Driving U.S. 71 in Western Arkansas in 1987 I witnessed a sad reality: The close forest of Shortleaf Pine Trees had been clear cut. What had been thick stands of majestic, 35 and 40-foot trees were now stumps and tiny saplings. It was enough to make even a mild tree lover indignant!
The culprit, Weyerhaeuser Paper defended the action. They explained that the "new trees would grow twice as fast" as the old ones. Twenty years later, I made the drive from Texarkana to Fort Smith, Arkansas and saw that they had been correct. Some minor erosion had taken place. Locals said the land itself "had looked bare" for a generation! And the unique, somewhat irregular Short Leaf Pines which marked the northwestern end of the southern pine forest were no more. In their place were healthy looking, "super" growers that not only grew faster, but provided a better wood product! Was this progress? To Weyerhaeuser it was! To Arkansans, it was "at a cost."
Sierra Club activists readily denounced clearcutting. They acknowledged that the new trees would grow faster. But their argument was tempered with an appeal for moderation. The end result was "selective harvest" methods. It proved to be the best solution and is the norm for today.
Most Americans hold at least marginal sentiments for protecting our land, air, trees, streams, lakes and beaches. Since the sixties there has been increased pride and awareness in cleanliness and environmental friendliness. America's report card is good, bordering on outstanding. We should be congradulating ourselves. Of course, there are those who continue to say that "we are not doing enough."
There are always extremists on every side of any issue. In the case of many Reagan era profiteers, Weyerhaeuser saw the long term dollar signs. Clearcutting the Ouachita National Forest was practical. After all, why let stand a tree that took fifty years to mature, when better trees could be planted that could be harvested in twenty years? Their point of view proved to be in the minority. Careful assessment of both positions brought the end result. Can we not learn from history?
Today, the pendulum has swung the other way!
The Environmental Protection Agency, now 17,000 employees strong has determined that a deepening recession is not sufficient reason for postphoning corrective measures. Under the leadership of EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, the agency will go full speed ahead with added regulations on smog, mercury, mining waste, and vehicle emissions. Every corner of the country will be affected.
The timing could not be worse for the Obama Administration. EPA believes that the administration did not fight hard enough for cap-and-trade legislation. Perhaps this was due to some inconclusive findings. Those who supported the legislation, expecially those in coal states, such as Kentucky's Ben Chandler, either lost or barely retained their Congressional seats. At a time when creating jobs is on the top of both Republicans and Democrats "wish lists," Jackson's agenda seems to be odds with it.
"I think that the face of the 2012 election is going to be EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson," said Barney Bishop, President and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida. Bishop, who describes himself as a "lifelong Democrat," added,"she is killing jobs faster than the president can create them."
The ideology of extremism has surfaced in recent times. When Bjorn Lomborg published "The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World," he was hung in effigy by the Environmental Establishment. Three years later, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger delivered "the death of environmentalism" at the 2004 Environmental Grantmakers Association. In 2007, they published a book: "Break Through; From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility."
This somewhat "moderate to the left" point of view was scorned by Sierra Club President Carl Pope and stalwart proponents of the movement. Yet the message was clearly "not out in the ozone." They factually concluded that Kyoto state emission reductions failed any reasonable cost-benefit test.
Nordhaus and Shellenberger further angered the establishment in pointing out flaws in Waxman-Markey's cap-and-trade bill. They called Barack Obama's green jobs "a fraud;" actually labeled them "green jobs for janitors."
Not exactly right wing fringe brokers, Nordhaus and Shellenberger have championed left wing causes. They have consulted labor unions, gay rights groups and have been consistent advocates for tax increases. They scoff at such cliche's about the "fragility" of nature-"an obsolete paradigm of traditional conservation."
It is clearly evident that the environmental movement is having second thoughts.
There are more "green" advocates bringing out painful, yet pertinent information at odds with Jackson's directive. British Journalist, Fred Pearce's "The Coming Population Crash and Our Planet's Surprising Future," systematically dissects the previously accepted doctrine of climate change. David Roberts of Grist.org, another renowned "green" writer has questioned the overall validity of previous climate change conclusions.
Earlier this year, Professor Mojib Latif, one of the world's leading climate modelers projected a coming 30-year "mini ice age." He suggested that we may already be seeing the first stages of it. This came after a warming period that took place largely between 1980 and 2000. The world and beyond felt this. Temperature readings on the planet Mars were up almost two degrees from the time Viking landers began taking temperature readings in 1976 and when Pathfinder resumed the readings in 1997. This deviation was clearly unrelated to carbon emissions. One probable cause for the upcoming ice age may be the absence of "sunspots" on the Sun itself.
Americans seemingly are left with an out of control federal agency clearly determined to mandate and implement policies that are based on inconclusive and/or flawed information. Never mind that there are holes emerging on every end of previous theory! Who cares if there are millions of Americans currently out of work and more will become "green casualities" if Jackson is allowed to proceed with her agenda. Could the president put the brakes on EPA? Probably not! And if he could, he would infuriate California zealots such as Nancy Pelosi, Henry Waxman and Al Gore.
The center of Henry Waxman's district is Westlake Village, a pristine Ventura County, seemingly made for television community. Rarely does the temperature exceed 80 or drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The average household income is $190,000 per year.
Nancy Pelosi can muse between sips of Chardonnay from her Napa valley vinyard that she and her 35 million in assets "can see the big picture,unlike the little people."
Al Gore has banked tens of millions from his "sale" of a would be crisis which, at best, has been exaggerated. Does excess carbon consumption bother the former Vice President? It would appear that it doesn't; based on his prodigious Malibu mansion and private jet.
Unfortunately for Obama, all three were key supporters in his 2008 presidential run. To cross Lisa Jackson would be politically incorrect. Not to mention a guarantee of alientating key constituents certain to be influenced by the trio!
The EPA is now larger than the Internal Revenue Service. It has evidently decided to take charge and implement the failed cap-and-trade legislation, irregardless of whether the people want it or can afford it. In the mind of Lisa Jackson and her tight circle of ideologues, the EPA "simply knows what's best for us."
What about Michelle Bachmann's assertion that the best solution may be to merely "shut the agency down," pink slipping Ms. Jackson and her cohorts? Such an action would actually be consistent with the Constitution's 10th amendment! And, in looking at the results of low taxed states such as Texas which produced a 27 percent reduction in ozone levels and a 53 percent dropoff in mono-nitrogen oxides, maybe the states would be better stewards.
The bottom line is this: Business eventually moderated because of public pressure. The EPA answers to nobody. They have "carte blanche" to expedite a flawed theory, even if it results in further job loss. In the minds of Lisa Jackson and company, the theory isn't flawed. Only the people who question it are the problem.
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