feel like it. While the sun burns that moisture right out of the shrubby land and spindly trees in the lower elevations, the national park's old-growth trees hold the moisture, and provide the best safeguard against fire of any kind.

So George W.'s argument that thinning trees off the national forests is bullshit. Such talk is code for "more clearcuts for my pals at Boise Cascade." They now want everything--big trees, little trees, even the stuff they used to consider trash. Anything to keep the mills running.

George W. understands forests about as much as he understands quantum physics. It's the thinning of mature trees over the past decade coupled with the clearcuts on public and private lands that have made this year's savage wildfires possible. George W. is not providing balm to the folks whose houses have been destroyed. No, he's lining his pocket with contributions from commercial logging interests.

As George W. stands in a burned-out area, kicking ash with the toe of his expensive cowboy boots, you can bet he's never seen a real rainforest. He doesn't have the time. His tour to Oregon and California is filled with million-dollar fundraising dinners for Republican candidates, all scheduled in quick succession to raise as much money as possible before the new, stricter campaign finance rules take effect. The camera bulbs flash, the TV screens flicker, the sound bites air, and the newspapers run his words verbatim without a hint of irony or question.

Meanwhile, the real story goes untold. Facts are not important. A spokesman from the Pacific Biodiversity Institute in Winthrop, Washington, does a little investigation of his own and finds that over the past decade, only 20% of the lands burned in wildfires was national forest land. The rest were private lands, tribal lands, and other types of public lands--and much of those were grasslands and areas covered in shrubs or other low-growing vegetation. This study has largely been ignored.

We better start paying attention, making noise, speaking the truth. We need to go out and see for ourselves what the Forest Service and commercial logging interests--the real ecoterrorists--have already done to our lands.

If we don't, our national forest lands could soon be reduced to shrublands, as the Shrub-in-Chief obviously intends.

Washington Post
"The Bush administration, in one of its biggest environmental decisions, moved yesterday to open nearly one-third of all remote national forest lands to road building, logging and other commercial ventures.

The 58.5 million acres involved, mainly in Alaska and in western states, had been put off limits to development by President Bill Clinton eight days before he left office in January 2001."

The Age
"A new regulation put forth by the Bush Administration this week would allow the building of roads in many of the most remote, pristine areas of the country's national forests and open them to logging and mining.

The policy change is aimed at so-called roadless areas - huge tracts of national forests that have been accorded protection because they have special ecological significance, such as harbouring headwaters of streams.

Affected are 23.7 million hectares of America's 77 million hectares of national forest, including 27,500 hectares of the 305,000-hectare Chattahoochee National Forest in northern Georgia."

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bush environment quotes

The first I'm sure made the "Bushisms" book, and the second I can actually forgive him for his self-serving ignorance. Otherwise I'll just end up breaking my computer monitor. I'd have some more from his appointees, but they seem to be elusive with their glossy vocabulary. BWAHAHAHA...

"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."
...George W. Bush

"We need to thin our forests in America."
—Bush, on the evil of forests, Aug. 11, 2003
Source: The Arizona Republic, "In Arizona, Bush Touts His Idea to Thin Forests," Aug. 12, 2003.

Bush environmental humor

'Healthy forests are empty forests'
President Bush's Healthy Forests initiative to eliminate tree scourge from national parks.
Bush gives one of his signature shit-eatin' grins to timber industry lobbyists after signing the initiative.

Washington, D.C.--Trees are a fire hazard and must be cut down, extolled President Bush as he signed his Healthy Forests initiative into law last week.

“We have to protect our national forests from those vengeful, tall, good smellin’ things called trees,” said President Bush. “At some point in our nation’s history, our public land became over run with elms, pine, maples, cedars and all other manner of trees. Well, it’s time to clear ‘em out and take the land back.”

The Healthy Forests Bill is the first major legislation over the country’s national forests in 30 years.

“And I’m the one who gets to make it,” Bush said.

The bill will increase the timber and brush that can be taken from public land and makes it easier to skirt the endangered species act.

“Imagine how safe all of our trees will be when there aren’t any left,” said Andrew Card, White House, Chief of Staff. Bush assured environmental groups that the program would only apply to underbrush and deadwood like the logs shown above.

Rep. Scott McInnis (R-Colo) who sponsored the house bill of the legislation said that the healthy forest initiative was long overdue.

“Many of my constituents have written saying that they can’t enjoy our national forests because trees block their view. Well, this will take care of that.”

Licking their chops, members of the timber industry that were at the signing, unveiled a “healthy forest thresher”, that would be able to cut down trees at ten times the rate of a normal chainsaw.

“The Healthy Forests act is a positive step for all of the Americans who have been clamoring to see our irreplaceable national forests gutted and logged,” said Lewis Donnybrook, President of Allied Timber Associates.

Sen. Ron Whydon (D-Ore) who backed the bill agreed.

“The signing of this bill shows what can happen when we put aside partisanship and cave into the Timber lobby,” he said.

Old growth forests in California, Washington, Montana and other western states will be exempted, if the trees are able to register with the National Forestry Department.
The president was so eager to get rid of the trees that he began clearing brush from a national forest in Virginia immediately following the signing ceremony. Killin' trees is Bush's favorite hobby.

“We wanted to give the trees a ‘voice’ so that all of the tree huggers would shut their yaps,” Card said.

Upon being told that trees could neither write nor move, Card said, “Well, I guess there won’t be very many that are exempted.”

Environmentalists expressed concerned about the scope of the bill.

“I don’t think that there are enough of us to sit in all of the trees that are going to be cut down,” said Larry Leo, president of the Montana Sierra Club.

A study done by the Center for Responsive Politics showed that the timber industry donated $14 million to political campaigns in the last three years. More than 80 percent has gone to Republicans.

“This law won’t prevent every fire but once we cut down all of the trees it will,” President Bush said.

The Onion
WASHINGTON, DC–Vowing to "restore the pristine splendor of America's natural treasures," President Bush Monday unveiled "Project: National Parks Clean-Up," an ambitious program to remove all toxic petrochemical deposits from national parks by 2004.

Alaska's Denali National Park, one of the many wildlife refuges temporarily closed by Bush (inset).

"Places like Yellowstone and Yosemite were once pure, unspoiled wilderness," Bush said at a White House press conference. "But over the course of the past 10 million years, we have allowed them to become polluted with toxic fossil-fuel deposits, turning a blind eye to the steady build-up of vast quantities of dangerous pollutants. It's time to end this terrible neglect."

Continued Bush: "A comprehensive survey of our parks, conducted by a team of top geologists specially commissioned by me, has discovered giant pockets of petroleum, coal, and other 'fossil poisons' beneath an alarming 38 percent of our national parks' surface area. Though a majority of these poisons are buried under several million tons of rock strata, should they ever seep to the surface and spread into the surrounding areas, they would spell disaster for the parks' precious ecosystems."

To underscore the severity of the crisis, Bush produced a chart illustrating survey results for Yellowstone National Park, where a "staggeringly huge" toxic-petroleum deposit was discovered.

"This amount represents the equivalent of 40,000 supertankers worth of oil," said Bush, gesturing toward a line on the chart. "To put the dangers into perspective, consider this: If these 'petro-poisons' should ever spill out into the park itself, the resulting environmental disaster would be 40,000 times worse than the damage caused by the wreck of the Exxon Valdez."

"We cannot allow such a thing to happen," Bush said. "We must remove this oil now, before it's too late."

An EPA oil-removal pump begins preliminary cleaning of Kings Canyon National Park in California.

Under the Bush plan, 7.2 billion tons of toxic petroleum would be removed by the target date of January 2004. Unlike other federal environmental clean-up initiatives, administration officials say the plan would pay for itself, offsetting costs through the sale of petroleum byproducts produced as a result of the clean-up process.

The clean-up, EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman said, may even prove profitable, a prospect that has attracted the participation of private industry. Already, many U.S. companies have expressed interest in lending assistance, and it is hoped that these companies will carry out much, or perhaps all, of the clean-up effort.

Though "Project: National Parks Clean-Up" represents Bush's first major environmental initiative since taking office, supporters are quick to point that he has been a longtime champion of petroleum removal.

"As governor of Texas, Bush fought tirelessly to protect the state's subterranean environment through a series of massive petrochemical-deposit clean-up projects," Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton said. "Under his governorship, more tons of petroleum-based subterranean environmental contaminants were removed in Texas than in all the national Superfund clean-up sites combined. The Democrats talk a good game about the importance of cleaning up the environment, but when it comes to actually eliminating the threat of enormous oil deposits lurking under the surface of our nation, no one can hold a candle to George W. Bush."

Thus far, reaction has been mixed. Some have said it is unrealistic for the president to try to remove so much petroleum so quickly. Others, such as Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH), have charged that the president is caving in to pressure from environmentalists, arguing that the government's energies would be better directed toward improving the military.

But despite such criticism, Bush stressed that the urgency of removing the oil deposits should take precedence over everything else.

"Nothing is more important than the legacy we leave future generations," Bush said. "The costs of this project pale in comparison to the importance of safeguarding our planet's ecosystem. Our primary mission must be to protect and foster our nation's most precious natural resource: oil. I mean, the environment."

Indy Media
Senator's bravery in the face of public opinion earns him award; new
Forest Service mascot unveiled

The Bush campaign is awarding its first annual "Healthy Forestry"
award to Senator Gordon Smith, R-OR, for finding a way to convert
19,000 acres of prized wilderness into a highly valuable tree farm.

Converting the partially burnt Siskiyou "roadless areas" to tree
farming, despite 70% public opposition to "old growth" logging, will
mean not only the creation of several dozen temporary jobs, but also
will guarantee that the area will never again be subject to "old
growth" and "roadless" restrictions, and will remain forever open to
logging regardless of public opinion.

Sen. Smith has announced that to make this happen, he will attach a
"rider" to a disaster relief or other "must pass" Senate bill,
requiring that the Siskiyou area be logged immediately and replanted
with thousands of timber trees, bypassing Nature's slow, inefficient,
and unprofitable process of recovery. The rider will also stipulate
that it "shall not be subject to judicial review by any court of the
United States"--thus preventing ecoterrorists from using the courts
to interfere with the health of the forestry industry. (See
for more information.)

Even some ecoterrorists acknowledge that burnt old-growth trees can
be hazardous to wildlife, as their rotting limbs can easily fall on
innocent elk or deer. But the agreement ends there. By stubbornly
refusing to let burnt old-growth forests build jobs, ecoterrorists
have made it increasingly difficult for the forestry industry to turn
a profit from America's last few bits of nonproductive landscape.

Sen. Smith was inspired in devising his rider by the earlier, 1995
"salvage rider," which for one year allowed virtually unregulated
logging to occur on wilderness lands throughout the Pacific Northwest.

By again moving the issue out of the courts, Sen. Smith's rider
suggests a way to bypass such opposition in a more permanent way: a
"rider" that will open not just one region, but the entire
federally-controlled National Parks System, for selective logging use.

The amount of useful acreage in Yellowstone and Yosemite alone, for
example, would more than equal the contested areas of the Siskiyou.
Such forests aren't quite as valuable to either the timber industry
or to ecologists as those in the Siskiyou, but logging our National
Parks would mean replacing many smaller, time-consuming local battles
with one bigger one more likely to be won.

To popularize this idea, the Bush campaign has unveiled a new mascot
for the USDA Forest Service: Smokey the Log. Smokey the Log is a
replacement for Smokey the Bear, as bears have no use and are
therefore not appropriate in the modern forest-use context. On a
recent canvassing tour, Smokey the Log collected numerous signatures
in favor of logging our National Parks
( and received
endorsements from Congressional Candidate Jim Feldkamp
( and former Oregon
governor Victor G. Atiyeh (

Bush cares about our National Parks?

As a conservationist/environmentalist, I'm constantly reminded by conservatives of the extremism that has taken over the cause. The luxury or bias of calling wacko environmentalists "anti-people" while those who show little to no proven record or regard for such as "anti-environment" are not. An oxymoron if I ever did see one. Because there is the continual conflict between environmental protections and economic development, I'm offering a basic hypothetical plan that some would regard as being rather insane. A perspective to the people who say that the Bush administration and citizens in general "of course!" believe in and care for environmental protections.

Our National Parks are the keystone or model of sustainability on the American landscape. They symbolize an environment that is [suppose to be] free from capital commodity, like logging. I've not even included National Forests because what is or isn't within law and land parameters is difficult to distinguish (let alone more revealing in volume of instances). But National Parks, assuming each state agrees on land dimensions, is special beyond compare to those otherwise targeted land resources.

The radical notion in my hypothetical is lets say National Parks should be protected to their fullest while allowing the remainder of the American landscape to be exploited for capital gain however the public and private sectors so choose. Lets take it a step further and say National Parks should be relooked at and shortened to allot only one park in each state that encompasses no more than 5 percent of that states land mass. No environmental regulations, no lawsuits, no questions over private property, nothing. Lets also assume the Bush administration is simply deregulating whats been overregulated by environmental policy. This way I'm not accusing him of any wrongdoings otherwise and am only focusing on his record with those keystone National Parks, and in a few minor instances, National Monuments and Rainforests. The point being: Is this not a deal served on a platter for big business economics? And would Americans unending consumption habits be met while granting my wishes of the tightest restrictions on National Parks usage (aka no expansion of sporting recreations)?

The data I'm presenting, which could have continued on even longer, shows in my mind the Bush administration really doesn't care about the environment much other than as a commodity. If the National Parks can be tapped into than nothing on the American landscape is off limits. And if Bush or his administration really do care about environmental protections, than it is in my opinion more of the "not in my backyard" mentality. My lifelong question to human consumption as always is: When is enough?

White House
President Bush's Initiative Against Illegal Logging

"... I've also ordered the Secretary of State to develop a new initiative to help developing countries stop illegal logging, a practice that destroys biodiversity and releases millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."
-President George W. Bush, Global Climate Change remarks, February 14, 2002.

What is Illegal Logging?

Illegal logging is generally understood to mean timber that is harvested, transported, processed or sold in contravention of a country's laws. Illegal logging destroys forest ecosystems, robs national governments and local communities of needed revenues, undercuts prices of legally harvested forest products on the world market, finances regional conflict and acts as a disincentive to sustainable forest management.

International trade in illegally harvested timber and timber traded in violation of Parties' obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) exacerbates the problem. Illegal logging is also a primary factor in the escalating African bush meat crisis, opening up vast areas to illicit hunting to feed loggers and for commercial sale in urban centers.

Underlying causes of illegal logging and related corruption are rooted in a lack of strong institutions based on democratic principles: rule of law, participatory and transparent decision-making, public accountability, clear land tenure and property rights and due process for dispute settlement.

The World Bank estimates that illegal logging results in annual losses in developing countries of $10-15 billion worldwide.
-A Revised Forest Strategy for the World Bank Group, October 2002

US Info
More than 270 million people visited the United States' national parks last year, inspired by their beauty and wildness. Our country's park system, once described as America's "best idea," includes 388 parks and encompasses some 34 million hectares, an area roughly the size of Germany. In addition, the United States has established 545 national wildlife refuges, protecting more than 36.4 million hectares to benefit wildlife, fisheries, and biodiversity. The government manages another 186 million hectares of protected land, including national forests, wilderness areas, and marine sanctuaries.

Defenders Action Fund
After five years as governor, George W. Bush left the state of Texas ranked 50th in air quality and 47th in water quality.

-The potential changes would allow cellphone towers and low-flying tour planes and would liberalize rules that prohibited mining, according to Bill Wade, former superintendent at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Larry Whalon, chief of resource management at Mojave National Preserve, said the changes would take away managers' ability to use laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act to oppose new developments in parks.

-The proposed changes would alter the definition of impairment from "an impact to any park resource or value [that] may constitute an impairment" to one that can be proved to "permanently and irreversibly adversely [affect] a resource or value." Critics say the new definition would set a standard that is impossibly high.

-He noted that seemingly obscure issues such as the requirement for maintaining a dark night sky and preserving quiet would no longer be emphasized.

-"We know how important these things are for animals," Galvin said. "Birds use the night sky to navigate and animals need to hear each other. This version, as I understand it, doesn't recognize the biological values of those things and it eliminates them as visitor amenities."

Voice Yourself
Most of us think of America's national parks as everlasting places, parts of the bedrock of how we know our own country. But they are shaped and protected by an underlying body of legislation, which is distilled into a basic policy document that governs their operation. Over time, that document has slowly evolved, but it has always stayed true to the fundamental principle of leaving the parks unimpaired for future generations. That has meant, in part, sacrificing some of the ways we might use the parks today in order to protect them for tomorrow.

Recently, a secret draft revision of the national park system's basic management policy document has been circulating within the Interior Department. It was prepared, without consultation within the National Park Service, by Paul Hoffman, a deputy assistant secretary at Interior who once ran the Chamber of Commerce in Cody, Wyo., was a Congressional aide to Dick Cheney and has no park service experience.

Within national park circles, this rewrite of park rules has been met with profound dismay, for it essentially undermines the protected status of the national parks. The document makes it perfectly clear that this rewrite was not prompted by a compelling change in the park system's circumstances. It was prompted by a change in political circumstances - the opportunity to craft a vision of the national parks that suits the Bush administration.

Some of Mr. Hoffman's changes are trivial, although even apparently subtle changes in wording - from "protect" to "conserve," for instance - soften the standard used to judge the environmental effects of park policy.

But there is nothing subtle about the main thrust of this rewrite. It is a frontal attack on the idea of "impairment." According to the act that established the national parks, preventing impairment of park resources - including the landscape, wildlife and such intangibles as the soundscape of Yellowstone, for instance - is the "fundamental purpose." In Mr. Hoffman's world, it is now merely one of the purposes.

Mr. Hoffman's rewrite would open up nearly every park in the nation to off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and Jet Skis. According to his revision, the use of such vehicles would become one of the parks' purposes. To accommodate such activities, he redefines impairment to mean an irreversible impact. To prove that an activity is impairing the parks, under Mr. Hoffman's rules, you would have to prove that it is doing so irreversibly - a very high standard of proof. This would have a genuinely erosive effect on the standards used to protect the national parks.

The pattern prevails throughout this 194-page document - easing the rules that limit how visitors use the parks and toughening the standard of proof needed to block those uses. Behind this pattern, too, there is a fundamental shift in how the parks are regarded. If the laws establishing the national park system were fundamentally forward-looking - if their mission, first and foremost, was protecting the parks for the future - Mr. Hoffman's revisions place a new, unwelcome and unnecessary emphasis on the present, on what he calls "opportunities for visitors to use and enjoy their parks."

There is no question that we go to national parks to use and enjoy them. But part of the enjoyment of being in a place like Yosemite or the Grand Canyon is knowing that no matter how much it changes in the natural processes of time, it will continue to exist substantially unchanged.

There are other issues too. Mr. Hoffman would explicitly allow the sale of religious merchandise, and he removes from the policy document any reference to evolution or evolutionary processes. He does everything possible to strip away a scientific basis for park management. His rules would essentially require park superintendents to subordinate the management of their parks to local and state agendas. He also envisions a much wider range of commercial activity within the parks.

Do you see what's going on here? The mindset of environmentalists is vastly different than those who accuse otherwise. Even though National Parks were intended for tourism, they were not intended to let the flood gates open to catering to groups interests and shaping them to meet every sporting interest. The intent was for visitors to appreciate them for what they are or "as is". My vision for the parks is rather utopian because of what is happening and will progress in the future on the remainder of the American landscape. I'm against snowmobile use because supporters ideal on the National Parks is not much different than the land in their backyard. If we allow snowmobiles, then jetskis, then skiing... what's next? The Park Service is being molded into an amusement park to meet the needs of the technological baby boomers. I'm offending the needs of the public. Well if you want skiing, go to Aspen, CO. Jet skis? Find a lake in your state. There's plenty of them.

As I've said before, you should be f'n lucky there's paved roads in the National Parks. If I'd had a vote in it, there would have been only dirt roads. I've had this debate before I'm tuning out minority groups needs. Well if the rest of the American landscape isn't off limits, including the areas that have been designated as worthy of protection, then are they not infringing on my rights to appreciate one of the last remnants of land that isn't conquered by human footprints? (You'll note that one of the only reasons why logging in National Forests is limited is because of environmental lawsuits.) I tell ya, it angers me so deeply I can hardly speak with people who disagree. We are of different dimensions.

Literal Politics
*Justice Will Not Defend Parkland: The Bush Justice Department has not and will not defend the government rule protecting 60 million acres of national parkland coveted by timber and oil companies. "The rule was three years in the making and involved 600 public hearings and 1.6 million public comments, most of them favorable....The sad truth is that the administration would like nothing better than a court order requiring it to rewrite the plan so as to accommodate the very development that Mr. Clinton — and the public — had hoped to prevent."

*Snowmobile Study: Bush has agreed to "more study" on the use of snowmobiles in Yellowstone Park, caving into the snowmobile manufacturers (that critical constituency). Clinton had ordered the phase-out of snowmobiles in the park based on public comments and pollution concerns.

*Snowmobiles in Yellowstone: The Interior Department proposes to backs off on regulations to phase out snowmobile use in Yellowstone Park. The vehicles are being phased out because the yahoos who want to ride them around the park were abusing the privilege, harassing wildlife and other visitors. Beginning in early 1998 and continuing through early 2001, tens of thousands of Americans participated in a public review of winter transportation problems in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. After 22 public hearings and more than 64,000 comments, a clear majority favored a National Park Service plan to phase out snowmobiles from both parks.

Sites where the Bush Environmental Disaster Brigade want to drill for oil:

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Great Lakes

Rocky Mountain National Park

Grand Teton and Yellowstone Parks

The Upper Missouri Breaks in Montana

Grand Staircase-Escalante monument in Utah

Vermillion Basin in northwestern Colorado

The Gulf of Mexico (despite protests from brother and Florida governor, Jeb Bush)

Wilderness Society
On taking office in 2001, Interior Secretary Gale Norton eagerly sought to reduce the protection for the national monuments created during the Clinton years. The president told reporters that he thought some of the monuments would be good places to drill for oil. These ideas received a cold response from citizens and the media, and Congress responded with legislation temporarily banning energy leasing within monument boundaries. (That protection lasts through 2004.) But the administration didn't stop taking shots at the national monuments-or the 26-million-acre National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) of which the monuments are a spectacular part. Until final management plans are issued for new monuments and other NLCS conservation areas (a process that is underway at many, but can take three to four years), their management is governed by interim guidelines-which the administration has been changing as they please with little oversight. These changes are allowing more road and power line construction under new rights-of-way regulations and more off-road vehicle use in sensitive areas. These monuments also are threatened by the Interior Department's policies on RS 2477 and wilderness designation (dealt with in other paragraphs).

Bush Environment
Bush administration opens national park to drilling (11/22/02)

US Senator Patrick Leahy
Drilling in national parks. On November 21, 2002, the Administration approved natural gas drilling in Padre Island National Seashore in Texas, the nation's longest stretch of undeveloped beach.

Environmental reviews. On November 15, 2002, the Administration announced it would attempt to make it easier to exempt from environmental reviews, activities that it sees as having an insignificant effect on national parks, national monuments, and other public lands.

Snowmobiles. On November 5, 2002, the Administration proposed to increase by more than 35 percent the number of snowmobiles allowed in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

WASHINGTON, DC, July 30, 2004 (ENS) – At least 23 national parks will be negatively impacted if the Bush administration enacts its proposed revision of the roadless rule, park advocacy groups said in a new report. The 23 parks are in 16 states – they include Mount Rainier, Olympic and Yellowstone National Parks.

The Bush plan introduced earlier this month would force states to petition the federal government to enforce the roadless rule, which currently bans roadbuilding and logging in some 58.5 million acres of remote and unspoiled public land.

In their report, "Collateral Damage: How the Bush Administration’s Repeal of the Roadless Rule Threatens National Parks," the advocacy groups say the parks directly at risk are visited by more than 40 million Americans each year – more than a third of all visits to U.S. national parks, monuments and parkways.

The proposal would turn "our national parks into front row seats for the destruction of our national forests," said Campaign to Protect America's Lands Director Peter Altman.

"Worse, the parks themselves will suffer from the collateral damage of timber clear-cuts, destroyed wildlife habitats and migratory corridors, streams destroyed by sediment, and the noise and stench of industrial development," Altman said.

About 20 percent of all roadless forest areas that could lose federal protection under the proposal either directly border or are near national parks and monuments, according to the report released by Altman’s group and the Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees.


On December 23, the Bush administration announced that they were revoking
roadless area protections from the Tongass National Forest. We need your
help in making sure that the Bush administration's decision is revealed for
what it was -- an outrageous gift to the timber industry.

This past summer when the Bush administration proposed to exempt the Tongass
National Forest from the landmark Roadless Area Conservation Rule and sought
the public's input, more than a quarter of million comments were delivered
to Forest Service. Nearly unanimously Americans opposed removing protections
from the Tongass which contains the world's largest remaining tracts of
coastal temperate rainforest. Less than one percent of the comments received
by the Forest Service favored exempting the Tongass from the Roadless Rule.

Instead of listening to the public's opposition to their plan to exempt the
Tongass from the Roadless Rule, the Bush administration chose to listen
instead to their allies in the timber industry.

Endangering Our Nat'l Parks
-The government has already spent $16 million on the outsourcing study, to which they will add another estimated $110 million over the next three years, according to a CPAL report. Note that that's not $16 million spent on doing the outsourcing itself; just on the study to see what privatization might save. The conclusions that these very well-paid contractors came to: privatization could save taxpayers a whopping $600,000. Subtract that from the $16 million spent on the study, and total net cost to the taxpayer: $15.4 million.

- "I will ensure that the federal government meets its responsibilities by devoting $5 billion to eliminate the backlog in maintenance and improvements at our national park." Wouldn't it be nice if a president said that?

Well one did—or at least he said it on his road to the White House. It was part of a stump speech George W. Bush gave on Oct 27, 2000, less than two weeks before the election.

Bush's team came up with $5 billion figure from the 1998 General Accounting Office estimate that, in addition to the regular annual costs to run America's National Parks, monuments, historic structures, and trails, it would take and extra $4.9 billion just top fix the crumbling facilities at parks and national monuments. This is called the backlog.

Bush crows that he's taken care of 900 backlog projects to the tune of $2.9 billion. Wouldn't that, too, be nice? Too bad it's a lie.

Of that $2.9 billion supposedly spent on the backlog, only "roughly $200 million to $300 million" was money spent above and beyond the regular maintenance costs according to Deputy Park Service Director Donald Murphy in his testimony before Congress last July. The remaining $2.6 billion or so was just regular park spending, not the backlog.

And those 900 projects supposedly addressed actually number 840, according to the Campaign to Protect America's lands. Fine, I won't quibble over the Administration's rounding up by 60. The problem is, the vast majority of those weren't backlog projects, but rather emergency ones (safety repairs, raw sewage cleanup and the like).

Sustainability Institute
The Environment President Whittles Away the National Parks

One of the many performance records George Bush would rather we didn't focus on between now and the coming election is the degradation under his stewardship of our national lands.

The operating principles of the Bush and Reagan administrations are being revealed by an increasing number of National Park Service and Forest Service employees who have been given orders to allow private abuses of public lands, and who have resisted. Consequently they have been defamed, transferred, or fired. Now they are telling their stories in public.

One of the most impressive of these whistleblowers is Lorraine Mintzmyer, former director of the Rocky Mountain Region of the National Park Service. Last April she retired after 32 years in the Park Service, to avoid further "punishment and humiliation." A month later she delivered a speech at Yellowstone that has been reverberating in environmental circles ever since.

Picture a doughnut, said Mintzmyer, the hole being a national park, the doughnut being a ring of surrounding public land. For example, Yellowstone Park consists of 2.2 million acres in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, part of an ecosystem of 18 million acres, 80 percent of which is owned by you, me, all of us.

Mining, energy development, logging, grazing, housing are forbidden or strongly regulated in the park, less so in the doughnut. There are twelve thousand mining claims, for example, in the greater Yellowstone area. One of them is two miles northeast of the park border and calls for two open-pit mines, one underground mine, a mill, a tailings pile, and a cyanide leach system. Near another edge of the park a new-age group called the Church Universal and Triumphant has bought a former ranch of Malcolm Forbes and is planning a geothermal development. (In every part of the world where geothermal energy has been tapped, it has PERMANENTLY destroyed nearby active geysers.)

Just as the Reagan and Bush administrations failed to regulate the banking industry, so they failed to regulate the private interests who want access to valuable public resources. "There is simply too much taking," says Mintzmyer. "The parks are being choked to death by the actions of ... special interests and their political patrons.... Water-borne wastes flow out of the doughnut into the parks, the winds carry noxious chemicals out of the doughnut and into the parks."

"Each user of that doughnut seeks just one little favor from a congressman every few years, wants the Department of the Interior to loosen up one little law, or writes to the president and asks him to kill just one little document. In the end, they are slowly destroying our parks."

One of the casualties of the steady corruption has been information. Reports are falsified or buried. Mintzmyer says, "It is impossible to know whether the base-level data were tinkered with.... Any study after 1983, and definitely after 1988, must be suspected of being scientifically or professionally unreliable."

There is nothing new about politicians helping friends to raid commonly owned wealth. What is new in the past decade is the weakening of the federal agencies charged with preventing that from happening. Says Mintzmyer: "The politicians, congressmen, and executives have ... taken over the upper parts of the agency.... There is no longer any abiity on the part of the agency to protect its lower level people. They can be targeted and neutralized without real resistance."

The Forest Service is a main target. Clearcuts in the Targhee National Forest go right up to the border of Yellowstone Park, creating a straight-line edge that can be seen from outer space. Logging in many national forests is proceeding at rates well above the sustainable cuts mandated by law. Overcutting, hidden by what one Wilderness Society spokesman calls "a carefully orchestrated Forest Service coverup," is now coming to light in forest after forest.

Handouts to logging companies cost us not only our forests, their wildlife, and their protection of water tables and streams, but also our tax money. The Forest Service charges below-market fees for timber concessions and obligingly builds logging roads at public expense. The network of federal logging roads is now longer than the interstate highway system -- 6600 miles, with another 900 planned. The Forest Service earns from timber concessions 34 cents for every dollar it spends supporting loggers. In the Yellowstone area in 1990 it lost $12.6 million.

Mintzmyer: "A bunch of special interest people ... meet with three or four congressional delegations, ... get the assistant secretaries from two agencies to attend, ... have no invitations, nothing in writing, no minutes, no notes.... It's done on the phone, in closed, private meetings, and over lunch."

There is also a direct channel through the president's Council on Competitiveness, chaired by Dan Quayle, which exists to waive federal regulations for select corporations. The Council refuses to release information about its operations, even to Congress.

In her speech Lorraine Mintzmyer listed measures to protect the national lands, including proper accounting for economic and ecological losses, and a "sunshine act" that would forbid private meetings between influence peddlers and special interests.

The best protection, of course, would be to elect a chief executive who implements the law, as he is constitutionally bound to do -- and who is not inclined to give away public assets for private benefit.

(Donella H. Meadows is an adjunct professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Americans conserved at the gas pump?

I couldn't find a great deal of information that highlighted this, so if you have links to more please let me know. It suggest however the frustration from a conservation standpoint and how Americans consumption appetite is without end. I assumed Americans would've conserved gas over falls high prices to help encourage the price market shift downward. In fact, it was the opposite, and one that is a disappointed criticism directed at Americans in general.

Contra Costa Times
As overall gasoline consumption has increased despite record prices, premium fuel has taken a hit. Nationwide, daily volume of high-octane gasoline sold in the first nine months of this year fell 6.4 percent from the same period last year, while purchases of mid-grade gasoline dropped 3.6 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration, an arm of the Energy Department. The volume of regular gasoline sold rose 4.3 percent.

Mercury News
Driving habits haven't changed as gas prices rise, then drop
Q I think gas prices will have to go a lot higher ($5-plus) to see a significant shift from driving alone to taking transit.
A Sadly, you may be right.

Q The price of gas didn't affect my driving a bit. And with that four-lane from Gilroy to San Jose and back -- 85 all the way, baby!
A The gas tank has hit empty.

Environmental leaps of faith and science

Theocracy Watch:God hates environmentalists

Sirico turns the environmental movement's notion of stewardship on its head. A January 2000 report in The Daily Camera noted that as far back as 1994, in a much-circulated piece written for the National Review, Father Sirico "question[ed] the motives and hinting at the perhaps-unconscious pagan nature of the creation care movement [pro-environmental religious]. He argues that true Christians believe that the earth is a 'gift from God for our use' and that nature has no intrinsic value beyond utility." Sirico wrote, "There is no commandment against polluting or mixing trash - that is taken care of by civil law - but there is a very straightforward one about worshipping false idols."

Though the American public overwhelmingly believes there should be environmental protections. It could be said that environmental protections are a reflection of human nature because of their connotative spiritual and philosophical values. Father Sirico has a faith and spiritual belief in a god but noone in what the Creator created (environment). Somehow this doesn't seem to be an accurate or honest telling of scripture and conflicting with The Bible's writing of humans as caretakers of the environment.

Dr. Richard Land, President-Treasurer of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and author of the book, "The Earth is the Lord's," agrees with vice president Dick Cheney that the United States must increase energy production unless it wants a substantial reduction in the lifestyle of most Americans. Focus on the Family's CitizenLink reports that Land commented by quoting scripture: "In Genesis, chapter 2, God told Adam that He put him in the garden to 'till it' and to 'keep it.' The word 'keep' means to guard and protect; the word 'till' means to cause it to be developed and to cause it to give forth its fruit.'"

For years, Religious Right groups have anchored their views on environmental issues in Genesis 1:28. "Because nature is wild," explains Nina George Hacker in Concerned Women for America's Family Voice, "we [humans] were given the authority to 'subdue' it for life's necessities." In past years, this reading of the Bible frequently left the Religious right open to charges that they were justifying the raping, plundering, and stripping of the earth's resources. In the Bush era this belief serves the agenda of the right-wing think tanks and oil interests who designed Bush's energy extraction extravaganza.

I can almost say with certainty that this person lives in or near a metropolitan area. If there's one thing I've learned: I don't trust environmental visions coming from city people who do not live amongst or visit dense nature. The Wise Use movement (my interpretation being a little different), which knows nothing of the environment, still champions themselves as knowing what's best for the. A backwards notion when you consider 'to appreciate nature, humans must be amongst nature'.

Theocracy Watch
One of their latest efforts involves Valle Vidal, a part of the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico, which the Bush administration and the energy industry want opened to coal-bed methane development. The "Yellowstone of the southern Rockies" was given to the nation by Pennzoil in 1982 on condition it be managed as a wildlife habitat. It is currently home to the largest elk herd in New Mexico. But who cares? As Dobson and Bush believe, "God put human beings on the earth to 'subdue it' and to 'have dominion' over the animals."

Grist: Interview with Department of Interior's Lynn Scarlett
Q: What is your response to critics' concerns about ties to industry within the Bush administration? Is it fair to assume that a longtime history as an industry lobbyist -- say, in the case of Steven Griles -- indicates a bias?

A: If you actually look at the people this president has appointed, they represent a broad array of backgrounds as public-sector lawyers, think-tank analysts, and some have backgrounds working with companies. What we see in the media is that people's backgrounds are weighted heavily toward industry, and that's not a true reflection of the mix of appointees. And those people who do have backgrounds with the private sector, that's a good thing, because that gives them substantial management backgrounds and knowledge. The problem is that many of the critics have looked very selectively and focused only on those in industry, and said "A-ha! This is evidence of a uni-dimensional perspective."

Q: But many of those with industry backgrounds are in the highest-level positions making huge and far-reaching decisions, including your bosses, Gale Norton and Griles. Not to mention the president and vice president.

A: The idea that somehow the ideas that someone has are simply a reflection of who they worked for -- as opposed to having some other knowledge base and framework -- is a mistake. It's a very simplistic notion to assume that the world is made up of some abstract group called industry that has, lock, stock, and barrel, the same policy perspectives on any issue. Just as it would be a mistake to say everyone who holds dearly environmental values -- whether they're from The Nature Conservancy or the Natural Resources Defense Council or Ducks Unlimited -- hold the same perspective on everything.

I usually prefer decisions that better the environment be made by people with records in environmental fields, not industry. This is the most elementary understanding of hiring people FOR the environment, and suffice to say is lipstick service.

Logging Old Growth Forests to Stop Global Warming
This afternoon I attended a briefing entitled "Implementation of the Kyoto Protocol in Russia: Current Status and Outlook," sponsored by a Moscow-based outfit called the National Carbon Sequestration Foundation.

One of the speakers was an official with the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia who suggested that the use of forests as carbon sinks would be a critical part of Russia's efforts to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions and the key to any future negotiations.

That wasn't the interesting part, however.

Unless the translator got things horribly wrong, the official said that part of Russia's strategy for reducing net carbon dioxide emissions would be to begin significant new logging operations in remote parts of Russia. The rationale is that older trees emit greenhouse gases while younger trees consume them. The wood fiber would then be used to meet some of Russia's energy needs.

Yes, he's talking about logging old growth forests.

The Sierra Club must love these guys.

And, speaking of environmental organizations, the Ministry official was asked why it is that the Russian government has been sharply restricting the activities of foreign-based environmental organizations within Russia.

His response was something like this: It's not that we think that the activities of foreign environmental groups should be limited, but that we have a sufficient number of groups with the expertise on these issues domestically.

Only in the former Soviet Union.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

National Parks report

Nope. I was wrong about teaching land conservation. It has to be taught on a broad scale level for the Nat'l Parks to be protected themselves. (The doom & gloom forecast is there in trouble then via the technology interest age. I know. A little predictable on that conclusion.)

The second link makes for a theory of mine: Sure, people should care about National Parks protections. But doesn't more visitors create more park problems?

Alternative Journal
The second weakness in Searle's analysis is his tendency to focus too narrowly on national parks rather than recognizing that conservation is something that must play across the whole Canadian landscape. Of course, because of their fundamental mandate for ecological integrity, national parks must demonstrate the highest standard of conservation practice. But if Canada puts all its hopes for biodiversity conservation and ecological health into the tiny four percent of our land mass that is enclosed in national park boundaries, we simply have no hope. I found myself frustrated from time to time by the degree to which Searle's vision seemed to be confined inside park boundaries. Fundamentally, all land is sacred. National parks should not necessarily be treated as more sacred; they should be the places where we study to understand the sacredness of our native land, and then take those insights home with us. If Canadians fail to sustain Canada, no amount of protection will sustain our parks.

Camping Trips Decline in some National Parks;
Boomers to Blame
Tourism experts say the Baby Boomers' preference for cushier vacations, including traveling by recreational vehicle (RV), is contributing to a decline in campers, RVers and other visitors at national parks nationwide.

According to an Associated Press report, Maine's Acadia National Park saw annual visitation fall 15% from 1999 to 2004. Only 72,000 people camped out there last year, a drop of 22% in the past decade. Nationwide, camping at national parks fell 12% between 1999 and 2004.

The aging population is just part of the reason, said Jim Gramann, a professor at Texas A&M University and the visiting chief social scientist for the National Park Service. Other factors include hectic lifestyles, competing recreational options, an uncertain economy, a drop in international visitors, shorter vacations and even an increase in ethnic populations unfamiliar with the park system.

"As people get older they may stop visiting parks for health reasons or because they've already been, and the younger visitors who are more technologically sophisticated and who have grown up in a digital environment may not be attracted," he said. "People are asking 'Do you have wireless in your campground?'"

Boomers are opting for recreational vehicles, dude ranches and lodges. They're also taking amenity-filled vacations on cruise ships and buying vacation homes near the beach or mountains, said Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition in Washington, D.C.

The declines don't mean the parks are deserted. There were 276.9 million visits to the National Park System last year.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee reported the following visits:

* Total Recreation Visits for FY 2004- 9,205,037
* Total Recreation Visits for FY 2003- 9,189,543
* Total Recreation Visits for FY 2002- 9,215,812

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a wildlands sanctuary preserving the world's finest examples of plant and animal diversity in a temperate deciduous forest. This wild landscape, rich with traces of its human past, calls visitors back again and again.

Much of the Smokies can be enjoyed from your vehicle and from accessible facilities and programs. Activities range from viewing scenery to exploring the intricacies of the forest floor to learning about the resourceful people who made a living from this wilderness.

Auto Tours - The park's backroads offer a chance to escape traffic and explore remote areas. A road guide and self-guided auto tour booklets are available for several popular, and a few quieter destinations in the park including Cades Cove, Newfound Gap Road, Roaring Fork, Tremont, and Cataloochee.

Trails - Most trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are steep and rugged. However, a new accessible trail made possible through a public-private partnership is located on Newfound Gap Road, just south of Sugarlands Visitor Center. Accessible interpretive exhibits located along the one-half mile paved trail describe the unique historic and natural features as the trail winds through second growth forest along the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River. Clay tactile exhibits, a large print brochure, and porcelain enamel wayside exhibits are available on site. Look for the tracks of a black bear that wandered across the freshly poured concrete when the trail was built!

Visitation is down sharply in Maine's rugged North Woods, a region that has drawn people for decades to climb Mount Katahdin, fish for trout and salmon, hunt deer and moose, and camp. And people who do visit the North Maine Woods aren't staying as long, said Al Cowperthwaite, whose organization handles camping reservations for the region. "People still like to have a remote experience, but they want to do it in three days and be back home connected to the Internet and their cell phones that are ingrained in our society these days," Cowperthwaite said. That's especially true for kids, said Butch Street, who runs the National Park Service's statistics office. "These kids are looking for high-powered stuff, and the idea of watching a sunset is boring for them," Street said. "I don't think they understand that the idea is to give your mind a break."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Edward Abbey on National Parks

Abbey did quite a bit of good for people environmentally in his book Desert Solitaire, and radical, destructive, and vandalistic in The Monkey Wrench Gang. On the National Parks issue though, I couldn't agree with him more. First roads for cars. Now snowmobiles. What next? An airport?

(Added later)

My whole point being is when is enough? The purpose of National Parks to my understanding was to appreciate them for what they are and not as a place that accomodates every groups interest. I don't mean to sound utopian, but that is my concern even if it means being such.

What Nat'l Parks say to me is this is an area of land we people have designated as something special, even more monumental than other landscapes in America. These are the one areas that humanity isn't above nature, but nature above humanity. These are areas that will be left in their natural state. Why? Because every other known area of land on the American landscape is open to some type of human footprint being left. You as citizens should feel fortunate and blessed paved roads are allowed so we can visit and appreciate them with modern conveniences like the automobile. Now snowmobiles? See that all the time in my geograph. How about skiing? I can get that in Aspen. What the f'n hell is this?! The Olympics or something where every sport imaginable (including the conjured up ones) is needing representation.

I just got done talking with a dear friend on this matter. He always makes me think twice about my environmental beliefs because he said why is my way of thinking better than anyone elses? Well, it isn't. But my counter suggestion to humanity is we already have a say, a footprint left on every other piece of American landscape. If their logging in National Parks and Forests, what's next? I guess my friend was right in the sense accomodations can be made to an extent with each group, but something inside me tells me Edward Abbey was right regarding "industrial tourism." The more it is made into an "amusement", the more the spiritual and philosophical principles fade. To me the park system should be appreciated "as is", not shaped into the varying people interests for money generation. The rest of the American landscape is already largely viewed as a commodity.

On Development in the National Parks
There are some who frankly and boldly advocate the eradication of the last remnants of wilderness and the complete subjugation of nature to the requirements of -- not man -- but industry. This is a courageous view, admirable in its simplicity and power, and with the weight of all modern history behind it. It is also quite insane. I cannot attempt to deal with it here.
"Industrial Tourism and the National Parks'' in Desert Solitaire

A Proposal for the National Parks
No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs -- anything -- but keep the automobiles and the motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out. We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Let us behave accordingly.
"Industrial Tourism and the National Parks' in Desert Solitaire

Friday, December 09, 2005

Global Warming: + History, - Technobabble

Finally! Something I can understand! Though still ignorant of what the real truth is...

Human Events

Global Warming Is Real, So Get Over It
by Richard Lessner
Posted Dec 5, 2005

Global warming is a reality. It’s an observable, measurable, empirical, scientific fact. Let’s all say it together: “Prince Charles, Ted Turner, Al Gore -- you’re all right! The climate is getting hotter.”

Yes, the Earth is warming, but human activity has nothing to do with it. The Earth’s climate has been growing warmer since the end of the last Ice Age, around 10,000 years ago, long before the internal combustion engine, Exxon, SUVs, Halliburton, Democrat congressmen, or other alleged human sources of so-called greenhouse gasses.

The problem with the global warming fear-mongers is their utter lack of historical or geophysical perspective. They’re not unlike Charlie Brown’s sister Sally, who opened a Sunday school essay: “In Church History, it’s important to start at the beginning. Our pastor was born in . . .” For the global warming crowd, the history of the Earth’s climate apparently began the day they were born and any deviation from their lifetime’s experienced “norm” is met with arm-waving, garment-rending, hair-on-fire hysterics. Every hurricane, heat wave, drought, or snow storm is loudly boomed as nature lashing out and striking back at industrial society.

When the climate doomsayers point to North America’s receding glaciers, for example, as evidence of human-induced global warming, they conveniently neglect to observe that 12,000 years ago everything from Wisconsin and Massachusetts north to the pole was covered by a mile-thick sheet of ice. Canada was one vast hockey rink. The retreat of the ice sheet opened a corridor for Siberians to migrate into North America by walking across the Bering land bridge. As the ice caps melted due to global warming the ocean level rose hundreds of feet. Vast coastal areas disappeared under rising seas, submerging the land bridge beneath the Bering Sea and cutting off Asia from America, along with its human and animal populations.

Where once polar bears frolicked in what today is central Illinois, the bruins now have skedaddled along with the glacial ice sheets to Hudson’s Bay. Was this a disaster for the bears? Hardly. It’s all part of the normal climatic cycle of global warming and cooling that has been taking place for several million years. Animals and humans long since have learned to adapt to such climate changes, some of which occurred with startling rapidity. The onset of an Ice Age can occur in as short a span as a few decades, and periods of warming can unfold just as suddenly. So an increase of a degree or two over a century, as the meeting of the climatically challenged in Montreal this week predict, is scarcely cause for panic.

Among scientists it’s hotly debated why about 3 million years ago the Earth suddenly entered into an extended cycle of advancing and retreating Ice Ages each lasting from 40,000 to100,000 years. By contrast, during the 100 million year-long Age of the Dinosaurs, the planet was very much warmer than it is today. While T Rex roamed present-day Montana looking for a tasty Hadrosaurus to dine on, the Earth had no polar ice caps at all.

Some scientists now believe the current cycle of Ice Ages was triggered when the tectonic plate carrying the India subcontinent crashed into Asia, thrusting up the Himalayas and disturbing the global air currents that control the weather. Other climatologists have detected a relationship between the relative brightness of the sun and Earth’s climate. The sun goes through lengthy cycles of sunspot activity, and the changing amount of solar radiation reaching our planet has an enormous influence on climate, many times greater than any imaginable human industrial activity. Moreover, our entire solar system oscillates up and down, above and below the plane of the Milky Way, over a period of 600,000 years in a galactic waltz that may influence the global climate. Volcanic eruptions also dramatically alter Earth’s climate. A single large eruption can lower the global temperature by several degrees. The 1815 eruption of Tambora in Indonesia produced “a year without summer.” Some really huge eruptions have been big enough to spark a new Ice Age.

Human beings, afflicted with temporal myopia, habitually view their immediate circumstances as “normal” and look upon any departure from the perceived “norm” as abnormal, something extraordinary to be feared. But in fact, even over the relatively brief course of human history the climate has undergone significant change. A centuries-long period of unusually warm weather called the Medieval Optimum lasted from A.D. 900 to A.D. 1300. During this period agriculture flourished and populations boomed. England rivaled France in wine production. Vikings colonized North America.

Beginning around 1350, however, the Earth was plunged into the Little Ice Age that stretched into the middle of the 19th Century. Crops failed, famine and disease swept Europe. American newspapers, journals and diaries of the 17th and 18th centuries routinely recorded bitterly cold winters (much colder than those of the 20th Century), prodigious blizzards, and northern rivers freezing solid. The Little Ice Age drove the Viking colonies out of Greenland and Newfoundland. The Thames and the Hudson froze solid. Remember Washington’s heroic crossing of the ice-choked Delaware in December 1776 to attack the Hessians at Trenton? We’re still warming up from this mini-Ice Age and doing just fine, thank you.

The global warming militants persist in talking about “normal” and “abnormal” weather. But there is no such thing as “normal” climate. The Earth’s climate is constantly changing, heating up and cooling down. Sea levels rise and fall. Polar caps advance and retreat.

Our planet’s atmosphere is an incredibly dynamic and complex engine the intricate workings of which we only dimly understand. Since climatologists cannot agree what caused the sudden onset of the Ice Age cycle, computerized predictions about what the climate will be in future decades are simply guesswork dressed up to appear scientific. A single large volcanic eruption, another Krakatoa for instance, can reverse all the data and institute a period of global cooling, as such events have repeatedly done in our not too distant past.

Super volcanoes, mega-earthquakes, tsunamis, enormous landslides, Ice Ages, sudden changes in climate, ever meteor impacts – all these things are normal, if infrequent, events in our planet’s physical history. They only appear unusual because their period of occurrence tends to exceed the typical human lifespan. Hence when they do occur they appear unnatural or extraordinary, like last December’s tsunami in the Indian Ocean or this year’s hurricanes. Once people blamed such natural events on devils or demons; now we blame Big Oil and the family mini-van.

Mr. Lessner is a senior associate at Capital City Partners, a Washington consulting firm. He is the former executive director of the American Conservative Union and editorial pager editor of The Union Leader of Manchester, N.H., and holds a doctorate in history from Baylor University.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Revisiting 'Dennis Prager on the environment' part 3

I remember a quote Dennis Prager once said about the worlds values: They are backwards. For example, people who are anti-war and fighting terrorism eventually breed more evil because they do not defeat it when the chance is available. There are many other examples Prager used that I cannot think of off the top of my head. The irony for me is Prager's ideology on the environment appears to be caught in that same cycle of backwardness found in my two articles (1, 2). In detail, those who believe in a Creator naturally have to believe natures design came from the same Creator. Being Dennis' tone in his criticisms of nature worship appear to want his readership to not place value on nature other than as a human commodity, is it not backwards for a religious man to hold a spiritual value to a Creator but not for what the Creator created (nature)?

For the Right the opposition is in opposing a leftist ideal while right and wrong take a backseat. Another backwardness from my perspective can be found in todays conservative ideals being opposite to a Republican man by the name of Teddy Roosevelt who was once the creditor of placing protections on National Parks and Forests. Because to be "conservative" is also to be a "conservationist." They go hand-in-hand. And now it is the Left who are the conservatives and conservationists on the environment. The key operative as I've said before is the passion is overwhelmingly on the Left's side. "Antienvironment" is a word I chose to not use because of how the Left can overheighten its meaning. However, I'm not in total disagreement. The Right's disdain for the Left is so great it has carried over into their outlook on the environment. It is viewed as an economic commodity, and any other view, particularly spiritual, is viewed as leftist drivel. The Right are so focused on adamently being against the Left, they've lost touch with the philosophical idea of wanting to protect nature like Roosevelt envisioned. Because it actually benefits humanity. Consumption in the form of technology in America is held at such high a premium value, it is no wonder those who feel a connection to nature are accused of being granola-munching nuts. There really is no plan for the environment in developing nations either. No outline to set aside protections for Nat'l Parks and Forests while allowing the bulk of the remainder of the American landscape to be open to business. Being some of these areas are already logged in, I find that to be a pretty good but sad indicator of what America thinks of our Nat'l monuments and heritages.

After three years of conservative radio, I've come to realize the Right basically believe they are always, well, right. In other words, extremism or excessiveness always exist in the Left, but never in themselves. It is rather backwards again for the conservative party to be choffing at those who believe we need environmental protections. Because when the REP's (Republicans for Environmental Protection) President Martha Marks endorsed Robert Devine's (a Democratic supporter) book, Bush Versus the Environment, I knew that was rather odd and telling. She said:

It is unfortunate that a book like this needed to be written, but it truly did; I wish it were not so. I recommend it to all those who believe, as I do, that protecting this beautiful planet we call home should not be a partisan affair.


Throught it all, the one small principle of satisfaction I have is knowing the Prager's of the world, no matter how hard they try to seperate God from Nature, can never be above it. Natural resources are in our clothing, our computers, the vehicles we drive. It is even in more visible abundance in city's everywhere in the form of trees to clean the air. No matter how hard agendas are pushed to exploit it, nature will still always be there. That while some agendas are trying to impress that it can be removed from our conscious, our subconscious will always at some point or another gravitate back to nature in the form of amongst other things, the need for a walk to revitalize. Even in the metropolitan areas where dense nature is scarce, it isn't pavement and buildings that calms and makes us whole again, it is the planted trees on the boulevard and blue sky or sparkling twilight.

Unlike the religious Dennis Prager, I can thank God for that.


[As a side note, I've played this game in my mind where maybe the Bush administration would be consider the robber barons (or positive description if you believe they are simply unregulating what's been overregulated) of yesteryear for profits while Teddy Roosevelt as Robin Hood for the principle of returning land to Indians. Oh well. Tuche.]


Outlook 4/9/01
By John Leo
An unnatural stand
Why don't conservatives care about saving the planet?

After a speech I gave to a conservative group in New York, a man rose and asked: Didn't I think all the alarm about global warming was just another example of the politically correct agenda of the left? I said no, the evidence of a drastic warming trend seemed overwhelming to me. I missed the opportunity to say that the "no consensus on warming" crowd now sounds a lot like the tobacco lobby arguing that the link between smoking and lung cancer has not yet been established. Even without this observation, the questioner deemed my response incorrect. So he asked again to give me a fresh chance to get things right. I said I didn't understand why social conservatives are generally hostile to environmental concern. Shouldn't conserving come naturally to conservatives?

Apparently not. Economic conservatives, for whom the Wall Street Journal is the primary spokesman, are dismissive of most environmentalism. When President Bush announced he would not abide by the Kyoto protocol calling on America to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the Journal hailed him for "refusing to bow before the environmentalist holy of holies." Derisive references to environmentalism as a quasi religion of the softheaded tend to play well among social and religious conservatives, who generally don't respond to arguments from big business. These references remind all conservatives that the most extreme environmentalism does look a bit like an ersatz Earth religion, with humans as the poisonous intruders who shouldn't be here. But why do social and religious conservatives so often fall in line with business executives who dismiss all environmentalists as wackos?

Hippie horror. One reason is that environmentalism rose out of the same 1960s agitation that social conservatives believe was so ruinous to the general culture. Some environmentalists give the impression that the movement is simply part of the left, thus managing to alienate potential supporters on the right. This is a major strategic mistake, but an understandable one, given the hostility to the environment that Republicans have exhibited over the past 20 years. And issues of class are a factor, too. Environmentalists tend to be well-off, with the luxury of worrying about the snail darter and the state of the global environment in 2050. When a candidate like Al Gore appears, it is relatively easy for Republicans to connect the dots and associate environmentalism with elite Democratic stances that appall so many conservatives. The result is that on every level, the party with the most social conservatives contains the fewest environmentalists. In Congress, the most notable Republican effort in this field is attaching antienvironmental riders to appropriations bills. Martha Marks, head of REP America, refers to herself as "the president of what a few jokers have called the world's funniest oxymoron: Republicans for Environmental Protection."

The absence of a meaningful environmental constituency explains why it was so easy for the new administration to back off the Kyoto agreement and support drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and (ominously) other wilderness areas. The undermining of Christie Todd Whitman as head of the Environmental Protection Agency apparently began early. Word came she was known around the White House as "Brownie," a sarcastic reference to President Clinton's EPA chief, Carol Browner, who was predictably unpopular among many big-name Republicans. Is this a show of contempt for Whitman, her agency, or both?

Republican antienvironmentalism dates only from the Reagan years. As opinion rose against big government and heavy regulation, particularly in the West, environmental protection was demonized as a symbol of Washington's overbearing power. By the time of Newt Gingrich's poll-tested Contract with America, antienvironmentalism was part of the Republican canon.
Environmental historian William Cronon writes that the contract "came to grief in good measure because most Americans continue to believe that protecting the environment is a good thing." Newt now thinks so, too, and has admitted that Republicans are "malpositioned" on the environment.

George W. Bush is probably too moderate to emerge as a version of the old antienvironmental Newt. But even in narrow partisan terms, the Republicans should be careful. Wirthlin Worldwide, a polling firm associated with Republican causes, reports that "2 out of 3 Americans say we need to protect the environment no matter what it costs." In 1999, Zogby International, another pollster heavily used by the GOP, surveyed probable Republican primary voters in five key states and found about as much support for "protect environment" (92.8 percent) as for "encourage family values" (93.4 percent). And an Environmental Defense Fund poll says that young adults (18 to 25) are "remarkably skeptical" about environmental progress over the past 30 years, with 62 percent believing that conditions are now worse than in 1970. Republicans may count on the old rule of thumb: Everybody supports the environment in polls, but it's nobody's primary concern in the voting booth. But if I were running the party, I don't think I would tie myself closely to the losing side of a broad national argument.

SF Gate
This is the GOP credo: You're either with us 100 percent, or you're a commie hippie homo who should move to France. And there are few things a conservative fears more than being ostracized by the party.

The truth is, no matter which party you align yourself with, nowadays it takes more guts, more outright nerve, to care about this planet, to work to strip your life of the plastic and the poisonous and minimize your waste and your impact, eat more consciously and support local farming and cherish the flora and fauna, than it ever could be to load up the Escalade with Malaysian-made crap you bought at Wal-Mart that's now 89 cents cheaper because it's made in a sweatshop and not at the local factory that was forced to shut down.

This, then, is the ultimate BushCo credo: No sanctity. No reverence for that which is larger and more ancient and more divine. No concern for that which provides beauty and nourishment and sustenance. Mother Nature is not a source of life and inspiration and vital health -- she's just a lowly wench who needs to be put in her place.

And this, then, is the only possible response: If there was any better time in American history to proudly announce yourself as an environmentalist, this is it. It really doesn't matter where you stand on other issues. Because when that beautiful bitch Mother Nature really begins to strike back, nothing else will matter.

Researchers expose the psychology of the illiberal “liberal” mind

Alec Rawls
Grounds for a theory
Without intending to, our four professors give a pretty good answer to this question. In laying out what characteristics they think define their opposite numbers (conservatives) the professors are actually are laying out, in photo-negative, their own self conceptions. Apparently this has been a major activity amongst left academics for five decades. By compiling this activity the professors in effect compile decades of self dissection by illiberal “liberals.”

The results support a compelling theory of illiberal “liberalism.” Starting at the bare psychological level, “liberals” (illiberals, if you want to get rid of the quotes) build a world view based on squeamish reluctance to pass moral judgment, (what can be called non-judgmentalism or moral relativism). Of course we already know that political “liberals” are often squeamish about moral judgment. What the good professors do is lay it out for us, from premises to implications.

This provides a framework for understanding the real conflict in America today. On one side, conservatives embrace of a body of moral understanding that yields principles and judgments. On the other side is “liberal” antipathy to judgment and principle. If there is a “liberal” principle, this is it: to try to turn moral skepticism into a principle.

Certainly there are exceptions, and these will be discussed, but our four professors make a strong case. Not only does their meta-analysis of a number of earlier surveys indicate that liberals do indeed abhor principle in principle, but their so-called “liberal” positions demonstrate utter cluelessness about the substance of principled moral understanding. Rejection of principle turns, not surprisingly, into unprincipled thought and behavior, supporting what is presumed to be right via demagogic manipulation, unconcerned with reason, evidence or truth.

Examining this clash between principle and un-principle is a worthwhile exercise. In addition to demolishing a slanderous line of left-academic research, it also goes directly to the heart of the terrible political divides that rend America and the world today: not just conservatism vs. illiberal “liberalism,” but also Christian vs. secular morality and even the West vs. our Islamist enemy. Everything comes down to principle vs. rejection of principle, trust in truth vs. demagogic manipulation of lies. All must either learn to trust in truth, or be defeated by it.

Illiberals and non-judgmentalism
Sulloway is right. The theory is utterly revealing, not about conservatism, but about the liberty hating “liberalism” that he and his comrades subscribe to and see as opposed to conservatism. Look closely at the list of psychological traits that, in the history of illiberal thought, are taken to define conservatism: against ambiguity, against uncertainty, in favor of closure. What this parade of bogeymen actually charges is that conservatives come to conclusions! They resolve uncertainty and ambiguity and achieve closure, and we all know how that happens. Resolution comes from compiling understanding, so as to arrive at applicable moral and practical principles.

Anathema! The professors, and the body of “liberal” theorizing that they summarize, in effect declare their own abhorrence at these building blocks of principle: they embrace ambiguity, they embrace uncertainty, they resist closure. At least they are consistent. This abjuring of judgment is also their underlying theoretical presumption: that positions are arrived at via psychological tic rather than by following reason and evidence and developing understanding.

No wonder these researchers have no clue what any conservative or even liberal principles might be. They don’t themselves have ANY principles, or even understand what a principle is, or how one might be arrived at. That is what their embrace of ambiguity and uncertainty and non-closure means. They are unable or unwilling to move forward in their understanding of right and sense. For five decades, “liberals” have actually been calling themselves stupid. They have been bragging about not being able to resolve anything. Just imagine how complex their minds must be, holding all evidence in a state of perpetual incomprehension. These guys must be real studs, to be able figure out nothing at all and still get jobs at top universities.

Of course no one can actually be non-judgmental, or a moral relativist, but it is perfectly possible to be unprincipled in one’s judgments, and this is what moral skepticism leads to.

Why illiberalism?
If “liberals” embrace non-judgmentalism, it could explain their illiberalism. Those who are squeamish about moral implications cannot share in the moral understanding on which this nation was founded. In particular, they cannot grasp how liberty works or what makes it important. Liberty is what allows people to make progress in the discovery and pursuit of value. It enables the development of moral principle and empowers people to act on their moral progress. If one denies the possibility of moral principle and moral progress, liberty becomes much less important.

We certainly see this with our four deaf mice. Ronald Reagan=Adolph Hitler, and no bell rings. Liberty has no presence in their minds, just as we should expect when liberty is grounded, not in a theory of right, but in a denial that there is any such thing as right. When there is no comprehension of the moral underpinnings of liberty, “liberalism” can even segue into its opposite. Any other concern, having an actual presence in the illiberal mind, will trump liberty.

This theory of illiberal “liberalism” as non-judgmentalism is plausible as an account of academic illiberalism because, as Jost et al. show, left-academicians have been systematically declaring themselves to be pro-uncertainty, pro-ambiguity and anti-closure for many years. They have declared their moral skepticism so we know that the theory fits them. The question is whether non-judgmentalism accounts for “liberalism” more broadly. This seems plausible, given that non-judgmentalism is something of a secular religion amongst those who call themselves “liberal” in America.

Sources of non-judgmentalism
One major source of non-judgmentalism is our system of socialized primary and secondary education, which cannot help but teach moral relativism to children. It is not for government to tell the people how to think straight morally, and any attempt to do so elicits angry protests from those parents who reject whatever particular moral lesson the schools might teach. As a result, the schools by default end up teaching that there is no right and wrong, only difference. They end up teaching non-judgmentalism, or moral relativism.[22]

At the college and university level, moral philosophers may reject moral skepticism and moral relativism, but they are vastly outnumbered by the forces of political correctness, which most certainly do embrace non-judgmentalism. Academia is waging a war on the very concept of merit, which is charged to be inherently racist, sexist, classist, etecetera.[23] Our various victim-studies departments all teach that there is no moral truth, only power, which these departments wield ruthlessly to keep out any who would follow or teach sense and reason. Entire departments of literature and sociology have been taken over by leftist majorities that deny that there is any such thing as sense and reason, only socially constructed ideology, designed to manipulate people into submitting to oppression, which in turn justifies the leftists own demagogic manipulation of ideology.[24] Numerous law schools indulge an ideology that there is no truth, only your own world view, which is just as valid as anyone else’s (and a proper grounds for suit) whether it bears any relation to evidence in the world or not.[25]

From kindergarten to professorship, rejection of moral judgment dominates our educational system. Thus it makes sense that illiberal “liberals” would be the educated urban elites, together with those minority populations that have been taught to see liberty as oppression, and have been bribed into believing it with promises of redress for supposed victim status. On this rough check, the theory works. Non-judgmentalism has broad sources and broad influence that coincide pretty much with the location of illiberal “liberalism” in American society.