Record-Breaking Wildfires, Greenland Melting and Earth’s Hottest Month Ever

The following article from covers all that I was going to go over in Part 2 of Global Warming: the Future is Now, so here’s this instead:

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Dahr Jamail | The World on Fire:

The US is now officially in the worst wildfire season in its history, as almost 7.5 million acres across the country have burned up since spring.

Articles about ACD’s impacts are now being published in more mainstream outlets, carrying titles that include verbiage like “the point of no return,” and it is high time for that, given what we are witnessing.

A recently published study by the UK-US Taskforce on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Reliance revealed that “major shocks” to worldwide food production will become at least three times more likely within the next 25 years due to increasingly extreme weather events generated by ACD. One of the coauthors of the report warned of a “very frightening” future due to the synthesis of ACD and food demands from a constantly growing global population.

Meanwhile, July officially became the hottest month ever recorded on the planet, setting 2015 on course to easily become the hottest year ever recorded.

This month’s dispatch is replete with evidence of our growing crisis, including record-breaking amounts of ice being released from Greenland, more species under threat of extinction, and millions of acres of the planet burning up in wildfires across North America alone.


A trove of papers recently released in the journal Science have warned that the planet’s forests are all under major threat of being annihilated, due to the ever-expanding human footprint, coupled with ACD. The introduction to the studies reads: “These papers document how humans have fundamentally altered forests across the globe and warn of potential broad-scale future declines in forest health, given increased demand for land and forest products combined with rapid climate change.”

Speaking of which, another recent report, this one coming from the Center for Global Development, showed that the planet is on a trajectory to lose an amount of tropical forest land equivalent to the size of India by 2050.

Meanwhile, geologists with the US Geological Survey and researchers from the University of Vermont recently showed that Washington DC is, quite literally, sinking into the sea. “It’s ironic that the nation’s capital – the place least responsive to the dangers of climate change – is sitting in one of the worst spots it could be,” senior author of the paper, Paul Bierman, said. “Will the Congress just sit there with their feet getting ever wetter?”

At the moment, the answer to his question is obvious: The lawmakers that frequent our capital city are making no bold moves to address that city’s flooded future.

Food production, as aforementioned, is being dramatically undermined by ACD. In Nigeria, the country’s ability to feed itself is rapidly diminishing due to higher temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns. At least half the farmers there had been unable to even plant their crops at the time of this writing.

Animal species continue to bear the brunt of ACD all over the globe as well.

A recent study showed that in the UK, ACD is generating severe droughts that have placed several species of butterflies there at risk of extinction.

Another report showed how a disease spreading rapidly across the planet’s tadpole populations is now threatening the global frog population. Scientists who authored the report warn that this is further evidence of the sixth great extinction event the earth is now experiencing.

Another dismaying development: The ever-shrinking area of sea ice is deleteriously impacting the Arctic’s walrus population. This season could see another dramatic beaching event like that of last summer, in which 35,000 walruses dragged themselves out of the sea and onto a beach due to lack of sea ice.

Meanwhile, the ongoing drought in California has caused an “emergency situation” for trees in that state, as lack of water is causing unprecedented die-offs. The drought there is also wiping out several of the native fish populations, of which many are expected to disappear within the next two years if the drought persists.

Lastly in this section, unprecedented heat coupled with an intense drought has caused “glacial outbursts” on Washington State’s Mount Rainier. “Outbursts” occur when large pools of ice-melt form within the glaciers, then plunge from within the glacier, sending torrents of silt-filled water, boulders and trees down the slopes of the mountain, wiping out anything in its path.

While these outbursts have happened periodically throughout history, they are expected to increase in both frequency and severity as ACD progresses.


As usual, circumstances on the water front continue to worsen around the planet.

In the Pacific Northwestern region of the US, over a quarter million sockeye salmon heading up the Columbia River have either died or are in the process of dying due to warmer water temperatures. Biologists warn that at least half of this year’s returning fish will be wiped out, and ultimately as much as 80 percent of the total fish population could perish. Both Oregon and Washington states have already instituted closures of sport fishing due to the warmer waters and drought conditions persisting in both states.

In the Eastern Pacific Ocean, a giant bloom of toxic algae that is a threat to the health of both ocean species and humans alike spans from southern California all the way up to Alaska. Researchers are linking the size and intensity of the bloom to ACD. The bloom is already killing off sea lions that inhabit the coast and is still not showing signs of going away. Researchers said it was the largest bloom they had ever seen.

A report showed how ACD is in the process of rapidly reversing a natural phenomenon of 1,800 years of ocean cooling, while another study revealed that ocean acidification will continue and likely worsen, even if carbon sequestration and cleanup efforts were to begin in an immediate and dramatic fashion.

Back on land, droughts around the globe continue to make headlines.

One in Puerto Rico, that continues to worsen, has caused that country’s government to extend its dramatic water rationing measures, which have now been ongoing for weeks.

A study published in Geophysical Research Letters unequivocally linked California’s severe drought to ACD, saying that ACD has already “substantially increased” both the frequency and intensity of future droughts.

More news around the California drought emerged, showing that the river that runs through San Jose, the 10th largest city in the US, has dried up completely, severely harming fish and wildlife dependent on the water for their survival.

NASA released findings showing that California’s Central Valley, where the bulk of all the farming in the state takes place, is literally sinking, due to how much groundwater is being drawn out to compensate for the drought conditions. It is yet another destructive feedback loop: ACD has caused the drought to be far more severe than normal, which has caused humans to over-pump groundwater, leading to the sinking of the land.

The world’s glaciers are in peril. A disturbing report has shown that they have shrunk to their lowest levels ever witnessed in the history of record-keeping. They are melting at an accelerating rate – two to three times faster than the 20th century average melt rate.

As if to punctuate the findings of the report, the world’s fastest-melting glaciers, located in Greenland, recently lost the largest amount of ice on record in just a 48-hour period.

As a result of the incredible melting rates of glaciers, snowpack and ice fields around the globe, sea levels are now rising faster than ever.

Thus, as recently released research shows, global communities and cities located on river deltas – which includes over a quarter of a billion people – are at risk and will have to relocate.


Given the extensive record-breaking drought that has afflicted most of the western US, the fact that this summer’s fire season came in with a roar came as little surprise. Hardly halfway through the summer, fires across California, Washington, Colorado and in Glacier National Park in Montana were making headlines.

By early August, nearly 10,000 firefighters in California alone were battling at least 20 wildfires that had already forced more than 13,000  people to evacuate their homes.

Shortly thereafter, thousands of wildfires were raging across drought-plagued California, and before the middle of the month, a staggering 300,000 new acres were burning each day up in Alaska, where fires had scorched over 6 million acres thus far in the year, and hundreds of fires continued to burn. That makes this year already the second-largest wildfire season in Alaska’s history, with more of the summer remaining.

Reports have emerged warning of the impact of the fires upon Alaska’s permafrost: They have removed millions of acres of the tundra and forest that previously protected the frozen ground.

In early August, the US Forest Service announced that for the first time in the history of that department, it needed to spend over half of its entire budget on fighting wildfires.

Despite this, given the record-breaking drought conditions across the west, large numbers of the fires were left to burn out of control, due to high winds, dry conditions, and lack of fire-fighting capabilities and resources.


In case anyone had any doubt about how hot the planet is already becoming, the Iranian city of Bandar Mahshahr experienced a heat index of 165 degrees in August, nearly setting a world record for heat index measurements, which factor in humidity along with temperature.

In July, incredibly hot temperatures in Tajikistan caused a rapid melting of glaciers, which triggered flooding and mudslides that generated nearly 1,000 ACD refugees.

Meanwhile, across the Middle East in August, more than 20 people died and nearly 100 had to be hospitalized due to incinerating heat that baked the region, along with intense humidity levels. Basra, Iraq, saw 123 degrees, and the Iraqi government had to instate a four-day “holiday” so people wouldn’t feel obliged to work in the stifling heat.

Lastly in this section, a recent report stated that Texas will likely see a dramatic escalation in heat-related deaths and coastal extreme storm-related losses in the upcoming decades due to escalating ACD impacts.

Denial and Reality

There is never a dull moment in the “Denial and Reality” section.

Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton’s stated plan to address abrupt ACD, which amounts to federal subsidies for solar panels, was immediately labeled as “silly” in early August, just after Clinton’s plan was announced, by leading climate scientist James Hansen, who headed NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies for more than three decades.

“You cannot solve the problem without a fundamental change, and that means you have to make the price of fossil fuels honest, “Hansen said of her plan. “Subsidizing solar panels is not going to solve the problem.”

During a recent forum, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz went on the record expressing full-on denial of ACD, saying that the debate about ACD was a “device” used by liberals to appeal to “environmentalist billionaires and their campaign donations.”

On another front, builders in San Francisco are moving forward with plans to construct major bay-front developments of office space and homes worth more than $21 billion, in areas that are extremely susceptible to flooding – despite dire warnings of imminent sea-level rise.

On the bad news front for the deniers, however, a recent study showed there is absolutely no link between sunspot activity and ACD … a fabricated argument the deniers enjoy trotting out to try to “disprove” reality.

More bad news for the deniers comes, once again, from the Pope, who set up an annual Catholic Church “day of care” for the environment. The Pope said the day would be a chance for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to “thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”

And Catholics aren’t the only faith leaders working to do something to address ACD.

Islamic religious and environmental leaders from around the world recently issued a call to rich countries, along with those that are oil producers, to end all fossil fuel use by 2050 and to begin rapidly ramping up the institution and use of renewable energy sources.

The Islamic leadership, which issued “The Islamic Climate Declaration,” said the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims have “a religious duty to fight climate change.”

The final blow to ACD deniers in this month’s dispatch comes from none other than the US Department of Defense, which issued a report to Congress that said that ACD poses a “present security threat” that is not only a “long-term risk,” but poses immediate short-term threats as well.


Obama defends Arctic drilling decision on eve of Alaska climate change trip

Barack Obama has been forced to defend his decision to allow the hunt for oil in the last great wilderness of the Arctic, on the eve of an historic visit to Alaska intended to spur the fight against climate change.

The three-day tour – which will include a hike across a shrinking glacier and visits to coastal communities buffeted by sea-level rise and erosion – was intended to showcase the real-time effects of climate change.

But a defensive White House was forced to push back against campaigners who accuse Obama of undermining his environmental agenda by giving the go-ahead to Shell to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea, only weeks after rolling out his signature climate change plan.

Obama would use the visit to draw public attention to those consequences: the retreat of sea ice, land loss due to melting permafrost and coastal erosion, increasingly severe storms and growing risk of wildfires.

Climate Change Downplayers are Almost as Bad as Outright Deniers

In terms of potential harm to the planet, these so-called “experts” (often with no direct knowledge of how the weather is supposed to behave or how far off kilter things have gotten these days) are sometimes as bad for the planet as outright deniers…

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash. (AP) – Seattleites without air conditioning aren’t the only ones suffering from record-setting temperatures this summer.

The glacier-covered faces of Mount Rainier are melting faster than usual this year, creating conditions on the mountain more like August or September just a few days into July….

Things have been looking different for the last 40 years, at least, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report that found Mount Rainier glaciers had lost 14 percent of their volume from 1970 to 2008.

But while global warming is fingered for shrinking glaciers, it may not be behind the most recent hot weather, according to University of Washington atmospheric science professor Cliff Mass.

Mass said the warmer weather over roughly the last year – and especially the last few weeks – is so out of the ordinary that it can only be attributed to natural variations in weather.

“If you have a very, very extreme situation, global warming can’t be the cause of most of it,” Mass said. “Global warming isn’t large enough to be the cause of it.”


Also see:

No, Arctic sea ice is not going to be okay

One of the most obvious effects of global climate change is that it’s causing ice to melt all over the world, especially at the planet’s frozen poles. Ice losses have been observed for years now in glaciers and ice sheets, as well as in Arctic sea ice — the ice that floats on top of the ocean. In a confusing twist, though, new research published Monday is showing that there was a large increase in Arctic sea ice in 2013, rather than a decrease.

It’s just the kind of news often seized upon by climate skeptics as a way to undermine the concept of anthropogenic global warming. However, making sense of these observations requires a deeper understanding of long-term trends in sea ice and the factors that affect it from one year to the next.

Overall, Arctic sea ice has experienced a decreasing trend since the 1970s — however, its extent still fluctuates slightly from one year to the next depending on local climate-related conditions, sometimes increasing a bit from one year to the next, and other times decreasing. Despite these little annual fluctuations, the overall trend observed for decades now still shows that we’re losing ice in the long term.


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:


It’s Not Rocket Science, Warmer Oceans = Stronger Hurricanes

Meteorologists have for the most part been ducking the topic of global warming in relation to Hurricane Sandy in the same way that biologists try to steer clear of the subject of animal sentience or the AMA avoids any mention of the link between the consumption of animal products and the increased rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancers in this country.

History’s greatest scientists have all been free-thinkers, unafraid of pushing the limits of human understanding. But it seems most out there today are content in their mediocrity—let’s not have anything groundbreaking or earthshattering interfere with business as usual, interrupt the flow of funding or threaten a precious reputation.

Yet, a few scientists are beginning to tip-toe gingerly into the fray by tentatively linking “Superstorm” Sandy to the effects of the unprecedented anthropogenic increase of carbon in the atmosphere and the subsequent weather extremes we’ve been seeing in recent decades.

According to an October 30th blog post in Scientific American, “Scientists have long taken a cautious stance, but more are starting to drop the caveat and link climate change directly to intense storms and other extreme weather events, such as the warm 2012 winter in the eastern U.S. and the frigid one in Europe at the same time. They are emboldened because researchers have gotten very good in the past decade at determining what affects the variables that create big storms.”

In answer to just how Hurricane Sandy was intensified by global warming, Scientific American explains: “Climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms. For example, the oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms. And the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into storms and is then dumped on us.”

Additionally, climate scientists, such as Charles Greene at Cornell University, have recently shown that as more Arctic sea ice melts in the summer—because of global warming—the Jet Stream is more likely to take the kind of big southward dip in the U.S., Canada and the Atlantic that occurred during hurricane Sandy.

The term, “global warming,” adds to the confusion of naysayers who point to wintertime cold temperatures and freak blizzards as “proof” that the Earth is not really getting warmer. A clearer name for the contentious phenomenon would be “atmospheric warming” or “ocean warming,” since that’s what’s really happening and because that’s scientifically indisputable. Warming ocean temperatures are responsible for the climate changes affecting us all on the land, but of course, one overly-successful species, who shall remain nameless (okay, it’s Homo sapiens), is ultimately responsible for heating up the atmosphere and the oceans to begin with.

Humans can no longer plead ignorance. Back in 2007 a Scientific American article by Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, wrote an article titled, “Warmer Oceans, Stronger Hurricanes.” He concluded that although the number of Atlantic hurricanes each year might not rise, the strength of them would. And according to Munich Re, one of the world’s largest insurance firms, “Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity.”

Oliver Stone, the acclaimed writer/director of pioneering films such as Platoon, JFK, Nixon, and W, called Sandy “punishment for Obama and Romney ignoring climate change.” In an interview with HuffPost Live on Tuesday, the filmmaker expressed dismay that neither presidential candidate has been willing to talk about global warming, either before or after the superstorm that ravaged the entire East Coast and beyond. Stone hopes the storm’s silver lining is that President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, pull a U-turn on climate change.

“I was a little disappointed at the third debate when neither of them talked about climate control and the nature of the situation on earth,” Stone said. “I think there’s a kind of a weird statement coming right after it. This is a punishment. Mother Nature cannot be ignored.”

It Ain’t Gonna be Pretty

Over the ages, humans have more than proved their point—they’re the dominant ones. Nowadays they’re just rubbing Nature’s face it in. But they won’t feel so dominant when Mother Nature decides to really put up a fight. Once she gets started, it ain’t gonna be pretty, and man, you’ll curse the day you were born. It’s not like she hasn’t given plenty of fair warning, but every time she summons up an epic hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, humans react like a ants at  an anthill, and scurry to raise their levees, dikes and sea walls a little higher and rebuild their off-shore oil platforms.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed over 100 off-shore oil rigs (one of which floated for 50 miles before coming to rest in the shallows), while this year’s Isaac put 44 of them out of commission. The financial pages were quick to share the news that the Gulf of Mexico oil production was reduced by 901,726 barrels per day as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Yet the media barely covered the massive oil spills then, and we never heard much about the half million gallons of oil that sloshed into the Gulf after Hurricane Ike in Texas. Nor is there ever much talk of the persistent leaks and pollution that comes from the rigs; spills of more than 60,000 gallons scarcely make the news outside southern Louisiana.

It wasn’t long ago that there were no oil platforms in that pristine body of water that’s been a spawning ground for blue fin tuna and home to sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and an astounding array of bird life. Now oil derricks in the Gulf are considered a fact of life—but the ecosystem has suffered dearly for it.

Are we going to see a repeat of this scenario in the Arctic, now that anthropogenic climate change has caused the polar icecap to retreat far enough that the President just approved Shell oil to start drilling up there?

Carbon is a waste product of life and the atmosphere needs a certain amount of it to keep temperatures comfortable enough for life to thrive here. Yet never before in the long history of the earth has one species tapped into the vast pools and veins of carbon, safely stored underground for millions of years, and lit a match to it.  Now the one species who prides itself in being smarter than the others is using up its limited brain capacity devising ways to commandeer the planet’s carrying capacity, while smothering the atmosphere with the carbon of the eons in just a few short centuries.

From fashioning the first tools out of stone (a feat that our vegan cousins the bonobos have accomplished as well) to learning to raise food crops, experimentation has brought our species to where it is today. But now we’ve turned the whole planet into our own personal petri dish. God only knows what sort of punishment Mother Nature has in store for us when she wearies of our infernal domination games.

Hey Humans, Slow the Fuck Down

The following is the first of a series on Deniers and the Damage They Do…


By now you’ve more than likely read that the Arctic Ocean’s floating sea ice has already retreated to a record minimum.  And you’ve probably heard that every scientist who hasn’t been bought off agrees: global warming is to blame. And you might have even heard that Greenpeace activists have been staging protests and attaching themselves to oil rigs and ice breakers en-route to the polar region. You may already be one of the 1.6 million people who have signed the group’s online petition urging world leaders to declare the Arctic a global sanctuary, off limits to oil exploration and industrial fishing. And there’s an off-chance you’re one of the dozens of celebrities, including Robert Redford, Paul McCartney and Penelope Cruz, who have announced your support for Greenpeace’s campaign.

The following map and excerpt from a Science News article titled, “Arctic sea ice hits record low and keeps going,” reveals the present status of the Arctic ice cap. The average ice coverage for the 21 years between 1979 and 2000 is demarked by the orange line that can be seen running from the Greenland Sea, west and north of Svalbard, through the Laptev Sea to Russia’s Wrangel Island and through the Beaufort Sea to the Canadian Archipelago. The difference between that area and the area presently covered by ice is at best, shocking. … 

The six lowest sea-ice extents on satellite record have occurred in just the last six years. More melt means more open water exposed to sunlight. In turn, that water absorbs more heat and causes feedback loops that heat the Arctic even more.

As of August 26, Arctic sea ice covered 70,000 square kilometers below the previous satellite-era record from 2007, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo.

“The ice cover is now just so thin and weak in the springtime that large parts of it can’t survive the melt season,” says NSIDC director Mark Serreze.

Arctic sea ice grows in winter and melts partly away each summer. Overall, more sea ice has been lost each year as temperatures rise. From 1979 to 2011, the amount of sea ice left in September at the end of each melt season dropped by an average of 12 percent per decade.

The ice isn’t just shrinking; it’s also thinning. The Arctic used to contain lots of thick ice — some 3 to 4 meters thick — that survived year after year. Now it’s dominated by thinner ice only 1 to 2 meters thick and just one to two summers old. “It’s almost like parts of the Arctic have become a giant slushee at this time of year,” says Walt Meier, a sea ice expert at NSIDC.

In 2007, the previous record year, winds, cloud cover and other weather conditions were just right for a lot of ice to melt away. “There were a number of people saying [2007] was a one-off and you’ll never see this perfect storm again,” says Serreze. “What Mother Nature is telling us is that you don’t need a perfect storm anymore, just because the ice is so thin now.” …


Meanwhile, in answer to these new conditions, oil companies are poised to begin installing offshore oils rigs and drilling in the backyards of walrus and polar bears. Greenpeace and other environmental groups say an oil spill in the Arctic could cause irreparable damage to wildlife and marine ecosystems. That’s no shit. With a brief growing season and comparatively little seawater circulation, the Arctic Ocean must be one the most delicate environs on the planet.

Fears that the oil industry is unprepared to operate in the hostile conditions of the far north where storms are frequent were accentuated when a floating oil rig capsized off eastern Russia last December, killing more than 50 workers.

Surely halting any new oil and gas drilling in the fragile north is an important step in solving the world’s problems. But considering that the loss of the polar ice cap is a direct result of global warming, and global warming is a direct result of human activities (chiefly the burning of fossil fuels for energy, transportation and meat production), wouldn’t the real answer be to put a halt to ALL further oil exploration and drilling everywhere? When you take into account that further planetary warming could well result in a steady flow of cold Arctic melt-water into the North Atlantic, thereby disrupting the deep sea conveyer that cycles weather as we know it, while fueling the very vitality of the living oceans, the answer must be a resounding, if reluctant “Yes!”

So what does all this have to do with deniers and the damage they do?

Chances are if you’ve heard of global warming, you’ve heard of global warming deniers. Maybe you are one yourself. If so, it’s time to wake up and smell the methane! The planet can’t wait for people to quit bickering and decide to make some major changes. If we don’t curtail our daily carbon output and change our consumptive ways, the climate is going to change for us, and leave our mechanized world in the dust.

Like “young Earth” creationists who still deny evolution because they don’t like to think of humans as mere animals, or hunters who don’t want to admit their species’ role in the ongoing extinction spasm, global warming deniers don’t want to accept humankind’s hand in radically changing the climate—to the detriment of all who’ve adapted to it over the eons. It’s time to evolve out of this hyper age of planes, trains and automobiles, put away our motorbikes, jet boats and snowmobiles along with the rest of our gas-burning toys, slow the fuck down and try to live at pace more in keeping with the rest of this living planet—while we still have one.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

The Root of All Evil

Cattle ranchers in northeast Washington call for the renewed extermination of wolves, a species extinct from the area until recently thanks to shallow minds and destructive policies. Meanwhile, commercial fishermen take every opportunity to shoot protected seals and sea lions they view as competition for the fish their nets drag in by the thousands. And news that the Arctic sea ice has retreated to an all-time historic low, due to climate change wrought by the burning of fossil fuels, factory farming and a host of other human-induced hazards, only emboldens oil companies to drill offshore there and tempts industrialists from U.S., Canada, Beijing and beyond to use the fragile polar waters as a new shipping route.

It appears that Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand aren’t the only ones who think selfishness is a virtue.

Loath to share with other species what they see as their entitlements, animal exploiters think nothing of calling for the annihilation of long-besieged predators like wolves. Washington state rancher, Bill McIrvin told the Capital Press he is hoping for a total deletion of the Wedge Pack: “If we can get this pack removed, hopefully we’ll have long enough that people in Washington can wake up and see what’s going to happen to our game and our livelihood.”

The attitude, adopted by ‘wise use’ resource extractors across the board, goes something like, “Our ancestors massacred the wolves for our benefit, now the ‘game’ and the land are ours to do with as we see fit.” It’s the same self-centered stance taken by fishermen against marine mammals. Never mind that those intelligent Earthlings were mercilessly slaughtered during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, today’s ocean exploiters see them as nothing more than rivals for ‘their’ fish. Meanwhile oilmen disregard all other animal life, and the very climate on which we all depend, in the single-minded veneration of the almighty dollar.

Yet, a dollar in and of itself is just a neutral marker of means. Money, like a gun, depends on human intent to unleash its devastating power.

No, I’m afraid to say, Mr. Ryan, selfishness is not a virtue—it’s the real the root of all evil.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson