Stop the Noise

Stephen Capra

We are living through one of the most difficult periods in conservation history, in a country led by a madman, supported by people that see life through authoritarian rule. The rhetoric and constant stream of nausea created by this leader and his Republican accomplices and excusers isdesigned to keep one off balance, fatigued and scared.

Ignorance and fear are driving a wedge across our nation and people seem more willing than ever to throw away the environment in pursuit of living wages. This has been the turning point for the conservative movement and the crystallization of their efforts to destroy unions, social safety nets and common sense regulation of industry. We are developing a nation of workers, who will work anyway, on any terms, to survive. Nothing has had more direct impact on conservation and protection of species than the destruction of the middle-class that began in earnest during the Reagan years.

We need a society once again that is based in justice and fairness, we need corporations that are forced by rule of law to pay real wages and benefits to all that work for them and we must understand that a stock market built on mergers and acquisitions and returns to shareholders is not good for the environment, because it is killing our middle-class.

Last week I ran into our junior Senator Martin Heinrich, Martin has always been and remains a strong supporter of the environmental causes such as wilderness and monument protections and has been a friend for more than 18 years. When I ran into him I made a proposal, which he said he would give real thought to.

I told him that under the Obama Administration, Republicans continued to introduce legislation no matter if it could pass because they believed in putting down markers and growing their base with legislation that they supported.

In that vein, I suggested that he introduce a package of legislation that was designed to enhance our middle-class and to support a real vision for environmental protection. No half steps, a real vision, something to inspire those who believe in protections for environment and security and jobs for workers across the country, because we cannot continue to see them as separate causes.

The environmental community often brings in different voices when they need support for wilderness or other conservation measures, but the link now is vital and must be reciprocal.

We must support minimum wages and job training and we must demand a real social safety net that is expanded, not chopped. In the conservation realm, we must introduce legislation that is inspiring and designed to capture our nation’s imagination.

Here are a few suggestions, humbly put forth:

  • An end to offshore drilling in the Arctic, our East and West coasts.
  • The immediate protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • 50% increase in investment in alternative energy by 2020.
  • More tax cuts for electric cars and solar.
  • Funding that will completely end the backlog of maintenance for our National Parks in three years.
  • Expansion of our National Park System to include a major Tall Grass Prairie Park of no less than 500,000 acres and three new sites for National Park expansion, not just upgrading an area.
  • Legislation that demands the use of science in classroom textbooks nationwide.
  • Protections to remain and expanded for the threated Monuments on land and in the ocean and a directive to create 10 new Monuments by 2021.
  • Serious funding and legislation for Climate Change and a return to the Paris accords as a leader.
  • No dispersing of the Interior Department across the nation.
  • The directive and funding to increase wilderness in America by 35% by 2024.
  • The end of predator species killing and killing in their dens, period.
  • Expansion of wolf recovery to all Western states.
  • Increase in fees to ranchers for using public lands.
  • Monies for a new restoration and training program designed for rural and ranching communities to restore public lands, waters, andriparian areas. These monies would come from new taxes on the oil and gas industry.
  • 50 million in funding to purchase grazing rights across the West, with more to come by increasing grazing fees.
  • The immediate end to Wildlife Services, with that funding going directly to wildlife programs that support predator species.
  • The expansion and upgrading of the Endangered Species Act.
  • Direct reductions of oil and gas leases by 50 percent by 2020 on public lands.
  • Creating an increase of funding to the EPA by 45% by 2020.
  • Real legislation to control and regulate pesticides in America and increased funding for organic farming, including increased tax incentives.

To do this and to improve the plight of all Americans Congress must move to end the tax cut imposed by Republicans this past December and more taxes must be placed directly on the top 1%.

Increase spending for birth control her at home and internationally.

Stop all the giveaways to corporate America and force them to return monies to American shores.

More taxes must be placed directly on the fossil-fuel industry and that of Power companies that continue to use coal in their power generation.

We must put a direct tax on the use of plastics, plastic bags and the companies that create them, largely funded by the oil and gas industry.

The passage of a real HealthCare legislation (likely single payer), that will reduce the costs of healthcare for all Americans, while ensuring quality care for all. That will save money and create real equality.

Reducing the endless spending on the military, while investing in dialogue, diplomacy and respecting all nations. That common sense element will give us the money to protect our environment, here and abroad.

Finally, we must remove the control of Congress from complete Republican control.

More than anything we must understand the urgency of saving our environment and the strong need to end all the noise and distraction that is the toxic nature of this President and Congress.

We may not get it all, but my hope is that Senator Heinrich and the Democrats in Congress are prepared to be BOLD. It begins with a real vision and the strength to carry it forward.

If we do not act soon, it will simply be too late for this planet. We have no choice, we must be BOLD.

11 thoughts on “Stop the Noise

  1. The best thing about the earth is if you poke holes in it, oil and gas come out. (Republican Congressman Steve Stockman)

    Old-growth forests remind me of an old folk’s home, just waiting to die. (Official of the Reagan administration)

    If you’ve seen one redwood, you’ve seen them all. (President Ronald Reagan)

    When I ran for President four years ago, I pledged to end welfare as we know it. I have worked very hard for four years to do just that. (President Bill Clinton)

    NAFTA means jobs, American jobs, and good-paying jobs. (President Bill Clinton)

    That is a really crappy thing to do to the people who poured their hearts into his campaign and administration. (Matt Stoller on President Obama’s Wall Street speaking fees of $400,000 per speech.)

    To put it as bluntly and charitably as we can, Obama was no FDR when it came to Wall Street reform. (Wall Street on Parade)

    This post is a sober assessment of the state of the country under Trump with a list of demands for change.

    However, as bad as Trump is, much of what is going on is not completely new with his administration. Some of the regulations that have been cut and the laws that are being proposed were just waiting for Republican control of the White House and Congress. And some Democratic accomplishments are being cut back or overturned.

    One problem is that corporate America is running amok, as exemplified in Big Ag’s slaughter industry. It illustrates some of the issues Capra complains about. Slaughterhouses flout every section and regulation of the Humane Slaughter Act, from the moment animals are forced onto transport trucks until they bleed out on the kill floor. The horrors have been documented by undercover whistleblowers, by investigative reporters, and by affidavits from the workers themselves. Instead of receiving code violations and punishments, Big Ag allows the facilities to speed up the lines even faster for profits at the expense of greater animal suffering.

    Most slaughterhouses are now in small rural towns in right-to-work states that are not friendly to unions. The workers are largely undocumented immigrants. Tyson’s was even indicted for a plan to smuggle workers in from Mexico. The immigrant workforce, often not speaking English or aware of their rights, are frequently exploited and threatened with deportation if they complain or report work injuries. The low pay and deplorable working conditions have turned the job into another one that American workers do not want.

    However, the industry is hoping to turn increasingly to robots. Scott manufacturing has already developing a lamb boning machine. It’s hard to know if the animals’ fate will even be worse when further mechanized, but a few hundred thousand workers could be out of their dismal jobs.

    So, there have been repeated documentation of egregious animal abuse and violations of workers’ rights by Big Ag. Why does this continue? It may not be on the radar of conservatives, but it certainly lies within the purview of liberals who flaunt their social justice credentials and are usually more compassionate about animal abuse. Where are the calls for reform of this whole industry? I, for one, have not heard legislators condemn the USDA on behalf of the tortured animals or Big Ag on behalf of the exploited workers. It just may have something to do with the wealth and power of Big Ag and its army of lobbyists.

    But that is just one example.

    Many of the steps and programs called for in this post—shoring up the safety net, increasing minimum wage, preservation of middle-class jobs, environmental protection, and limited gas and oil drilling off-shore and in refuges and fragile wilderness areas—again, are programs that are usually promoted by and voted for by Democrats, but this was some of the work left undone by previous administrations.

    In fact, the failure of the Democrats to focus on the interests of the middle-class, the plight of the Rust Belt residents and the poor, along with their cozy relationship with Wall Street and corporate America, helped to usher in the Trump debacle.

    I wish the plans outlined in this post could be turned into reality. But looking at the proposals for the Department of the Interior alone makes me despair:

    1. “No dispersing of the Interior Department across the nation.” I would be happy if they could get a Secretary of the Interior that wasn’t on the side of the drillers, extractors, hunters, and land-grabbing ranchers.

    2. Increase in wilderness areas by 35%. Would this be true wilderness or “wilderness” with roads, hunting, trapping, snowmobiling, and campgrounds?

    3. End killing of predators and hunting animals/cubs in dens, along with expansion of wolf reintroduction. Good luck with that one in the face of the wolf haters, the ranchers demanding more grazing land in wildlife areas, and the hunters who fear the wolves will eat all the deer and elk.

    4. Increase in fees to ranchers for using public lands to graze their cattle. As of January 2016, Clivan Bundy still owed 1 million dollars.

    In a polarized country with powerful corporate influence, can Capra’s proposed programs ever be carried out?

    • Excellent post. I truly have no use for either party, and a lot of what we are seeing today is just the steady downhill slide for the environment.

      We need a new party, a third party – the Wild party!!! 🙂

  2. Once again the existential issue of human overpopulation is completely ignored by people who know better, but apparently lack the intestinal fortitude to even start the discussion. Poverty thrives in larger families. Overcrowding invites stress, violence and disease. Wildlife habitat, and by extension, species extinction is being driven by the expotential increase in human populations. We are currently at 7.3 billion on this planet, and even with a minor decrease in fertility, the already-existing numbers of people who havent even reached child- bearing age is a undeniable and disturbing fact. Why cant we see and refuse to admit that humans cant mindlessly reproduce? We are living beyond our environmental means, both by consumption and reproduction. So- called environmentalists should summon up the courage to begin a dialogue about human overpopulation while it can still be done in a respectful, humane and democratic manner.

    • Right, although we’re probaby at closer to at 7.4 by now. Why is it that most people (in this case hunters) are quick to point out when animals are overpopulated and have reached their carrying capacity, but they won’t see it for humans. Oh yeah, they’re speciesists and are in denial.

    • Absolutely true. But political correctness has made the subject toxic. The result of overpopulation is visible around in planet in the devastation of forests, the loss of wildlife habitat to development, the ocean filling up with junk, poverty, regional warfare, and migration.

      But business calls for endless growth, and conservative groups accuse proponents of birth control of being misanthropes and racists.

      Edward Abbey had it right. He said growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.

      We can’t even seem to fight the malignancy.

  3. My feeling is to hell with both parties. And just for the record, I’m not a racist, but a misanthrope. I hate all humanity equally for what we are doing to this planet.

  4. Or what we are doing and have done, I should say. The biggest threat, and the most easily remedied, sadly, is beef and meat eating – the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases, and biggest threat to wildlife, as well as unethical for the animals themselves. As our mindless population (or the communal-minded Borg mentality) continues to grow, it will get even worse.. But we do not have the will to stop, and putting up a few windmills here and there isn’t going to offset it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s