Friday, January 08, 2016

Rugged Individualism and Government Subsidies

In this good article, posted in The Wildlife News on January 7, 2016  George Wuerthner points out government subsidy dollars ranchers and the rest of us benefit from that should be obvious to any curious person. The problem may be that many are not open to discussing the pros and cons of these subsidies, especially as they relate to the past, current and future degradation of local, regional and global ecosystems.

Regarding the "past" and "current" times it is also sobering to read about the U.S. Government, land speculators, ranchers, towns, etc., history of  greed for land and power that decimated the Native American tribes as the United States was being developed from the time of the first European settlements and also via the concept of "Manifest Destiny" and Western expansion and interventionism in the 19th century.

I try to imagine what America and our world would be like if the Native American cultures and attitudes about land and wildlife, had been recognized as equal to the early European "invaders."  Personally, I believe future generations will condemn this embarrassing history.

 I found an "Indian Country Today Media Network site with this animated map that illustrates the amount of land still recognized as being "Indian Lands" in 1784 and how that land was lost progressively through the 1800's to the present time.  It should be noted that the original cultures of the Native Americans today has been almost totally destroyed even if tribes still have rights to small reservation lands.  In partnership with Indians, we might have learned valuable lessons about how to treat the land, wildlife, plants and our fellow humans.
The same Indian Country Today page noted above also provides the two maps below:

What the U.S. Indian Lands looked like before European Contact:
What the U.S. Indian Lands look like today.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

'Carbon Fee and Dividend' to mediate Human Caused Climate Change

Dr. James Hansen and others have advocated since 2008 for a "Carbon Fee and  Dividend" as a viable way to mediate human caused climate change. In my opinion Americans and global citizens should be made more aware of this concept, that it should be discussed widely and implemented as soon as possible.

Photo above by honoring Dr. Hansen for his leadership.

Dr. Hanson is writing a two part essay on this topic November 28 and 29, 2015, just before the Climate Talks in Paris starting December 1.  Here is a link to the first one on November 28.

"...fossil fuels appear cheapest to the consumer only because they do not incorporate their costs to society, including the effects of air pollution, water pollution and climate change. Economies are more efficient if energy prices are honest, including external costs in the price."

"A consequence of this fundamental truth is that climate change can be addressed at no net cost, indeed with economic gain, provided that true costs are added into the price gradually. A simple transparent way to do this is to collect an across-the-board (oil, gas, coal) carbon fee at domestic mines and ports of entry."

"If the funds collected are given in equal amount to all legal residents, the fee is revenue neutral and spurs the economy. This is a conservative approach, because it allows the market to assist change and it does not provide a dime to make government bigger."

Another article By Dr. Hansen provides a shorter summary on this topic titled:  "Environment and Development Challenges: The Imperative of a Carbon Fee and Dividend"

"This chapter discusses the importance of a carbon fee and dividend in minimizing the impacts of climate change on humanity and nature. Before outlining the policies needed to produce a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel emissions, it enumerates the fundamental flaws of the Kyoto Protocol from the standpoint of climate science... Specifically, it proposes a flat (across-the-board) rising fee (tax) on carbon emissions. It also explains how such an approach may be implemented both nationally and internationally."

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Internet Provides Networked Scientific Research Publishing.

I have been impressed by the Scientific Method for many years and now watch the Internet for information about scientific studies that are reputable, repeatable and peer reviewed.

This is an interesting article by Oliver Dumon with the title "

How the Internet Changed Science Research and Academic Publishing, Creating the New Research Economy

Dumon notes that "A more significant advancement in the past five years has been the emergence of "networked science" -- the concept that scientific content cannot, and should not, exist in a vacuum. Articles by different authors are now linked to banks of data sets, reference books, videos, presentations and audio tracks. Scientists and engineers representing a wide variety of cross-disciplines can debate research findings in online forums, and society will ultimately benefit from the resulting scientific discourse that will open up limitless new avenues for search and discovery."

Clearly transparency of data and fact checking is important, as some people try to negate important scientific evidence with studies that are not reputable, repeatable and peer reviewed.

Many important ecosystem issues I am deeply concerned about are subject to this negativistic effort to downgrade repeatable scientific evidence.  Human caused global warming is one example and there are many others.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

How important is it for citizens to know "What Science Is -- and How and Why It Works."

My final paper for my Master's Degree at Idaho State University contained an examination of a historical survey of "Operationism" and I found a definition as follows:

"Only those propositions based upon operations which are public and repeatable are admitted to the body of science." (Stevens, Theories in Contemporary Psychology, op.cit., p. 74.)

Neil deGrasse Tyson, a contemporary scientist, educator and entertainer reminds us of "What Science Is --and How and Why It Works" in this recent article in the Huffington Post.  The first sentence is " If you cherry-pick scientific truths to serve cultural, economic, religious or political objectives, you undermine the foundations of an informed democracy."

He notes that the scientific "approach to knowing did not take root until early in the 17th century when the astronomer Galileo and philosopher Sir Francis Bacon agreed: conduct experiments to test your hypothesis and allocate your confidence in proportion to the strength of your evidence. Since then, we would further learn not to claim knowledge of a newly discovered truth until multiple researchers, and ultimately the majority of researchers, obtain results consistent with one another."

And he ends the article identifying respected scientific agencies like NASA, NIST, DOE, and NOAA that we all depend on for reputable non-biased information in our contemporary world.  "These centers of research, as well as other trusted sources of published science, can empower politicians in ways that lead to enlightened and informed governance. But this won't happen until the people in charge, and the people who vote for them, come to understand how and why science works.

I found the following graphic on a 6th Grade Science Course in Greeley Colorado

Yellowstone Park Bison are culled to prevent them from following historic winter migration

I read an article on that "Yellowstone Park Proposes Cull of 1,000 Bison This Winter.

As in past years bison killed to prevent them from trespassing on traditional migration lands north of Yellowstone.  The report noted that "last year, park officials planned to kill up to 900 animals and actually removed 737.

This past summer I attended the Speak for Wolves meeting in West Yellowstone where the Buffalo Field Campaign presented graphic visual information about the continued hazing and senseless slaughter of wild bison in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Watch the video they produced below titled "Ten Miles of Hell"

Saturday, November 21, 2015

In early November, 2015 I read  "Sheldon Wolin and Inverted Totalitarianism" by  Chris Hedges in Common Dreams.

"Sheldon Wolin, our most important contemporary political theorist, died Oct. 21 at the age of 93. In his books “Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism” and “Politics and Vision,” a massive survey of Western political thought that his former student Cornel West calls “magisterial,” Wolin lays bare the realities of our bankrupt democracy, the causes behind the decline of American empire and the rise of a new and terrifying configuration of corporate power he calls “inverted totalitarianism.”

 People in the comments section of the article point to historical issues related to this topic.

A portion of student debt accumulates when a University mandates an athletic fee.

Today there is an interesting article by the Huffington Post and the Chronicle of Higher Education about "The Student Sports Scam."  A part of a student's debt can accumulate when Public Universities mandate an athletic fee, even if the student does not attend games.  The "scorecard" on this site posts some detailed information about how athletic departments are subsidized across the US and in Idaho, including Boise State.