Cavalier futurism in a fragile world
August 14 2008 | Jim's Blog,
Not because I'm relaxed. Not because I'm satisfied or pleased, but because I'm wondering how long we have as a civilization.
A few days ago, the Bush Administration indicated that it would publish a proposal eliminating independent scientific reviews and undermining species protections in favor of fast-tracking federal development projects.
Their self-labeled "narrow changes" to existing regulations are guaranteed to have far-reaching consequences.
In layman's terms, the Administration seeks to gut the Endangered Species Act.
More specifically they seek to end the inter-agency balances built into the act. It's the old "we know what's best, so we'll not only manage the act but we'll police how it's being followed."
There is a phrase for this... in Latin it's
The proverb that dates back centuries and roughly translates to "to set a wolf to guard sheep" or the more colloquial "fox guarding the henhouse."
This would be a nice proverb lesson, reminding us of an age old lesson... and yet we're talking about the very species on this earth that are on the verge of extinction. Does that send shock waves up anyone else's spine?
The Endangered Species Act (until this point) was established to require consultation between two agencies: "action agencies" and "conservation agencies." Action agencies are those that build. They build major projects like dams and highways, issue oil and gas leases or timber cutting contracts, etc. Conservation agencies protect species in peril. Conservation agencies have the primary responsibility for protecting endangered species.
You can trace this act back to Thomas Jefferson's interaction with Lewis and Clark. One could trace the essence of this act back to Noah. That is to say that for a long, long time we've known, as a human race, that we should protect endangered species. They are vital to our ecosystems. They are a link in the larger web of our existence.
If the Bush Administration's regulatory revisions are adopted, the inter-agency checks and balances are gone.
This would leave us with an agency whose primary mission is to oversee and promote federal development projects... to decide on their own whether their actions will have any adverse impact on rare species.
Age-old lessons exist for a reason. Proverbs are lessons. Do we have the hubris to think we're above these lessons?
Seek every way possible to block this effort and to make your voice heard.
This has massive and long term ramifications.