Republicans- How they have sold out our environment and their Soul

by Stephen Capra

For the past few years I have spoken with many good Republican friends who feel as though they have lost the party they once so proudly belonged too. These Republicans I speak of care deeply about issues like wilderness, global climate change and wildlife, but they view it through the prism of being Republican means a far broader interpretation than that of the current Tea Party driven, oil and gas industry controlled party of today.

If you look at their plans should they take control of the Senate, their goal should be called the “Destroy Americans Wildlands and Water Act.” They only seem to see our wildlands as a place of exploitation. Their economic strategy includes getting the Keystone pipeline approved, more drilling and fracking, but removing that silly regulation that somehow tries to protect drinking water,  and of course open up more of our coasts to drilling. Let’s not forget selling off public lands in the West as their means of reducing the deficit. Its pure madness and it’s not that far removed from reality.

To watch the Republican party of 2014, is to witness a party bought and paid for by oil and gas, Koch Brothers, the religious right and the extremism of the Tea Party, which is large corporations, exploiting rural America and people who feel their lives are not working according to their white status, especially because of an African-American President of thought and reason.

Chevron is pumping millions into Senator McConnell of Kentucky’s tight Senate race with the goal of becoming the majority leader in the Senate. Now, let’s be clear, Democrats suffer from some of the same influences brought by lobbyists and the many special interests they represent, however, my focus is conservation and on this issue there is an amazing gulf.

It’s important to look at the interconnectedness of life. How would a party that fights woman’s rights that seemingly want to go to war daily, expand military budgets and subsidies to ranchers along with oil and gas interests. While rabidly fighting health care, how can we expect them to care about conservation? They are not just detached from reality; they have traded their connection to the earth for the madness of perceived wealth.

Republicans since the Reagan years rarely seem to see a wilderness bill they support. They have become obstructionists to most environmental legislation and only tend to agree if some major pork for their district is attached. They seem to have very little sense of the importance or spiritual renewal that comes with protected land.

The influence of oil and gas interests has lead governors in the southeast to demand the opening of their coasts to drilling. In North Dakota, they are just now discovering the spills, crime, loss of a night sky, and the dangers that come with putting faith in big oil. The “drill baby drill” propaganda that Fox news and many Republicans now proudly speak of has become a point of pride for many Americans.

From this also comes the carefully choreographed messaging about denying Climate Change and the long list of Republicans from oil states that speak out and pushback from sound science in such a pious manner while the planet screams for reason. It is a sickness that permeates this party and we are paying the price in funding to parks, the obsession of spending cuts from a group that gave us the Iraq war and the destruction of our economy.
The same party has leaders like representative Stephen King of Iowa who supports dog fighting and made sure to add an amendment to the Farm bill that removed protections and inspections of farm animals. Perhaps it’s our own Stevan Pearce of New Mexico, (he even spells his name weird) who proudly spoke of selling off public lands to remove our nation’s debt and who has done all he can behind the scene to block Mexican wolf recovery efforts.

It is a tragedy for this country and the world to see the decline of a once great party that has devolved into a tightly controlled group so devoid of feelings, so full of greed and drunk with power, that they would create a world where most of us are numbers and our lands and waters destroyed for the mansion on the hill.

We have become, not a nation of people, but an island of individuals. That sadly works against the shared responsibility of our public lands and waters.

Elections are less than 10 days away. Voting, like land protection, is more difficult than ever for those in states determined to reinstate the poll tax. Meanwhile our parks will absorb another year of cuts, federal agencies that mange lands will also see cuts, but God forbid, a Republican accepts a cut in military spending!

This party must come back to its roots, its origins. The years of Teddy Roosevelt and the magic he inspired. If they will not- then they must be defeated, for all the reasons I mentioned above, but most of all, if we are to protect lands, end our addiction to oil, and live in harmony with wildlife, stopping them is not about politics, but rather survival.
It comes back to morality, the morality reflected in the magic that is our planet. Something the Republican party of 2014 has turned a blind eye to.

More Morning Meanderings of a Madcap Misanthropist

SmalfutLately I’ve made reference to Bigfoot—that legendary creature that people occasionally claim to see in the Northwest forest, but who have yet to be physically proven—as an analogy for the oft-cited but never really sighted mythical character the “ethical hunter.” The latter, of course, is a contradiction in terms. How can a person make sport of killing of animals in the prime of their lives and call themselves “ethical?”

But aside from the myth factor, the comparison is flawed. Bigfoot are said to be peaceful, self-sufficient vegetarians who live in harmony with the rest of life around them. ( Naturally, they avoid humans like the plague.)

The idea that a human-like creature can fit in with their environment and not destroy it does seem far-fetched these days. But for hundreds of thousands of years, our earliest ancestors lived alongside Australopithecus robustus, a plant-eating hominid who just tried to mind their own business until our direct carnivorous cousins killed or drove them off (just as gorillas of today’s world are falling victim to the bush meat trade.)

Upon reflection, human hunters, even those claiming to be the “ethical” ones, don’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as higher beings like Bigfoot. Although a general rule of thumb may be, the more human-like, the more destructive, Bigfoot is a hopeful exception. The notion of a peaceful, inoffensive, upright two-legger is refreshing indeed.

L-R, Bob Titmus, Jim Robertson at Harrison Hot Springs, B.C., with some of Bob's casts

L-R, Bob Titmus, Jim Robertson at Harrison Hot Springs, B.C., with some of Bob Titmus’ bigfoot casts. Circa 1980

“…how easy it is to do nothing” and other Ouotes On Overopulation

Sir David Attenborough – naturalist b1926
“The human population can no longer be allowed to grow in the same old uncontrolled way. If we do not take charge of our population size, then nature will do it for us.”

Jane Goodall – conservationist b1934
“It’s our population growth that underlies just about every single one of the problems that we’ve inflicted on the planet. If there were just a few of us, then the nasty things we do wouldn’t really matter and Mother Nature would take care of it — but there are so many of us.”

Michael Palin – comedian b1943
“The greatest politically charged challenge facing our planet? Unchecked population growth.”

Helen Mirren – actor b1945
“…I think still it is very fine not to want children. There are far too many people in the world. It is my contribution to ecology.”

Gore Vidal – writer 1925 – 2012
“Think of the Earth as a living organism that is being attacked by billions of bacteria whose numbers double every 40 years. Either the host dies, or the virus dies, or both die.”

Jeremy Irons – actor b1948
“One always returns to the fact that there are just too many of us, the population continues to rise and it’s unsustainable.”

Jane Fonda – actor and activist b1937
“There’s lots to worry about these days but you know what worries me most: the news I read day before yesterday that by something like 2045 there will be 10 billion people on the planet — or more! I’m scared. I’ll be gone but I am scared for my grandchildren and for the wild animals and for the whole human race.”

Isaac Asimov – author 1920 – 1992
“…democracy can not survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters.”

“Which is the greater danger — nuclear warfare or the population explosion? The latter absolutely! To bring about nuclear war, someone has to do something; someone has to press a button. To bring about destruction by overcrowding, mass starvation, anarchy, the destruction of our most cherished values-there is no need to do anything. We need only do nothing except what comes naturally — and breed. And how easy it is to do nothing.”


Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret


Directors: Kip Andersen, Keegan Kuhn
Starring: Michael Pollan, Dr. Richard Oppenlander, Dr. Will Tuttle, Howard Lyman, Will Potter

COWSPIRACY: The Sustainability Secret is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it. As eye-opening as Blackfish and as inspiring as An Inconvenient Truth, this shocking yet humorous documentary reveals the absolutely devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet.
Hosting a screening or wanting to know more? Access the promoter resources here!

10/8 – Austin, TX –
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If you organized a screening and it’s not listed here, let us know and we’ll add it to the calendar.

If you’d like to see Cowspiracy in a theater near you, it’s easy (and free) to make it happen:

To purchase a license to host your own screening (anywhere in the world), visit

Soaring Meat Production Threatens Global Environment, Warns Report

By August 27, 2014

The world is eating too much meat, and that’s bad news for the earth’s forests, arable land, and scarce water. That’s the conclusion of a report released yesterday by the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute.

Global production of meat hit a new high of 308.5 million tons last year, up 1.4 percent, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the report notes. “In response to growing purchasing power, urbanization, and changing diets, meat production has expanded more than fourfold over just the last five decades. Even more startlingly, meat production has grown 25-fold since 1800,” says a news release accompanying the report, entitled “Peak Meat Production Strains Land and Water Resources.”

While average consumption of meat in 2013 reached 42.9 kilograms per capita, many people still consume far less, which means production growth is unlikely to stall soon. People in developing countries are eating less than half the quantity of meat consumed by those in developed nations—33.7 kg. as compared to 75.9 kg., the report points out.

Not surprisingly, Asia, home to the fast-growing, populous countries of China and India, has already become the world’s largest meat-producing region. In 2013, it produced 131.5 million tons of meat, about 43 percent of world output. Europe, by contrast, accounted for 58.5 million tons, North America, 47.2 million, and South America, 39.9 million. “China single-handedly accounted for nearly half of global pig meat production,” the report says.

Raising all that livestock requires lots of land and water. More than two-thirds of all agricultural land is used for animal pasture, with an additional 10 percent used to grow feed grains consumed by meat- and dairy-producing animals. Agriculture overall consumes about 70 percent of the world’s fresh water; a third of it goes to grow feed grain. Particularly resource-intensive is beef production: Raising cattle requires up to five times as much land as that needing to produce pigs or chickens—for the same amount of protein.

“Industrial methods in the livestock sector cut down forests to expand grazing lands and use large quantities of water. Production uses grains (such as corn or soybeans) for animal feed and relies on heavy doses of antibiotics in animals,” writes Worldwatch Institute Senior Researcher Michael Renner. “Limiting these environmental and health impacts requires not only a look at how much meat people eat, but also at the kind of meat that they consume worldwide.”

Tell the Feds NO Arctic Offshore Drilling

From Ocean

Breaking: The U.S. government is beginning to make plans for future offshore oil and gas operations—and those plans could open Arctic waters to risky drilling.

This follows Shell Oil’s decision to abandon Arctic drilling this summer, after an accident-plagued 2012.

If a disaster like BP Deepwater Horizon happened in the Arctic, spill response would be even more challenging. The Arctic’s sea ice, freezing temperatures, gale force winds, and lack of visibility could make cleanup next to impossible.

The government’s public comment period ends on July 31, so we only have 10 days to respond. We need you to tell the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to say no to risky Arctic drilling now.

Take a stand against oil and gas operations in the Arctic Ocean. Act now, and tell BOEM not to open additional Arctic waters to oil and gas drilling!

The Arctic Ocean and all those who depend on it are already under stress. The rapidly changing climate, including extreme deterioration of the summer sea ice, is putting Arctic marine animals at risk. Many people who live in coastal communities in the Arctic depend on a clean and healthy ocean to support their subsistence way of life. Offshore drilling for oil and gas would expose this already fragile ecosystem to significant noise, pollution and traffic.

Stand against risky oil and gas operations in the Arctic Ocean. Tell BOEM not to open additional Arctic waters to oil and gas drilling!

also see:


A Sense of Entitlement is Not the Same as Environmental Ethic

A friend asked me how I would respond to someone who wrote this: “Hunters started the conservation movement in the early part of the last century, and in the United States are the largest financially contributing group to Wildlife Restoration and Conservation.”

My answer?: The only reason hunters got involved is that they’d overhunted so many species practically to extinction and they wanted to save their sport. John Muir and others were around in the 1800s, selflessly speaking for wildlife and against hunting.

And, as another commenter to this blog just pointed out: “The stark reality is this: National Wildlife “Refuges” were originally set up to serve as “duck factories” for the hunting & trapping industries, along with opportunities for livestock grazing.”

Before hunters go around tooting their own horns, they should consider the motives behind their actions. If they’re ultimately self-serving, they are not necessarily all that praiseworthy. Don’t let hunters ‘shit you, an overblown sense of entitlement is not the same as a selfless environmental ethic.

Wolf Photos Copyright Jim Robertson

Wolf Photos Copyright Jim Robertson

Ecocide Is Suicide: Compassion and Personal Rewilding


We’re killing a very tired and less resilient planet at alarming rates.

It’s common knowledge that we’re losing species and habitats at an unprecedented rate in a geological epoch known as the “anthropocene” – the age of humanity. While the term has not been formally recognized as official nomenclature, we know we’re deep into a time when humans are devastating numerous species and their homes and we are behaving in the most inhumane and selfish ways. Simply put, we humans are the cause of such massive and egregious ecocide because as big-brained, big-footed, overproducing, overconsuming, arrogant, and selfish mammals we freely move all over the place recklessly, wantonly, and mindlessly trumping the interests of countless nonhuman animals (animals). Every second of every day we decide who lives and who dies; we are that powerful. Of course, we also do many wonderful things for our magnificent planet and its fascinating inhabitants, but right now, rather than pat ourselves on the back for all the good things we do, we need to take action to right the many wrongs before it’s too late for other animals and ourselves.

I see at least two ways out of the environmental and moral muck in which we’re mired that is responsible for widespread and increasing ecocide. The first centers on paying careful attention to the rapidly growing international and interdisciplinary field called “compassionate conservation” and the second is our choosing to go through a personally transformative process that I call “rewilding our hearts”. Rewilding our hearts calls for a global paradigm shift, a social revolution, in how we interact with other animals and with other humans. 

Compassionate conservation

The goals of compassionate conservation are clearly stated in the mission statement for a recently established Centre for Compassionate Conservation (see also) at the University of Technology, Sydney (Australia) and in a book I edited called Ignoring nature no more: The case for compassionate conservation.

The mission statement for the Centre for Compassionate Conservation promotes the protection of captive and wild animals as individuals within conservation practice and policy. Finding ways to compassionately and practically share space (coexistence), via trade-offs among different values, is vital if we are to reduce harm to animals.

A simple and morally acceptable approach is to utilize the universal ethic of compassion (and empathy) to alleviate suffering in humans and other animals to resolve issues of land sharing. A compassionate and practical ethic for conservation that focuses on individual well being, in combination with other values, provides a novel framework of transparency and robust decision-making for conservation that will benefit all stakeholders.

Compassionate conservation stipulates that we need a conservation ethic that prioritizes the protection of other animals as individuals: not just as members of populations of species, but valued in their own right. This is important because of what we now know about their cognitive and emotional lives (consciousness and sentience).

Because compassionate conservation requires that we must protect animals as individuals, they are not merely objects or metrics who can be traded off for the good of populations, species or biodiversity.

A paradigm shift in our approach to other animals is vital because of what we now know about the cognitive and emotional capacities of other animals and their ability to suffer (sentience).

With a guiding principle of “first do no harm“, compassionate conservation offers a bold, virtuous, inclusive, and forward-looking framework that provides a meeting place for different perspectives and agendas to discuss and solve issues of human-animal conflict when sharing space. Peaceful coexistence with other animals and their homes is needed in an increasingly human-dominated world if we are to preserve and conserve nature the best we can.

Surely, adhering to the principles of compassionate conservation will go a long way toward reducing the ecocide in which we are now engaged and for which we all are responsible.

Rewilding our hearts

My forthcoming book called Rewilding our hearts: Building pathways of compassion and coexistence lays out the details for a much-needed social movement and paradigm shift that also can help extricate us from our ecocidal ways and help to maintain our hopes and dreams for a more peaceful world for all beings in very trying times. Some of the basic ideas are reviewed here. We live in a world in which “unwilding” is the norm rather than the exception. If we didn’t unwild we wouldn’t have to rewild.

The word “rewilding” became an essential part of talk among conservationists in the late 1990s when two well-known conservation biologists, Michael Soulé and Reed Noss, wrote a now classic paper called “Rewilding and biodiversity: Complimentary goals for continental conservation” that appeared in the magazine WIld Earth (Fall 1998, 18-28. 15).

In her book Rewilding the World conservationist Caroline Fraser noted that rewilding basically could be boiled down to three words: Cores, Corridors, and Carnivores. Dave Foreman, director of the Rewilding Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a true visionary, sees rewilding as a conservation strategy based on three premises: “(1) healthy ecosystems need large carnivores, (2) large carnivores need bug, wild roadless areas, and (3) most roadless areas are small and thus need to be linked.” Conservation biologists and others who write about rewilding or work on rewilding projects see it as a large-scale process involving projects of different sizes that go beyond carnivores, such as the ambitious, courageous, and forward-looking Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, well known as the Y2Y project. Of course, rewilding goes beyond carnivores, as it must.

The core words associated with large-scale rewilding projects are connection and connectivity, the establishment of links among geographical areas so that animals can roam as freely as possible with few if any disruptions to their movements. For this to happen ecosystems must be connected so that their integrity and wholeness are maintained or reestablished.

Regardless of scale, ranging from huge areas encompassing a wide variety of habitats that need to be reconnected or that need to be protected to personal interactions with animals and habitats, the need to rewild and reconnect centers on the fact that there has been extensive isolation and fragmentation “out there” in nature, between ourselves and (M)other nature, and within ourselves. Many, perhaps most, human animals, are isolated and fragmented internally concerning their relationships with nonhuman animals, so much that we’re alienated from them. We don’t connect with other animals, including other humans, because we can’t or don’t empathize with them. The same goes for our lack of connection with various landscapes. We don’t understand they’re alive, vibrant, dynamic, magical, and magnificent. Alienation often results in different forms of domination and destruction, but domination is not what it means “to be human.” Power does not mean license to do whatever we want to do because we can.

Rewilding projects often involve building wildlife bridges and underpasses so that animals can freely move about. These corridors, as they’re called, can also be more personalized. I see rewilding our heart as a dynamic process that will not only foster the development of corridors of coexistence and compassion for wild animals but also facilitate the formation of corridors within our bodies that connect our heart and head. In turn, these connections, or reconnections, will result in positive feelings that will facilitate heartfelt actions to make the lives of animals better. These are the sorts of processes that will help the new field of compassionate conservation further develop. When I think about what can be done to help others a warm feeling engulfs me and I’m sure it’s part of that feeling of being rewilded. To want to help others in need is natural so that glow is to be expected.

Rewilding is an attitude. It’s also a guide for action. As a social movement, it needs to be proactive, positive, persistent, patient, peaceful, practical, powerful, and passionate — which I call the eight Ps of rewilding.

Compassion begets compassion and there’s actually a synergistic relationship, not a trade-off, when we show compassion for animals and their homes. There are indeed many reasons for hope. There’s also compelling evidence that we’re born to be good and that we’re natural-born optimists. Therein lie many reasons for hope that in the future we will harness our basic goodness and optimism and all work together as a united community. We can look to the animals for inspiration. So, we need to tap into our empathic, compassionate and moral inclinations to make the world a better place for all beings. We need to build a culture of empathy. We need to add a healthy dose of social justice to our world right now.

We can all make more humane and compassionate choices to expand our compassion footprint, and we can all do better. We must all try as hard as we can to keep thinking positively and proactively. Never say never, ever. We can and must keep our hopes and dreams alive (see also).

When all is said and done, and more is usually said than done, we need a heartfelt revolution in how we think, what we do with what we know, and how we act. Rewilding can be a very good guide. The revolution has to come from deep within us and begin at home, in our heart and wherever we live. I want to make the process of rewilding a more personal journey and exploration that centers on bringing other animals and their homes, ecosystems of many different types, back into our heart. For some they’re already there or nearly so, whereas for others it will take some work to have this happen. Nonetheless, it’s inarguable that if we’re going to make the world a better place now and for future generations, personal rewilding is central to the process and will entail a major paradigm shift in how we view and live in the world, and how we behave. It’s not that hard to expand our compassion footprint and if each of us does something the movement will grow rapidly.

The time is right, the time is now, for an inspirational, revolutionary, and personal social movement that can save us from doom and keep us positive while we pursue our hopes and dreams. Our planet is tired and dying and not as resilient as some claim it to be.

Rewild now. Take the leap. Leap and the net will appear. It’ll feel good to rewild because compassion and empathy are very contagious. 

Let’s make personal rewilding all the rage

Ecocide is suicide. Let’s make personal rewilding all the rage. When “they” (other animals) lose, we all lose. We suffer the indignities to which we subject other animals. We can feel their pains and suffering if we allow ourselves to do so.

Compassion begets compassion and violence begets violence.

There really is hope if we change our ways. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations who will inherit the world we leave them long after we’re gone.

Note: An excellent new book on this topic is Keeping the Wild: Against the Domestication of Earth edited by George Wuerthner, Eileen Crist, and Tom Butler.

Marc Bekoff’s latest books are Jasper’s story: Saving moon bears (with Jill Robinson; see also), Ignoring nature no more: The case for compassionate conservation (see also)and Why dogs hump and bees get depressed (see also). Rewilding our hearts: Building pathways of compassion and coexistence will be published fall 2014. (