Deforestation?

In a bid to grab the spotlight for one of the causes he supports, Conservation International, Harrison Ford was recently in a 30-second spot (below) detailing how slash and burn methods in other countries still have a major negative impact on our own.

The slogan of the campaign is ‘Lost Here. Felt There.” While I could focus on how the whole thing makes Ford look pretty bony and old, or how the music is a little out of place and ridiculous, I’d rather focus on the positive: making a statement (punny or no) with your fame. It’s something I hope to be able to do myself someday.

But what are the ultimate results of this campaign?  Conservation international aims to be a force both for education, innovation, and conservation by working with local communities around the globe.  I can fully support that, and I think most of us do, particularly when that kind of innovation means income for the locals as well as conservation of species and other forest resources.   There are always questions regarding whose interests are more valued in conservation efforts – those trying to turn a profit, or those trying to preserve a local ecosystem – but from what I can tell from the general outlines on the website, Conservation International seems to be doing a reasonable job.  Personally, I still take the Ford spot as vindication for letting my own personal leg-forests grow. I’m saving the environment.

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Flooding the Grand Canyon

Here’s a nice little news tidbit that is currently escaping media hype – federal officials are flooding the canyon in hopes of reviving its dying ecosystem. What? You mean the 25 or so dams that currently control the Colorado River and provide most of the water to Las Vegas and half of California may have been not a good idea? Of course, this particular flooding is only the release of the Glen Canyon dam. The article states “The canyon’s ecosystem was permanently changed after the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam in 1963.” Um, ok. What about the Davis Dam, Parker Dam, Palo Verde Diversion Dam, or Imperial Dam? Did they not affect the canyon’s ecosystem? What about the Hoover Dam? I’m sure flooding 20% of the Canyon in the 40s didn’t have much impact.

While I do typically vote for human rights over animal rights (I.e., I’m a meatasaur and if natural resource limitations mean starving children or starving deer, I’m voting to starve the deer), I think in this instance there should be some limitations.  Do we really need to have Vegas in the middle of the desert?  Really?  Can’t we just move the whole blitz to someplace with an annual rainfall of more than 4″?  Texas, perhaps?

If there’s one thing that all the debate about global warming has taught us, it’s that we don’t know what we’re doing.  Intelligent people criticize all possible solutions, as well as the very existence of global warming.  In a scientific atmosphere where no real general trends have yet to be ‘proven’ for the globe, how do we have the pride to determine what far-reaching effects our actions might take?  How do we know that forest farming is not going to harm the plains region, or that selective logging will both prevent forest fires and preserve a forest ecosystem?  How do we know what impacts chemicals in our crops or steroids in our meat will have on our children or our children’s children?  How do we know that preservation of national parks and refuges will increase biodiversity or simply waste a valuable resource?  how do we begin to discrimiate between the wide variety of information and research that is available to us?

I continue to seek answers.

More Bad Things About Water

I just noticed in the news today (stupid blog, making me read current events) that three states – Florida, Alabama, and Georgia – are fighting over the use of a federal reservoir.  This brings up related water issues.  First, what is the demand rate really like?  Are we running out of water? We do tend to use quite a bit that we don’t need, not even considering the resources spent on water purification and waste treatment.

It reminds me of the Colorado and its dams, fueling the great southwestern desert.   I mean, who other than an American would have the great idea to build huge gambling establishments in the middle of the desert, where everything must be brought in from the outside (including water) for the benefit of the patrons.  Best of all is the Colorado River Compact, which splits up all that water and determines use allowances by state.  Of course, they set the whole thing up during flood years, so now every year surrounding states are allowed to pull out more water than is accumulated.  Way to go government, for observing that one!

I don’t like ending on a depressing not, though.  Check this out instead.  It will at least make you chuckle…