Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Yosemite, Conservation And Environmentalism

As the RVFTLC family took our recent trip to Yosemite National Park, the whole excursion made me think about what I am when it comes to such things as national parks and what it means to be a good steward of the earth and its resources.
Don't worry. I am not going crazy and becoming a Grennie or anything like that.
But there is something about the fact that the nation has a huge part that is undeveloped and that populations are being crunched into smaller areas.
So, I have to think about it.
Am I a conservationist?
Or am I an environmentalist?
I find it hard to narrow myself. I find that there is some overlap between the two forces. But today, environmentalism is winning out over conservation.
So, if I had to choose one to get out of a room, I would consider myself a conservationist.
Because I do believe that there are parts of the United States that do need to be preserved.
When I was at Yosemite and looked at the famous Half Dome formation, I looked at it and did not think "Gee, some oil rigs would be really cool up there." Or "Hmm, a nice fracking device at the top would be even cooler!"
No, I felt that it was a lot of what John Muir thought of Yosemite who wrote the following:

"No temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite... The grandest of all special temples of Nature."

That is what I felt.
Conservation does seek to have a reasonable balance between nature and man. It seeks to balance the use of natural resources with efforts of preservation.
On the other hand, environmentalism believes not in a balance of nature and man but a perverse nature-worship. And it promotes such matters as Global Warming and so-called man-made climate change.
Yet the environmentalists ire is not at those that are currently the worst offenders, nations like Red China and India, but at the industrial West and the United States especially.
To me, it is all about the balance.
What difference will it make if the United States essentially returns to a pre-industial era when the two above-mentioned nations are raping and pillaging the land? Polluting like crazy?
The United States is unique in the world because of its sheer size that it can pursue a balance of forces that frankly, most nations can not.
One of the problems in the United States is the infamous Artic National Wildlife Refuge or ANWR.
The ANWR currently is 19,000,000 acres or 77,000 kilometres.
Essentially, in 1986 a report by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended that all of the coastal plain of the reserve be opened for oil and gas development. The total that would be subject to allowing for oil and gas development is 1,062,000 acres. It is not even 10% of the total of the reserve. But conservationists and environmentalists have successfully blocked this for over 20 years. And the reason?
That all of this would disrupt the Porcupine Caribou and their calving areas and their migration patterns.
The problem is that there is no discernible proof that oil and gas exploration would do just that.
What should be done, again in the name of conservation and using a beneficial natural resource would be to halve the acreage and have the development on about 531,000 acres of land. And that it be done as far away as possible from the caribou to see if it would indeed have and impact on calving and migration patterns. Because unless it is done, how do we really know it will have a major impact?
There are reasons that this should be done and I am not writing this to go into that discussion.
I don't want to see the caribou taken out of their natural habitat. But I also do not like our overdependence on foreign sources of petroleum.
But before we go into our corners and try to demonize each other, I do not think that we who believe in conservation and balance are far from the majority thought. But because anything that seems to help something like the eeeeevvvvviiiiilllll oil companies, or any company for that matter, and we are seen as sellouts.
Back to Yosemite.
We should be very grateful that people before us had the vision to realize that there are just some things that should not be developed. That there is something to be said about being good stewards of the earth and of God's creation. But today, there is an extremism that worries me about what this means to many people.
As for me, it is all about balance. And conservation is balance. And preserving a place like Yosemite recognizes both.

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