Suppose the Bush administration didn’t follow through with its trillion-dollar tax break, but decided to spend it instead on a program to help reduce global warming, dramatically improve air quality in cities, and eliminate the need to buy foreign oil or drill Alaska. Here is one way the money could be creatively spent: Contract with all of the automobile manufacturers to develop a car that can get 100 miles per gallon or better--a design that can be mass-produced for $10,000 or less wholesale. The final designs are then rated by the experts for quality, safety, and efficiency, and public polls suggest how many of each model to make. Orders are placed for 100 million cars, at a cost of a trillion dollars--a major boost to the economy. On the grounds that they unnecessarily damage the earth and make us dependent on foreign oil, all vehicles that don’t meet the new standards are recalled. They are replaced free of charge with the new energy-efficient designs. Gasoline consumption is diminished to a fraction of what it is now. Skies are blue and pollution-related illness is dramatically reduced across the country.
As an avid hiker, cyclist, and friend of the environment, I found the March/April issue, with its tasteless screeds against President Bush, offensive. These extremist views cause some of us to have second thoughts about the environmental movement, which we would otherwise enthusiastically support.
Articles by Carl Pope (“Ways & Means”) and Bruce Hamilton (“Passages”) in the March/April issue used restraint while lamenting the anti-environmental stance of the new administration and its party members in Congress. But Bush’s postelection disavowal of early pro-environment declarations together with his flip-flop on the promise to curtail carbon dioxide emissions signals that much of his rhetoric is pure Bushwah. Defense of the environment during the Bush administration must be relentless. It won’t be successful without strong arguments for energy conservation and the development of renewable-energy technology.
Allow me to present a different perspective on mountain lion depredation (a.k.a. extermination), one which may explain why the Mountain Lion Foundation has been so “fiercely protective of its namesake.” In December 1999, the California Department of Fish and Game killed a lion in the eastern Sierra because “it was persisting in the vicinity of bighorn sheep.” In fact, the adult lion was several miles and a ridgeline away from the sheep; it was known to prey on resident deer and had no history of harassing sheep. Another, similar incident occurred in April 2000. A radio-collared lion in the eastern Sierra that had been monitored and not known to prey on sheep was killed, again because it “persisted in the vicinity” of bighorn sheep.
The reckless depredation of cougars is a problem statewide and nationwide. In April 2000, the California Department of Fish and Game killed six mountain lions in Calaveras County in one week, including a mother with two yearlings, because of their predation on a small cashmere goat operation (located, coincidentally, right in the middle of prime lion habitat).
problem the Mountain Lion Foundation is dedicated to solving. The foundation’s involvement has helped inject the evolving science of predator behavior into the recovery process to the point where depredation is now a last resort. Similarly, the foundation recently embarked on a focused campaign to reform state-agency management of this magnificent, shy, and reclusive animal.
Paul Rauber’s article left the reader with the unfortunate impression that one must somehow choose between mountain lions and bighorn sheep. That is a false dichotomy that should be rejected as quickly as the old “jobs versus the environment” argument. The article also created an impression that the Sierra Club and the Mountain Lion Foundation have differing goals regarding the protection of bighorn sheep. I serve on the Bighorn Sheep Recovery Stakeholders team along with the Sierra Club’s representative and have not found that to be the case. I have every confidence that the Sierra Club fully recognizes that prey species are just as dependent upon predators as predator species are upon prey.
Paul Rauber replies: My story did not suggest we should choose between lion and sheep: “Surely the voters didn’t intend to champion one magnificent species at the cost of wiping out another,” it concluded. Nor did it say the Sierra Club and the Foundation have differing goals. And while prey species do depend on predators to keep their numbers in check, the Sierra Nevada bighorn hover near extinction, not overpopulation.
DOWNWIND IN MISSOURI
101 SMART CITIES
BOLD BUT BOLTED
And the answers are . . .
The answers to our March/April “The Desert’s in the Details” quiz can now be revealed:
The winner, chosen in a random drawing of correct entries, will receive a rim-to-rim wilderness hiking trip for two in the Grand Canyon, or another Sierra Club outing of equal value. For the name of the winner (who has already been notified), send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Sierra.
Sierra welcomes letters from readers in response to recently published articles. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Write to us at 85 Second St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105-3441; fax (415) 977-5794; e-mail email@example.com.
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