Thursday, August 27, 2015

Human mistreatment of the Natural World is a mirror of the way they treat each other

Credit: Xiann Melegrito

The collage above I found by accident accurately illustrates what humans have done to each other throughout history. Often in the name of championing a cause and almost always for power over others. World empire after world empire from the beginning have spread their own personal version of what the Romans later coined, "Pax Romana" which is the Latin for "Roman Peace." Although clearly it didn't always work that way for those whom the Romans  forced into subjection. Still, the human usage of mutilated language [words/terms/phrases/slogans] has served humans throughout history who were ambitious with obtaining power and dominance over their fellow man by any means possible. Fast forward to the beginning of the 20th Century just after the industrial revolution and especially since the year 1914, mankind has indeed "dominated his fellow man to his injury." The Germans used mutilated language like the sign over the Concentration Camp gate entrances saying, "Arbeit Macht Frei" which was used to obtain power and dominance over other human beings by the most heinous means possible. Believe it or not, they used the prevailing consensus science of that time to justify their right to world domination ideology which in their minds gave them a sense of moral [though perverted] justification. 

Today the same exact strategic usage of word mutilation is used to justify industrial business models and all cloaked under the imaginary protective umbrella of none other than "scientific consensus." The most notorious of examples today are the attempts by the industrial biotechnology people to mutilate the meaning and definition of an actual real legitimate term called Genetic Modification. Their version goes something like this: "Mankind has been genetically modifying plants and animals for thousands of years", which is nothing more than a lame cowardly attempt to equate gene manipulation in a Lab by bought and paid for industrial scientists with farmers and ranchers breeding plants and animals for thousands of years. Even the original dictionary definition meaning understands the true original meaning behind the terminology:
"Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification, is the direct manipulation of an organism's genome using biotechnology."
But somehow such industrial public relations marketeers believe if they say their definition version of "genetic modification" long and loud enough in the echo chamber, that somehow it will just get sucked into people's brains and later be accepted as fact. Admittedly I'm not a real fan of the Biotech Corporate industry, especially since I once worked for one such company and found major flaws in their safety data sheets one of their major flagship products and after reporting my findings, was told two weeks later my contract for working for them would not be renewed. Well, neither did their product work out, which BTW was an excellent  one, but neither did it stay very long on the market. Must be why I enjoy interviewing doctors on possible side effects of manufactured  drugs by pharmaceuticals at the work I do now. The Nazi ideology did this public relations word mutilation for over a period of almost 20 years prior to the justification for War. Had they come clean in the beginning, they never would have acquired the power to carry out their plans.

Credit: Fred A. Bernstein of New York Times
I recently read an article from Michigan State University which spoke about using what it called Marginal Lands [lands considered worthless for conventional science-based agriculture] for the bio-fuel business ventures. The photograph at left appeared in a New York Times real Estate section that had the title: "High hopes and Worthless Land". The New York Times article's author, Fred Bernstein, was relating a story of how his father had been conned by some real estate huckster back in the early 1960s to invest in land that would one day be worth far more than it's present value as the city of Albuqueque in New Mexico would be expanding to the north in the future. In the past, other such landscapes with wetlands, rocks and boulders, woodlands with what many considered valueless trees etc were all considered marginal and not fit for anything of commercial value. That's all changed now. For a couple decades there has been another assault on the Natural World cloaked under the guise of Alternative Energy. Deserts have been used for such Industrial Solar and Wind projects because they are deemed worthless [no doubt in monetary terms] because this world's leadership finds no other uses for them from a business standpoint. Over the past couple of years we have heard of a new term called, "Green Grabs" which is the 'business as usual'  of taking land from poor people in poorer developing countries for the business interests of nations in the industrial world. Never mind that countless poor farmers have been displaced and land is taken out of food production only to be converted into Eco-Biofuels for Industrial countries. For example take the first line in that article's title I alluded to above which starts off using the expression, 'MARGINAL LANDS'  and a quote from the first paragraph of that piece really says it all:
"Marginal Lands -- those unsuited for food crops -- can serve as prime real estate for meeting the Nation's energy production goals."
Somehow the term or phrase 'Marginal Lands' struck a nerve in me. I'm finding lately that the use of many terms and phrases are being used in a negative context when describing any living organism on Earth that impedes human materialistic pursuit or perceived comfort zones where such living things need to be either subdued or totally eliminated. In other words, a specific landscape could be labeled as 'waste' or a 'worthless' piece of real estate with no real attached economic value. Again, keep in mind, people have also  been doing this for centuries to each other, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that nature itself also takes the hit. If they don't respect each other, how in the world can anyone expect them to show respect and proper custodianship for the natural world ???
Prime Examples of Misleading Terminology used for Justification of Irresponsible Land Management Models

photo by Cody Sheehy

 Burrows Ranch near Redding Northern California
"This valley has a high fuel load of decadent brush. It is an ideal place to remove this brush to create fire breaks. If done correctly, this valley could return to a more natural fire regime that supports greater biodiversity and protects property"
Cody Sheehy (Video Coordinator at The University of Arizona)
Now seriously, when I look at Cody's photograph, I'm not seeing what he sees. There is nothing decadent here and I can see that there is indeed great biodiversity. The authoritative champions of land management who are major proponents of prescribed or controlled burns within the chaparral environment often cite reasons for such prescribed fires as the landscape desperately needs a mosaic pattern to allow for biodiversity. Does anyone else besides me see the lack of any ecological mosaic pattern which is preventing biodiversity from happening in Cody's photograph ???  If he is in fact referring to the appearance of brown colouration in the shrubbery as justification for his flawed landscape worldview, he apparently is ignorant of the fact that this is summer and the brown colour is only dried flowers of Chamise chaparral. It's what is known as NORMAL. His photograph is actually one of my favourite examples of landscape biodiversity where trees making up small woodland pockets in the chaparral make sort of biodiverse islands of life within chaparral. These trees are Foothill Pines (Pinus sabiniana) which like other trees like Engelmann Oak (Quercus engelmannii) and Big Cone Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga macrocarpa) thrive and prefer such ecological niches. The surrounding landscape in the hills west and south of Temecula California where I originally come from have many areas like this. I actually went to Cody's YouTube page and found many of his videos interesting, but why and where did he come up with such terminology and misunderstanding of chaparral wildlands ? Once again, the photograph he referenced in his comments shows none of the imaginary problems he was describing. Human constructed firebreaks on mountain ridgelines are not natural and serve only to waste money, time, effort and divert attention away from the real issues involving wildfires. They also make certain special interests lots of money. But no doubt Cody's misunderstanding comes from inexperience of youth and probably from reading what others have written who label themselves as the fire ecology experts. Take a look:
"The fire ..... decadent chaparral fuelbeds" (Minnich 1983, Byrne 1979)
 Source: US Forest Service - Cost-Effective Fire Management for Southern California's Chaparral Wilderness: An Analytical Procedure
The inciweb site this year, 2015, has reported about state fires of  Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California, especially in the northern part of the state which has had a terrible time with countless lightning and human caused fires. In comments on one of the fires burning in northern California, the Cal Fire website also said this about the conditions.
"The Fire is burning in heavy decadent brush . . "
Cal-Fire: Details on the Jerusalem fire Aug 2015
This next usage example of the word/term "decadent" actually comes from a resident biologist, Anne Poopatangapong, assigned to the US Forest Service in Idyllwild California who oversees the San Bernardino National Forest in the San Jacinto Mountains and commenting on the July 2013 Mountain Fire which also had a human cause.
“Some of the fuels out there are really, old and really decadent, and have changed the forest” said Anne Poopatanapong, district biologist for the Forest Service. “So what you’re seeing is not necessarily the way the fire would naturally occur.”
Tarleton University in Texas, on a page describing California Chaparral had this to say about why the word decadent chaparral is used. While commenting on a mosaic pattern of Manzanita, Ceanothus, Chamise and Digger Pine shown in a photograph, they had this comment.
"Note the so-called “decadent” (meaning high proportion of dead plant material) characteristic of this fire-type. These scene illustrates why California chaparral burns so readily during the long, hot, dry summer of the Mediterranean climate.Mt. Diablo State Park."
Source: Tarleton University - California Chaparral and Related Shrublands
"So it is a carpet of gasoline, and it should be viewed as such, and people should think if it in those terms" 
Richard Minnich (University California Riverside Fire Scientist)
Frankly, I strongly disagree and find it highly irresponsible for so-called fire ecology experts to be using such purposeful derogatory terminology and definition shell gaming to demonize any plant or any other plant community on Earth in the promotion of some less than accurate management agenda. When I was a kid in the middle 1960s, at elementary school we learned through documentary films about how Brazil was constructing a new capitol carved out of the rainforests called Brasilia because that ecosystem was considered worthless Amazon swampland which they were going to educate others on how to reclaim such land for productive human purposes. My how that opinion has changed. Now let me just focusing here on California's native chaparral system when it's in a healthy old growth stage. I personally have never seen first hand the type of description as they are attempting to lay on the public by the usage of the words/terms "decadent" or any other vulgar adjective. Now I have seen such areas of heavy deadwood, but more often than not, it was the result of terrible ignorance on how the plant community's ecosystem really functions which resulted from previous land mismanagement in the first place. The word decadent is more traditionally and appropriately applied only to human beings and that's how most of us historically have understand it. To illustrate, here is the dictionary definition usage of the word and how and why it is normally applied:
"Adjective - characterized by decadence, especially culturally or morally: a decadent life of excessive money and no sense of responsibility."
"Noun - a person who is decadent - characterized by a marked tendency toward the artificial and abnormal in content."
Synonyms: corrupt, immoral, degenerate, debased, debauched, self-indulgent 
(Source -
I know there are those out there who recently attempt to say plants are sentient beings, but seriously, do you really think and believe plants are schemers, corrupt, immoral etc etc etc ??? The deliberate irresponsible usage of the words/terms like "decadent" for Southern California's chaparral plant community doesn't even come close to illustrating what the chaparral plant community is all about. The usage is not so much to educate humans, but rather to provide a negative connotation in justification of it's removal [no doubt for profit by a number of special interests] and championing terrible land management policies [again, no doubt for profit] which actually offer no value whatsoever in any long term fire suppression goals [real or imaginary]. The other derogatory words/terms, "fuel loads" & "gasoline", are meant to assign blame on why we have these later day mega wildfires in the first place. By their very own cherished definition, should we not also be considering things like homes in housing tracts as "fuel loads" since they also burn as well ??? I mean, they always seem to be in the way and allow fire to pass on through ? Take a look at this example and Union Tribune newspaper comment below.

Union-Tribune; photo John Gibbins

Cedar Fire: Scripps Ranch subdivision, San Diego,

California, October 25, 2003
"Almost 3,000 homes were lost in the Cedar Fire, leading to improved access to fire insurance; increased focus on firefighter training; and better warning, communications, and evacuation plans. San Diego County homeowners are now required by law to maintain 100 feet of defensible space around their houses."
Does it at all seem reasonable to blame the vegetation in this photograph for this home's demise ? Is there some type of forest crown fire going on here or hundred foot high wall of flames within  the shrubs which are causing this house to catch on fire ? Why is the house the only main thing burning while the vegetation seems so untouched ? While there appears to be some small mulch and weeds burning a foot high as undergrowth, the only time this vegetation will burn or even get singed is if it's too close to the burning house. Here's another example. Recently there was a wild fire along the Interstate 15 Freeway in the notorious Cajon Pass area of Southern California in which the fire burned 20+ cars and large trucks. Should we also now be assigning Cars and Trucks blame as "fuel-loads" utilizing their own cherished definition ? 

Image: ABC News
Cajon Pass @ Interstate 15 Freeway - July 19, 2015

Well, they were after all on a concrete freeway which acts as a sort of fire break barrier. Could it now be argued that the mere presence of these cars and trucks be seriously considered as a "fuel load" [even containing gasoline] allowing the fire to breach that concrete barrier which allowed the wildfire to advance farther up the mountainside and therefore they shouldn't be allowed on the freeways anymore ??? Of course not, that's ridiculous, but it's the same exact argument given by the usage of other such flammable materials, but which are merely biological. Truth is, anything organic will burn, especially these days with climate change and more severe weather conditions. Look at wet Boreal, Temperate and Tropical Rainforests for example ???

As I previously alluded to before, deserts are considered worthless and waste, but not for alternative energy schemes which are parked in nobody's backyard. Well, nobody deemed important. The picture below is of a flawed scheme to manufacture giant CO2 eating machines to vacuum the air and *cough-cough* save the planet. Such industrial projects are already in many places across the deserts southwest, so why not use fake artificial trees to do what real trees, the ones humans have mostly destroyed, use to do ??? True, real trees not only eat up CO2s and provide oxygen, but there's no money in them like these artificial schemes which will provide jobs and help the economy. Any time some leader or business interest wants something approved, they always through in jobs and economy into the plan. Below is one man's opinion of the Mojave Desert, but he's not alone.

'Carbon Trees' Would Suck CO2 Out of Air

"A solar panel 100 miles by 100 miles in the Mojave Desert (USA) could replace all the coal burned to generate electricity in the entire U.S." 
Louis A. Del Monta, Physicist, Author and CEO 
To view further my opinions and thoughts on alternative energy schemes, please click the following link I recently posted:
The World's Catch 22 with Alternative Energy Schemes


Chaparral Broom (Baccharis sarthroidea)
A final example comes from  the Chaparral Biologist, Richard Halsey who not long ago exposed a government release of a Forest Land Management Report, for it's usage of the words/terms like 'boring and mundane' as applied to the native chaparral plant community of Southern California. These descriptive derogatory terms were being purposefully applied to the most productive and prolific native flora of California to justify land management policies which favour big business interests such as those of the construction/development and Timber industries. Such policies have destroyed perhaps millions of acres of chaparral habitat deemed rangy looking and worthless as well as promoting  the very idea that it's very existence is specifically responsible for the latest decades round of Mega-Fires. Of course these are all lies. On the other side of the argument made by the opposition is that  there are certain other plants like Pines, Firs, Cedars, Oaks and others being considered as having far more value and worth as to an economic benefit. Quite often however from a human viewpoint, those plants are also considered as having far more value and worth for no other reason than they were judged by mere appearance and in doing so, they are reflecting how human beings have judged each other since their first appearance on Earth. One thing is for a certainty, such flawed judgement is not the result of good responsible scientific study and research. Even demonizing plants and animals as invasives doesn't solve what went wrong. As a rule, humans are mostly unwilling to admit flaws and imperfections they themselves engaged in which brought about the imbalance in nature which opened the door for the demonized invasiveness. Here is an excellent article just published from Harper's magazine on attitudes towards invasive species and the flawed science they promote and allow in dealing with it. Mostly, everything is done for a price tag, not because it's the right or correct thing to do. People tend to forget that is what got the world in trouble in the first place:
“David Theodoropoulos, a California naturalist, seed merchant, and the author of Invasion Biology: Critique of a Pseudoscience, is blunt about what he sees as a deadly inversion of environmental priorities."
‘Thirty years ago,’ he told me, ‘the greatest threats to nature were chain saws, bulldozers, and poisons. Now the greatest threats are wild plants and animals. And what do we use to fight them? Chain saws, bulldozers, and poisons. Who does this serve?’” 
… I asked Peter Raven whether his efforts to protect the natural world didn’t clash in some way with his support for something very unnatural: GMO technology. ‘What’s natural anymore?’ he replied. ‘If we’re going to play God, we might as well be good at it.’” 
Harper's magazine: "Weed Whackers Monsanto, glyphosate, and the war on invasive species" 

Credit: Marsha Elliott
Many today will insist that such irresponsible conduct is all in the past, we've moved on. We're more socially responsible now and we are now living in  the enlightened age. Seriously ??? Things on Earth are far worse ecologically, politically, economically and socially than at any time in history. Many of the latest social experiments here in Europe have turned into a joke. Here in Sweden they have a social program called "dagis" which is a type of preschool for all kids and their working parents. The rule of law here is that teachers can not use the pronouns "hon" (she) or "han" (he), they can only use "hen" (gender neutral pronoun). One parent had a boy come home confused wondering whether he was a boy or girl, he was told he was neither. I understand their socialist indoctrination, but 3 and 4 year old kids ??? (I won't even go into what else they have been feeding these 3 and 4 year old kids as far as sexual matters) I can understand the need to introduce people of a conventional religious background into an atheistic secular society because when I went to SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) classes here, a big part of assimilating immigrants [my classmates were all Muslim] into secular culture was to show movies where sex was being acted out on the screen. The first movie I put my head down on the desk so as not to watch, the second one I walked out and said I was only interested in learning the language, not the politics of a free spirit ideology. Over in the USA I often follow news articles from SF Gate. San Francisco has always been at the forefront of social experiments. I remember back in 1999 when the city of S.F. were going to show the rest of the country how to take care of homeless people properly. One of the things they did was purchase shopping carts for homeless so that they wouldn't have to steal one. It was said this would dignify them. Seriously, these folks need a hand up not a hand out. Homeless people have come from many places across the USA to be in San Francisco, but now the SF leadership  want those same homeless people gone while the Super Bowl is in town as there appears to be a major problem with urination and defecation in public. It's so bad that even the street lamp posts are falling down from corrosion. If things like that are not bad enough, New York city is thinking of actually decriminalizing public urination. So how does all this happen in our modern times ??? What's changed ??? Apparently the new science has a majority of people believing that we are all nothing more than animals anyway, so if dogs do it, and the pigeons do it on the outside of a building's window, why not human beings ??? If we really are just nothing more than some other species of animal, offered up by an evolutionary process that attaches no significance to what makes us different and exceptional, then the reasoning is that animal behavior on the part of human beings should hardly be something to be censored. Collectively speaking, humans have spent more time playing World of Warcraft, than they have at responsible custodianship of Earth. Don't ever expect the natural world, the earth and human society as a whole to ever improve for the better with a worldview like this. You know what the really scary or spooky thing is here, if evolution is true, it means that well meaning efforts at helping nature, one's fellow man and this so-called sustainable living cannot even be considered the right thing to do. But even more so, it also means that the bad abusive animal behaviour on the part of human beings over the centuries that has screwed everything up is not even wrong. It really question begs here beyond "What is natural ?", but seriously: "What is Truth ???"