Heavens, is it Friday already?
With Unique Self Defense
- A coalition of 29 environmental groups have released a 391-page policy document for the incoming administration, focusing on green jobs and clean energy and highlighting the need for science-based policy and transparency, but covering a wide range of topics. You can read it here (pdf). NRDC, one of the co-signers of the document, has some of their folks blogging about various aspects of the proposals.
- FWS has decided that the Northern Mexican Garter Snake should be listed as endangered, but it doesn’t have the funds to do so. Plenty and ESA Blawg consider that fact.
- In honor of Thanksgiving, the NY Times offers a charming editorial on wild foods. “We have a great deal to learn from Twain’s instinctive premise: that losing a wild food means losing part of the landscape of our lives.”
- The Vigorous North, one of my new favorites, shares some links on inner-city wilderness areas, including a proposal to turn Fresh Kills from a dump into a preserve. (Preserve of nature, not trash. Well, the trash is still there. &c.)
- An update on what the American Bison Society’s been up to, including a public survey that shows that Americans care about bison but don’t realize that there are only a few thousand “pure” bison left in the wild.
Rhett Butler and William Laurance have written an interesting piece in TREE on strategies for conservation of tropical forests. They suggest that the main driver of deforestation at this point is not local people but rather multi-national corporations. Although this drastically changes the rate and scale at which land is being degraded, it also provides more direct pressure points through which conservation organizations can act. It’s much easier (and, honestly, politically feasible) to demand that a giant corporation stop cutting trees than indigenous people. Maybe that’s why Malaysia has decided to place the blame for deforestation on the locals?
Butler, R. and W. Laurance. New strategies for conserving tropical forests. TREE. 23:9. (doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2008.05.006)
- ESA Blawg goes deep on how the Bush administration is handling re-writing the rules on ESA. “Bottom line: It remains to be seen whether President Bush and Secretary Kempthorne choose to spend their final days, and reputation, pushing through a set of doomed Endangered Species Act regulations that are opposed by the people, and probably the Courts and Congress as well.”
- Let me just say that $10 million is a perfectly acceptable price for a woolly mammoth, and that, frankly, the NY Times’ editorial board is just engaging in that time-honored tradition of lily-livered liberal hand-wringing by even considering it a bad idea. Talk about a bail-out for biodiversity! Let’s see… $700 billion for the Trouble Species Recovery Program, $10 million / extinct species… that’s 70,000 organisms brought back to life! The passenger pigeon, the dodo, the Lord God bird, tiny horses, saber-toothed tigers, neanderthals, the hobbit. Oh, to be king.
So here, “Malaysia’s indigenous people to get land rights for first time” (http://news.mongabay.com/2008/1119-malaysia.html), we see a classic example of neoliberal decentralization. Malaysia’s government is devolving control over land and resources to a local level, allowing for indigenous people to hold permanent title to their land. At the same time palm plantations are being implemented on this land to provide these people with income. So the government is devolving land ownership to a local level, but at the same time devolving the externalities associated with the management of natural resources and the environment to those who have little money, training, or experience in dealing with them. The government is also imposing cash-crops upon land that may not have grown them before, potentially creating new and unforeseen environmental and social externalities for these indigenous people to deal with. Though the local people involved may benefit from wage labor and the like, I would bet that those who will truely be accumulating here are not indigenous. It is those who will export and trade these cash crops that will make the money. Though I do believe that indigenous people should be able to manage their own resources, often government titling of private property breaks down complex property regimes that may be a melange of common and private ownership and use. The neoliberal agenda to privatize and control seems to be played out in this case, perhaps creating more trouble than good.
The Washington Post reports that Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) is a “leading contender” for Interior Secretary. He’s the chair of the House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. The article points out that Grijalva has a 95% rating from the League of Conservation Voters. He’s also the newly-elected co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Congress. If you really want to get into it, he just released a 23 page report (PDF) on the Bush administration’s failure to protect our public lands. Or you can browse through his legislative record, which is impressive. In particular, he appears to have a dedicated interest in American Indians, who fall under the purview of Interior, and who were consistently ignored and abused under both the Bush and Clinton administrations. Okay, not to mention back to ~1492, but there has been a bi-partisan disinterest in Indian rights, so Grajilva is a potentially re-assuring pick for both them and those interested in parks / endangered species conservation.
He also seems to be getting universal approval from various and sundried bloggers, so… cool. (Lots of positive response / comments at Dos Centavos, Screechowl at Daily Kos, and Ralph Maughan’s Wildlife News)
This narrator should never work again, but wait for when they pour concrete down the
holes (10 tons!) and dig it up. Guaranteed to blow your mind.
Five physics lessons for Obama. Including: “If the [nuclear] waste is stored underground in such a way that there’s only a 10 percent chance that 10 percent of it will leak—which should be more than doable—the risk will be no worse than if we had never mined the uranium in the first place.”
Or how about: “What about high-quality batteries—the kind used in cellphones and laptops? These batteries contain only 1 percent of the energy of their equal weight in gasoline. You can recharge them cheaply, but current batteries typically die after 1,000 charges. If you include the cost of replacement, then they are far more expensive to use than gasoline, though a bit less harmful to our atmosphere.”
Worth a quick read.
- Andy Revkin sums up the top 10 environmental suggestions from Times readers to President Obama.
- I’m not crazy about our governor, but he did good with these new climate change regulations. Businesses in California will be funding rain forest conservation in Brazil and Indonesia. Meanwhile, his old industry is struggling to bring environmental indoctrination through a new product, CSI: Yosemite.
- Gremlins re-discovered in Indonesia. First live pygmy tarsiers in over 80 years.
- The War on the Environment has begun: the military’s been enlisted to help combat ozone depletion / climate change.
- House sparrow numbers down 68% over the last 30 years in Britain. Weird, huh? Maybe we can give them ours back.
- Daewoo is obtaining a 99 year lease for land in northern Madagascar to grow corn. Not good.