The Hypocrisy of Environmentalism: The California Tiger Salamander Versus the Spotted Owl

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Biocentrism has become the cornerstone of the environmental movement. Hence, mankind must be viewed strictly as being nothing more than a part of nature — which, in this view, means that all living things are of equal worth. In other words, a boy, is a dog, is a pig. Using such "logic," one could assert the following: a boy, is a dog, is a pig, is a spotted owl, is a California tiger salamander. It is with this statement that the misanthropic lunacy of the "green" movement is exposed. Indeed, the very actions of the environmental movement reveal a choice was made to value one set of living beings over another. For one only needs to compare the environmental movement’s tame response to the plight of the California tiger salamander (which literally lives in the heart of the green movement’s backyard) against the all-out "war" waged on behalf of the spotted owl. To compare and contrast the responses brings to light the hypocrisy of the green movement; for the biocentrists chose to value themselves over other human beings let alone the salamander. So much for this subspecies of radical egalitarianism.

Let’s be clear here, environmentalists exploit the Endangered Species Act with the objective of controlling how public and private lands are used. For example, as Collin Levey’s April 17, 2000 Wall Street Journal article conveys: "…the approach is first to look for a habitat it would like to save and then hunt up an u2018endangered’ species to justify invoking the draconian provisions of the law." In the case of the spotted owl, it was used as a Trojan horse to "protect" old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest and northern California. In the California counties of Sonoma, Santa Barbara, and San Bernardino, the California tiger salamander is being used as a Trojan horse to prevent additional lands from being cultivated into vineyards — such lands are home to forests and vernal pools.

The fight, to prevent the Pacific Northwest’s old-growth forests from being harvested, became national news in the late 1980s. The spotted owl became the surrogate and the symbol justifying any and all means necessary to protect the biocentrists’ beloved stands of Douglas fir and redwood trees. Consequently, the timber industry and its employees were subjected to violence, harassment, interference, and intimidation at the hands of greenies — including arson, vandalizing and destroying expensive logging and road building equipment, shooting logging helicopters, spiking trees, tree sitters, human chains blocking logging roads, humans chained to trees, and endless lawsuits blocking timber sales. Such tactics revealed how deeply the biocentrists hate the timber industry — which they deem as "evil."

To say the least, the legal and guerilla wars launched against the Pacific Northwest’s timber industry took a heavy toll. Not only were numerous loggers, sawyers, and other timber industry employees injured (with a few being killed), but tens of thousands were put out of jobs. What nearly became extinct was the family-owned sawmill, not the spotted owl. With the demise of scores of sawmills came economic devastation to dozens of small towns throughout the Pacific Northwest and northern California. The human toll was terrible. It is as if the greenies used neutron bombs; for the empty buildings and mills remained but the people were gone.

In October of 2004, I made a trip to California wine country. Specifically, I visited Mendocino County, Sonoma County, and the Napa Valley. Never have I had so many superb wines served by people who so love their products. The large "corporate" Napa Valley wineries (such as Sterling and Beringer) were fun to visit. I preferred, nonetheless, the small family-owned wineries as you conversed with, and were served by, the very people who made the wines. These people are passionate about their craft and it showed in the magnificent quality of the fruits of their labor. Moreover, the numerous wineries and vineyards were quite aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Every aspect of my trip was wonderful.

Two months before I visited California wine country, the California tiger salamander was listed as a "threatened species" under the Endangered Species Act (specifically on August 4, 2004). Being a native of the Pacific Northwest, I am all too familiar with how crazy the greenies can be when it comes to "protecting" the hallowed ground upon which an allegedly endangered animal treads. However, when visiting Sonoma County, I didn’t see, hear, or read about wineries being subjected to arson, vandalism, or spiking vats of wine with salt. There were no protestors. There were no human chains blocking us from driving up a private road leading to a winery’s tasting room. No greenies were chained to trees or to grape vines. No literature was being handed out imploring us to save the California tiger salamander. In fact, this creature was not ever brought up in conversation. Why was there complete silence?

Of course, the answer has everything to do with how environmental groups raise funds. First and foremost, it is important to understand that environmentalism is bigger business than greenies would like to admit. During the heady days of the efforts to save the Pacific Northwest’s old-growth forests, Alston Chase points out in his terrific book — In A Dark Wood — that by 1990 the combined budgets of the top ten American environmental groups exceeded $250 million. Additionally, Greenpeace USA’s income was $50 million and its membership ranks were swelling back then (Greenpeace is based in The Netherlands). Dr. Chase also brought to light that several top executives, of these environmental groups, were receiving salaries in the $100,000 to $200,000 range — including Jay Hair, president of the National Wildlife Federation "…who reportedly rode to work in a chauffeur-driven limousine, and received a salary exceeding $200,000." It is Jay Hair who personifies the green-limousine liberals who provide significant funding for the environmental movement.

So, it is easy to deduce why there was deafening silence on the matter of the California tiger salamander. The green-limousine liberals, who are generous contributors to green causes, are also wine lovers. Heaven forbid these oenophiles be deprived of the fabulous Sonoma County Viogniers. To advocate an all-out assault on Sonoma County wineries (or any winery for that matter) would be tantamount to attacking one of their own. After all, vineyards represent a genteel lifestyle and high society while sawmills represent (to them) Budweiser-drinking hicks who live in trailer parks. Hence biocentrists pick and choose their battles based upon personal values and tastes. What complete and utter duplicity.

Ultimately, we are dealing with nothing more than a narcissistic movement caught up in its own utopian self-interest. For greenies romanticize and daydream about a world of plenty and creature comforts while being surrounded, when convenient, by unspoiled nature — and, most certainly, by beautiful vineyards. To be sure, the environmental movement must be taken seriously as the cowardly aristocracy of this movement incites its proletarian soldiers to do its nasty, brutish, and violent bidding. Yet, intellectually, it must be viewed as nothing more than another irrational mutation of socialism populated by hypocrites.

Eric Englund [send him mail], who has an MBA from Boise State University, lives in the state of Oregon. He is the publisher of The Hyperinflation Survival Guide by Dr. Gerald Swanson. You are invited to visit his website.

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