Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quick thought from the Each One Teach One idea

© 2010 Joshua Stark

In responding to NorCal Cazadora in my previous post, in occurred to me that we could help solve the chicken-and-egg conundrum about hunters and environmentalists.

Oftentimes when I'm attending an environmental advocacy conference, I come across one or two people who would love to try fishing and/or hunting, but who don't know how to start.  I often also come across open-minded hunters who absolutely love having new folks to show hunting.  I propose, then, a Take an Environmentalist Hunting Day, and I mean that in the sincerest sense.

Many hunters believe that environmentalists and animal rights people are one and the same, but they are not.  In fact, I don't even consider animal rights advocacy part of the environmental movement (with a couple of notable exceptions, of course), although I must admit that the fact that many members of nonprofit environmental groups also tend to be knee-jerk members of animal rights groups, which clouds the situation.

Many environmentalists believe that hunters today are paramilitary members who spend part of each year in a compound in Idaho and worry about the New World Order.  However, they carry a romantic notion of the act of hunting, because they have grafted themselves to the Tree of Conservation, whose trunk is T.R. and Thomas Seton, and whose roots are their romantic notions of subsistence hunters and pre-Columbian folks in North America.  They know that deep within their love of the wild exists a need to be the wild, to be a part of it in the most natural way possible, through getting some of their sustenance from it.  They may salve that empty part of their hearts by telling their conscious selves that this is a New Era, and that hunting, today, doesn't have the same spirit and heart, but many long for the experience.

What happens, then, when we introduce enthusiastic environmentalists with the likes of Holly at NorCal Cazadora, Hank at Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook, Phillip at the Hog Blog, or Tovar Cerulli?  And there are many, many more like them, ready to share their love for hunting and what it provides, physically, mentally, emotionally, and in some cases, spiritually.

Hunters, if you are so inclined, I recommend you seek out some of your more environmentalist acquaintances, talk up the beauty and experience of intimately knowing your habitats and gaining sustenance from them, and see what happens.  You may end up with a new hunting partner, and helping to re-engage two artificially separated communities.  But if it doesn't even go that far, I doubt you'll be disappointed in the conversation and the shared feelings about those things to which we all feel connected.

Addendum:  If you are interested in hunting or fishing, but have never done so and don't know where or how to start, please shoot me an email, and I will do my darndest to find a hunter in your area who will give you more information, and may even want to meet you and help show you the ropes. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Aldo Leopold, & why I don't see a difference between my hunting and environmentalism

© 2010 Joshua Stark

This morning, I read some of Aldo Leopold's, "A Sand County Almanac" to my son (he is one month old).  If you are interested in understanding just why I cannot comprehend how hunters and fishermen don't consider themselves as brothers and sisters to environmentalists, or indeed, environmentalists, themselves, then please read the first three paragraphs of Mr. Leopold's foreword.

The spirit conveyed in this work, so beautifully put in those first paragraphs, lays bare the reasons that many of us hunt and fish. 

The only thing separating us into different communities are other politics, and that is a crying shame. 


Friday, October 8, 2010

Water Politics and Physics

© 2010 Joshua Stark.

Okay, so with little exception, the California debates for governor and senator ran their courses as expected.  And for all the listening I did, I only found one environmental reference worthy of note, but not in a good way.

I'm sure you've all heard that Meg Whitman employed a woman to work in her house for 9 years, and it turns out that the woman didn't have her papers in order to work here.  I'll brush past that, except to say, "duh!"  I think it's obvious that wealthy people hire undocumented housekeepers as a status symbol. 

But on to the environmental comment.  In the first Whitman-Brown debate, Ms. Whitman stepped into a time-honored tradition in California politics:  offering the promise of more water.

That's right, Meg Whitman promised more water.

I believe it was about two-thirds through the debate, when one of the moderators brought up the Peripheral Canal.  Ms. Whitman took it and ran with it right in the direction I knew she'd go.  She said that the Central Valley's current economic woes were due to the overzealous environmental regulations (or some such thing), and that the peripheral canal was a perfect example of a jobs-building, environmental savior.  Then, she contracted something, a condition I've heard called "diarrhea of the mouth", in which she couldn't stop herself from explaining the benefits of this grand scheme.  She worked herself up into such a state that she had to finish where she did, as horrific as I'm sure it had become in her head.  She ended by claiming that the peripheral canal would provide more water for the environment and more water for agriculture. 

I can imagine the little voice in her head, "okay, you've made a great point about jobs (although it isn't true, and the poor Central Valley will always be a feudal state), so wrap it up.  Okay, bring it in bring it home... wait, wrap it up!  Arrghh!  Stop talking!  No, don't promise them more wa... well, crap."

Ms. Whitman is surely smart enough to realize that a new river bed, no matter how it is designed, will only provide the water that runs from its sources, and cannot provide any new water.  Ms. Whitman has got to be cognizant of the fact that weather and climate determine precipitation, and that one concrete conveyance cannot do one thing to increase our rainfall and snow pack. 

It would have been one thing to say that the Central Valley needs the jobs that more water provides.  I'd have slammed it, but at least it is within the realm of physics.  But to promise a magical transformation?  Pretty bad, pretty amateurish, and perfectly, politically, Californian.