America’s liquidation sales of wildlife habitat should worry all conservationists

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This week it appears that the U.S. government has finally set the stage for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home for migratory caribou, migratory birds of many kinds, including raptors, and other priceless fauna and flora.

The national forests are subject to increasing liquidation in the guise of "forest health", putting spotted owls at risk, amongst other imperiled species.

The Intermountain West is being exploited for coalbed methane at a frantic pace, with one disturbing possibility being the further imperilment of greater sage grouse by West Nile Virus as a possible direct byproduct of the methane extraction process.

Grasslands have always been exploited and liquidated, with the well-documented vegetative transitions and alteration of fire regimes across the arid zone, putting yet more wildlife at risk.

Businessmen, who have claimed that better government would result from running government like a business, now dominate America’s government. Now, even the regulatory agencies which should be monitoring environmental impacts and curtailing excesses are dominated by businessmen, like foxes guarding hen-houses.

The businessmen guiding America’s policies these days seem to have absolutely no long-term view of the resources they seek to frantically liquidate. It is almost like a "going out of business liquidation sale" is in progress.

America’s list of endangered species and threatened species is long and would be growing if the business-dominated government would fund the process of listing. We cannot even obtain official recognition of the actual status of many imperiled species, much less protections. And recovery of these species seems to be hardly thought of, especially at any meaningful scale.

The only thing that matters seems to be economic growth, expansion of the national wealth in terms of liquidated holding. The capital nature-based wealth of the country is being sacrificed for interest as the principal is liquidated. The national lifestyle is unsustainable and the policies are non-negotiable.

If we were serious about continuing our "civilization" into the indefinite future, we would devise a simultaneous plan to recover ALL endangered species, and the national economy would be scaled back to allow for this recovery and persistence of our native bio-diversity, upon which our national economy should be based. If we insisted on a fair distribution of wealth, the people of America and the world would find that all could be provided for adequately if the previously liquidated resources were distributed more equitably.

No one can put a financial price on the existence of a species such as the spotted owl, the grizzly bear, the red-cockaded woodpecker, the tiger or the snow leopard. Species are irreplaceable, and yet we are discarding them as if their intrinsic value is of no importance.

Aldo Leopold once said that "a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, the stability, and the beauty of the biotic community. A thing is wrong when it tends otherwise."

Our American civilization, when evaluated from this ethical standard, has a lot to answer for, and we conservationists must follow Leopold’s advice and be prepared to "throw our weight around" while there is still some time left to salvage our future from the ongoing liquidation program.

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