A GLOBAL WARMING UPDATE:
By most accounts, Al Gore’s "Global Earth" concert
was an underwhelming success. While large crowds turned out for the
concerts, most of them were there for the music and understood little
of the message that came with it. Outside the USA, the young crowds
blinked blandly at Gore’s impassioned message and failed to grasp
or even consider his urgency. Many didn’t even know who he was.
Rock bands arrived by jet and limo and left the same way. Madonna fake
strummed her guitar and then went back to her castle.
Worldwide, television audiences were meager at best. According to
the BBC, ratings in Britain were abysmal. In the US, the three hour
event finished last in the Nielsons.
So was it the hypocrisy of the event that turned people off or is
it simply a matter of global apathy?
I vote the latter.
I’ve always considered myself a conservationist, but I’m
not sure my reasons for conserving have been as lofty or high-minded
as the likes of many affluent mainstream environmentalists. I’ve
conserved out of necessity more than any politically-driven agenda.
I don’t conserve to be hip; I conserve because I can’t
afford to do otherwise. I have determined to live modestly and conservatively
so I can still screw off and be lazy, as is my preference.
I live in a small house because it’s easy to maintain. I can
vacuum the cat hair in ten minutes. It’s economical to heat in
the winter and easy to cool in the summer. I live alone and don’t
use much water because I have better things to do than worry about
my lawn. I go to the laundromat once a month, whether I need to or
not. I flush every third time on average, because I forget to flush
the other two times. And no, I don’t put the seat down, which
has nothing to do with energy conservation but is an enlightening aside
and a warning to any woman out there who wants to make toilet seat
positioning an issue, political or otherwise.
Lately I’ve been having some thoughts on conservation, however,
that most of you will find shocking, even heretical. Recently I scanned
the headlines, searching for conservation stories and what I discovered
was noteworthy. In almost every instance, proposed water and energy
conservation measures were always linked to future population growth.
In Tucson, Arizona, for example, a report noted that, "the population
to be served by Tucson Water is projected to increase from 638,936
in 2000 to about 1.2 million in 2030 and 1.3 million in 2050." It
determined that massive conservation efforts must be initiated soon,
in order to deal with the population explosion that is already underway.
In Utah, the story is the same; our population is expected to double
by 2020. The Utah Rivers Council notes that, "the State of Utah
Division of Water Resources plans on meeting future water needs for
Utah through a combination of water conservation and development of
new water sources." URC proposed "meeting future water needs
by raising the water conservation goal to 30%, a 5% increase over the
current goal, combined with other creative approaches such as water
reuse and agricultural water transfers as a more cost-effective approach
to meeting future water needs."
So what is the broader, more long term purpose of conservation? Clearly,
it’s not so we can somehow bring this consumptive madness to
a halt and get back to our simpler roots. And it’s definitely
not so we can have more time to goof off. No indeed. According to all
these studies and warnings, our duty to conserve is based on the absurd
notion that we have some obligation to maintain a future population
almost double what it is now.
We’re conserving in 2007 so that we can help assure the very
nightmarish future we fear the most—a nation and a planet so
overpopulated as to eventually assure its destruction.
Consider these observations on population by former Senator Gaylord
Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, in a landmark 1997 essay,
What Will Happen to Wildlife Habitat?
Population growth has already destroyed half the nation’s
wetlands and the major portion of habitat for birds and other animals.
is something wrong with a society which remains complacent while this
kind of irrational destruction erodes its life-sustaining resource
base. With twice the current population, will there be left any wilderness
areas, remote and quiet places, and habitat for songbirds, waterfowl
and other wild creatures? Certainly not very much.
New Cities, Suburbs, Housing Developments:
At the rate of urbanization since 1977, the urbanized area of the
United States will double by about 2050 from 155,000 square miles to
about 312,000. This is an area larger than Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois,
Indiana, Ohio and Michigan combined. If we permit that to happen, what
will our country look like and be like?
National Parks, National Forests, Wildlife Refuges, BLM Lands and
With twice the population, what will happen to the last of our great
natural areas which are already experiencing serious degradation from
population pressures? The short answer is, they will be gone--rare
and special places like our national parks and national forests will
evolve into modified theme parks and Disneylands--the process is already
Despite water and energy conservation efforts, population growth will
still cause urban, suburban and exurban sprawl. Turning down your sprinklers
ultimately only assures more lawns. Cranking down the thermostat only
guarantees more air conditioners. Does anyone out there in the environmental
community advocate smaller homes? Or fewer gadgets? Of course not.
How could they? Environmental groups are funded by some of the most
consumptive billionaires on the planet.
Take a drive past the Moab hospital to see David Bonderman’s
latest 15000 square foot mansion. Bonderman, one of the most successful
corporate raiders in the world, also sits on numerous environmental
boards and has been called "the greatest conservationist in America
today," by one of his donor recipients, the Grand Canyon Trust.
As sprawl consumes more habitat, what chance does wildlife have by
the end of the century, if population growth is left unchecked?
As the demand for controlled adventure recreation grows, as a population
so disconnected from its natural past, yearns for distractions, ‘theme
park Disneylands" will continue to proliferate across the country.
And so..we’re supposed to CONSERVE, so all this can come to
Are we insane?
If we truly want a better future for our grandchildren, is this the
path to take? If I thought Bonderman’s greedy habits and those
of his pals were intended to bring all this madness to a precipitous
end, I could almost admire them. Maybe that’s why the Grand Canyon
Trust gushes such praise. Somehow though, I doubt it.
Instead, even the allegedly most enlightened among us, the leaders
of the environmental movement, continue to convince us that we can
save the planet by using energy efficient shower heads and buying a
STRESSED OUT BY ALL THIS?
RELIEF IS ON THE WAY!
So if all this grim news is stressing you to the limit, I have some
good news. Relief is as close as your very own STRESS ERASER. Never
mind simply breaking away from the Madness and taking in a nice sunset.
According to the inventor of this latest gadget, "ergotropic tuning
is a biological process that changes the way the nerves in your body
respond to stress...It causes your nerves to respond faster and more
strongly to stress."
What to do???
The makers of the STRESS ERASER have discovered that, "the secret
to stress-free living is found in reversing ergotropic tuning. From
a biological perspective, there is no other way."
Just 15 minutes a night, before bed, and we can all "experience
the joys of stress-free living as soon as possible."
The makers of this product guarantee that "you will feel good
again within 30 days," or they’ll refund your money. All
this for only $299 (plus shipping and handling).
Nevermind that the STRESS ERASER is just one more 21st Century electronic
device that provides a technological solution to spiritually and morally
bankrupt hearts, consumes electricity and requires the consumption
of more natural resources just to develop and construct it.
You can visit their web site at: www.StressEraser.com for your free
Just in case you think I’m making this shit up.
THE VORTEX of CIVILITY...REDUX
NOTE: I first penned this more than five years ago. An update follows...JS
With most of the peoples of the world angry at each other, and as
we sit on the brink of yet another war, is it any wonder that a sense
of hopelessness and despair permeates the battered spirit of any human
who takes the time to actually think about our dilemma? Nothing ever
seems to get better. We just run the cycle, over and over. Recently
I picked up a copy of LIFE magazine and turned to its table of contents.
The editorial for that issue was titled: "Palestine--Will we ever
find a solution?" The story recounted recent acts of senseless
violence and wondered if political manueverings on both sides could
ever result in a peaceful outcome. A few pages later, a reviewer criticized
the inane and violent aspects of recent media fare. Have we reached
rock-bottom when it comes to bad taste and displays of physical horror,
the writer asked.
The answer to both questions was--NO. I was reading a LIFE magazine
from 1948. A half century later, resolving the "Palestine Problem" is
just as elusive, the violence more intense than ever. In the media,
beautiful young women are eating horses’ rectums on national
television ("Fear Factor," NBC) and depictions of violent
behavior have never been more graphic or disgusting.
So is there any place on this planet that offers hope? Is there any
tiny corner of our Earth where resolution comes easy, where our differences
are set aside? Where we are all equal in each other’s eyes? My
friends...there is such a place and it was right under our noses...
The four-way stop.
It is truly a vortex of civility in a world-gone-mad. Total strangers,
who could be savage adversaries in another venue, come together at
a four-way stop and resolve what could otherwise be chaotic confusion.
It doesn’t matter if the other three participants in this Great
Experiment are of a different race, or political persuasion, or sexual
orientation. It doesn’t matter what kind of car they’re
driving or what their economic background is. We are not only all equal
at a four-way, we are incredibly and consistently respectful of each
other. We know how the four-way stop works and we live by that creed
So even Al Gore would yield to Ralph Nader at a four-way in Tallahassee.
Rush Limbaugh and Al Franken can find resolution there. Al Sharpton
and Trent Lott. Dr. Laura and Madonna. George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein...
Perhaps that’s stretching it a bit.
Of course there is that occasional deviant, who fails to abide by
the rule, who takes someone else’s turn in the rotation, but
even that aberrant behavior has a bonding effect on the others. When
that rare event occurs and a violation of the code is observed, note
the all-knowing glances that the other drivers give to each other. "That
poor fool," their eyes say to each other in quiet nods and gestures. "He
is not a member of the House of Civility." But even then, they
forgive him and go on.
We humans may quarrel endlessly and kill each other and lay waste
to the planet and show utter disregard for everything worthy of respect.
But if you ever despair to the point of giving up hope, get in your
car and find the nearest four-way stop and rejuvenate your spirit.
It’s the place where we all can just get along.
EPILOGUE: Last month, while visitng friends and family in Kentucky,
two drivers simultaneously arrived at a four-way stop. Unable to determine
who should go first, one of the men drew a semi-automatice pistol.
So did the other guy. When it was over, one of them was dead and the
other in custody. So much for the vortex of cilvility.
THE GREED FACTOR GETS ‘GREENER.’
Bert Fingerhut was as influential a member of the mainstream environmental
community as you might ever hope to find. Until recently he sat on
the board of directors of several environmental organizations, including
the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Grand Canyon Trust and the
He is also incredibly wealthy. If being a good environmentalist can
be measured by one’s monetary contributions, then Bert had few
peers. But Fingerhut resigned suddenly from those boards last spring.
On May 13, Bert Fingerhut pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy
to commit securities fraud. According to the Wall Street Journal, Fingerhut "made
$12 million over the past decade by trading in the IPOs of mutual savings
banks. He targeted banks that were about to go public and used the
names of friends and relatives to open accounts at the banks." He
targeted over 65 banks.
He was already rich...how much more did he need?
As part of the settlement, he agreed to return $11 million in illegally
obtained profits and faces 57 to 71 months in jail. Sentencing is in
September. U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said, "Fingerhut
used his Wall Street acumen to concoct a cunning scheme. He made millions
by robbing everyday depositors of an opportunity to which they were
entitled and deserved."
Bert Fingerhut is just one of a small group of stunningly wealthy
benefactors who finance America’s environmental organizations.
Is this what John Muir had in mind? Or Thoreau? Or Abbey? How many
of these environmental groups benefited from Fingerhut’s illegal
activity, albeit unwittingly?
This publication has, for years, expressed the concern that mainstream
environmentalists have lost touch with their grassroots. What more
proof can we offer? "Our side" complains bitterly about George
Bush and his cronies, but where is the outrage from Utah environmentalists,
when one of their leaders commits a crime? Shouldn’t that be
the point? That we hold our leaders to a higher standard?
Somebody show me the difference between the "good guys" and
the "bad guys." Please...
Follow these links to read more about Bert Fingerhut's guilty plea:
The Zephyr contacted SUWA board members Ted Wilson, Bill Hedden, Richard
Ingebretsen and Terry Tempest Williams for comment on Fingerhut's guilty
plea. We heard only from Ms. Williams who offered this for the record:
This news has saddened the entire conservation community. These
actions came as a cold shock.
Bert Fingerhut has been one of the great defenders of America's
redrock wilderness. His passion and leadership on behalf of Utah's
stands on its own. Bert is a friend. I feel great sadness for all
involved, especially his family....Terry Tempest Williams