28 Jul 2008, 10:10pm
Rural Life
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The Free Life of a Ranger

Murchie, Archie. 1991. The Free Life of a Ranger : Archie Murchie in the U.S. Forest Service, 1929-1965 with R.T. (Robert Thomas) King. Univ of Nevada Oral History Program, 324 pgs.

Review by John Thomas, Jr.

This book is an account of a person who spent considerable time and effort to get the job done, no matter the conditions. Grit. That is a word that comes to mind. Unafraid is another. Archie Murchie’s life was one that had him involved in Forest and community affairs on many fronts, and having the ability to get along with most people was his self described greatest asset.

In a different time and a different place, Archie Murchie made a conscious effort to get an education and rise above his parent’s life of hard work, injury, and poverty. He went to college for pre- forestry in North Dakota, and in 1928, to Forestry School at U. of Montana. In those days, he says, if you could pass the civil service test you went to work for the USFS, and if not, for the forest products industry.

He relates that the USFS paid a fair wage, although not as much as the forest products industry. Even so, as many did in his lifetime, he chose to work for the USFS. As a civil servant you had a year round job, job security if you worked smart, hard, and had a modicum of people skills. In a difficult era for the United States economy, he most likely made the right choice for himself. In later years, he talks about people jealous of the money USFS Rangers made before WWII.

Archie tells a tale of hard work, trying conditions, long hours, even longer days, and weeks without end. A Ranger’s life was one of being the caretaker for vast areas of public land, at times by yourself. You had seasonal help, mostly to fight fire, but when fires were not burning you used those people to make and clear trails, build bridges and cabins, repair or construct lookout stations, and be a presence on the Forest.

It was a life of toil, much of which was spent as a solitary quest. Archie talks about family and moving his family to town so his kids could attend school. I don’t know if many modern women would accept a husband’s lot that kept him from home for much of the year.

Archie Murchie was more of a range manager than a forest manager. In either case, Rangers come and go, but the grazing permit stays with the ranch in most cases. A great deal of the book is devoted to an assessment of permittees, grazier tricks and strategies, and how to foil a permittee who was still steeped in the culture of the free range, of the times before the Taylor Grazing Act and other public land regulations were enacted to control transient herders. There was a time when bands of sheep were grazed from lambing grounds to spring graze, to shearing graze, to summer graze, to weaning graze and on to winter graze. One big circle of movement of bands of sheep, and all on public lands with out any responsibility to the land or private property.
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Animals whose behavior changes near their life’s end

by Julie Kay Smithson

Dear friend,

I don’t know the answer to your question, but I wanted to share something with you that happened to me more than eighteen years ago.

My dear old gray Arabian gelding, Smoke, that had blessed me with his company for eleven years, was in his thirties. For the last three months of his life, although he appeared as healthy as ever, things changed in the way he related to me. Always a camera hog, he no longer wanted his picture taken. Instead of coming up to me and hanging around (I had several other horses and he was always the most cozy), he’d greet me and then wander away.

No, it wasn’t anything like dementia. I think he was trying to prepare me for the separation by distancing himself a bit “before the fact.”

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20 May 2008, 5:19pm
Local History Resident Stewardship
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The People Who Lived Among the Clouds

Originally posted at SOS Forests (the old version) May 26th, 2006

On August 12, 1805, Meriwether Lewis and an advance party of the Corps of Discovery crossed the Continental Divide at Lemhi Pass. They were following an Indian road that led them down the west slope of the Rockies into the Lemhi River Valley. Lewis wrote:

… the road was dusty and appeared to have been much traveled lately both by men and horses. … we had marched about 2 miles when we met a party of about 60 warriors mounted on excellent horses who came in at nearly full speed, when they arrived I advanced towards them with the flag leaving my gun with the party about 50 paces behid me.

The mounted warriors did not slaughter Lewis and his small party, nor steal their trinkets. Instead:

… these men then advanced and embraced me very affectionately in their way which is by putting their left arm over you wright sholder clasping your back, while they apply their left cheek to yours and frequently vociforate the word ah-hi’-e, ah-hi’-e that is, I am much pleased, I am much rejoiced. bothe parties now advanced and we wer all carresed and besmeared with their grease and paint till I was heartily tired of the national hug.

Lewis convinced the chief, Cameahweit, to accompany him back over Lemhi Pass to Shoshone Cove. Five days later Clark and the main Corps of Discovery reached Lewis, and Sacajawea turned out to be Cameahweit’s long lost sister! From “Sacajawea’s People: Who Are The Lemhi And Where Is Their Home?” by Professor Orlan J. Svingen History Department, Washington State University [here]:

At Fort Mandan in October of 1804, they [Lewis and Clark] had acquired the services of Toussaint Charbonneau and one of his wives, Sacajawea, a fifteen year old “Shoshone” woman who was six months pregnant. The expedition valued Charbonneau and Sacajawea for their skills as interpreters–he for his French and she for her Hidatsa and Shoshone. Sacajawea, along with several other Shoshone girls, had been captured by a Hidatsa raiding party near the Three Forks four years earlier. Living at Fort Mandan, Charbonneau won Sacajawea in a wager with Hidatsa warriors. Lewis and Clark recognized the importance of being accompanied by someone who spoke the language of one of the tribes living in the Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of the Three Forks.

By the time Lewis and Clark reached the Three Forks of the Missouri River, they understood the critical need for obtaining horses from the Shoshones living just to the west, and they recognized as well the need to obtain geographical information necessary for crossing into the Columbia River drainage. The role of Sacajawea loomed large indeed. First Lewis and then Clark together with Sacajawea, the expedition met and established friendly relations with the Shoshones. They shared food and presents, and they smoked a pipe with the people under the leadership of Cameahweit, later revealed to be Sacajawea’s brother. Shortly thereafter, Lewis and Clark assessed the Salmon River as too wild to carry them to the Columbia so they discussed with Cameahweit how best to cross the mountains to the land of the Nez Perce. Cameahweit provided them with a guide, Old Toby, and the expedition bartered for about thirty horses to convey their goods across the mountains. With Old Toby’s assistance, the Corps of Discovery finally reached the Nez Perce villages in late September of 1805.

Historian Stephen Ambrose [Undaunted Courage] placed a high value on the role Sacajawea’s people played. “Without Shoshone horses, without Shoshone information,” he explained, “the expedition might as well turn around and go home.”

The heroine of this tale had been captured and enslaved at age 11 by the Mandan Hidatsa. Later Charbonneau won Sacajawea in an Indian gambling game. When Lewis and Clark recruited them she was 15 years old and 6 months pregnant. Sacajawea walked from North Dakota to the Pacific Ocean, and back, carrying her newborn son, Jean Baptiste C. When the Corps returned from the Pacific, Sacajawea was deposited back in the Mandan Hidatsa village with Charbonneau and his other wives/slaves. Her reunion with her brother and people in August, 1805, was the last time she ever saw them.

Although treaties were signed with the Lemhi Shoshone, none were honored. The Lemhi Shoshone were evicted from the Lemhi Valley in 1907. Today they are still trying to recover a tiny piece of their ancestral homeland (see here). The Lemhi Shoshone aided Lewis and Clark, and in fact saved the expedition. They have never been repaid. Sacajawea is on a coin; her people have been robbed. There is an unpleasant irony in that.

The Lemhi Shoshone were not Hollywood archetypal, fierce buffalo warriors of the Plains. They were mountain (or Plateau) people, with advanced cropping systems for camas, berries, and other native foods. They constructed complex weirs for catching salmon. They ate more deer and mountain sheep than buffalo. From “The Lemhi People and Their Struggle to Retain a Homeland” by Shirley Stephens [here]:

Sharing a home territory, the Lemhi Valley Shoshonis called themselves salmon eaters, while the mountain bands identified themselves as sheepeaters. By 1850, a majority of the surrounding Shoshone mountain dwellers (sheepeaters) consolidated with the salmon eaters. The combined bands comprised two hundred families with a population of twelve-hundred “in a subsistence area of 27,000 square miles.” Taking advantage of the widely scattered subsistence foods while ensuring their survival, the Lemhi traditionally formed hunting and gathering groups. The mountains yielded seeds, roots, mountain sheep, deer, and salmon. From early spring until September, the Lemhi caught salmon from the Salmon, Lemhi, and Pahsimeroi rivers. In the summer, certain Lemhi groups traveled east to hunt buffalo. Hunting families traveled to the “upper waters of the Missouri and eastward beyond Bozeman and utilized areas immediately east of the Divide” and to the Yellowstone area. Returning in the fall, Lemhi families camped in the Lemhi valley during the winter months.

From Dr. Svingen again:

The tribal people living in the Lemhi and Pahsimeroi valleys and along the Salmon River in 1805 were comprised initially of two groups. They included the Agaidika, or Salmoneaters, the Tukukika, or the Sheepeaters who lived in the surrounding mountains. These people subsisted by digging camas, fishing for salmon, and hunting mountain sheep, deer, antelope, and buffalo. As such, they exhibited the classic characteristic of Plateau Indian culture. The two groups subsisting in the Salmon River Country were an organized tribe that crossed the Bitterroots to hunt buffalo north and west of Yellowstone, traveled to the Camas Prairie near Nez Perce country, and traveled north to trade with their allies, the Flatheads. Sometime after 1805, perhaps in the 1850s, the Salmoneaters and Sheepeaters were joined by a number of Bannock Indians who came north from Fort Hall where the main Bannock tribe resided. These Bannock people, numbering about one hundred, became absorbed into the Lemhi tribe living in the Salmon River country.

From “The Agaidikas (Salmon Eater Shoshone)” by Kel Ariwite [here]:

The Agaidikas and Tukudikas are considered the first residents of the upper Lemhi Valley, dating back 10,000 years or more. Archaeological research indicates that buffalo, when present, were hunted throughout the 10,000 years of Indian occupancy of the Lemhi Valley.

The Agaidika and Tukudikas (Lemhi - Shoshone) were also great fishermen. It was their practice to build weirs and dams to catch the salmon. They shared their Salmon River fishing grounds with their neighbors, the Nez Perce from the north and the west, and the Flathead Indians from the Bitterroot Valley to the north. The Nez Perce and the Flathead Indians often came to the valley to fish and trade with the Lemhi-Shoshone. It is also believed that the Shoshone, Flathead and Nez Perce may have united, from time to time, to strengthen their hunting endeavors and to give themselves more protection against the Blood (Blackfeet) and other Plains tribes who considered their territory invaded by the Shoshone, Nez Perce and Flathead from the west.

The Tukudikas lived higher up, in the jaggedy country, among the clouds. From Kel Ariwite again:

In W. A. Allen’s The Sheep Eaters (published in 1913), Allen relates this story told him by a 115 year old Sheep Eater named “The Woman Under the Ground.” According to Allen, she spoke in sign language:

My people lived among the clouds.
We were the Sheep Eaters who have passed away,
But on those walls are the paint rocks,
Where our traditions are written on their face,
Chiseled with obsidian arrow heads.

Our people were not warriors.
We worshipped the sun,
And the sun is bright
And so were our people.
Our men were good
And our women were like the sun.

The Great Spirit has stamped our impressions
On the rocks by His lightnings;
There are many of our people who were outlined
On those smooth walls years ago;
Then our people painted their figures,
Or traded them with beautiful colored stones,
And the paleface calls them “painted rocks”.

Our people never came down into the valleys,
But always lived among the clouds,
Eating the mountain sheep and the goats,
And sometimes the elk
When they came high on the mountains.

Our tepees were made of the cedar,
Thatched with grey moss
And cemented with the gum from the pines,
Carpeted with the mountain sheep-skins,
Soft as down.

Our garments were made from the skins of the gazelle,
And ornamented with eagle feathers
And ermine and otter skins.

We chanted our songs to the sun,
And the Great Spirit was pleased.
He gave us much sheep and meat
And berries and pure water,
And snow to keep the flies away.
The water was never muddy.
We had no dogs nor horses.
We did not go far from our homes,
But were happy in our mountain abode.

The homeland of the people who lived among the clouds should be restored to them, for the benefit of all humanity.

30 Apr 2008, 4:24pm
Agriculture Rural Economics
by admin
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The Food Crisis

Dunn, J.R. 2008. The Food Crisis. The American Thinker, April 2008.

J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker

Full text [here] and below:

As everyone knows by this point, we are in the midst of a food crisis. Domestic prices of basic foods have risen by 46% over the past year, putting even more pressure on already stressed consumers. Overseas, food riots have occurred in Haiti, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Indonesia, Yemen, and as close to our borders as Mexico. These riots were severe enough to bring down the Haitian government of Jacques Edouard Alexis. Others may follow.

Any number of explanations have been offered. Global warming has taken its accustomed bow, only to be immediately pushed to one side by other candidates including market pressure created by higher living standards in India and China and increased fuel and fertilizer costs thanks to OPEC’s price-raising spree. Overpopulation has been dragged from the closet and dusted off one more time. The dour ghost of economist Thomas Malthus, with his lethal equation that food supply increases arithmetically while population increases geometrically, has made yet another appearance.

How will we feed the world, the cry arises. The feast is over; the era of cheap food has come to an end. The West (as ever), must mend its ways, give up its McDonald’s and KFC for the common good, learn to content itself with a bowl of cabbage soup and a handful of bamboo shoots a day. Soylent Green is just around the corner.

Within a year, the prophet of the 1200-calorie international diet will begin his campaign, in much the same way as Al Gore (perhaps it will even be Al Gore, if global warming goes south quickly enough), pursuing that Nobel aglow just over the horizon. Ecoterrorists will develop new targets to add to loggers and fur-wearers. (Has anybody ever noticed that PETA and Earth First! tend to keep their distance from leather fanciers, like those who so frightened Code Pink in Berkeley last week?) Fast-food restaurants will burst into flame in the dead of night. Famous chefs will require bodyguards. Ranchers will walk in fear of ambush, their herds poisoned or scattered.

All of which completely misses the point. Because there is one reason above all for the current crunch in basic foodstuffs, and that is: politics.
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23 Apr 2008, 10:40pm
Agriculture Rural Economics
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Food For Thought

by Alvaro Vargas Llosa, from The New Republic [here]

Our only hope for solving the looming food crisis is to end protectionist trade policies.

WASHINGTON-In the 1830s, Richard Cobden and John Bright started a campaign against the protectionist laws that were keeping food prices high in Britain. After sustaining abuse for many years, they persuaded the government in 1846 to repeal the infamous Corn Laws, a move that helped usher in a long period of prosperity. I have been thinking intensely about these 19th-century heroes lately. The world needs a new Anti-Corn Law League, the movement they founded, if it wants to put a stop to the madness of escalating food prices and save millions of people, from Haiti to Bangladesh and from Cameroon to the Philippines, from starvation.

Prices have increased steadily in the last three years, but matters really came to a crunch this year. Since January, the price of rice has gone up by 141 percent, while the price of wheat has almost doubled in one year. In a world in which the poor spend three-quarters of their budget on food, that means potentially a life-or-death situation for the 1 billion human beings who live on the equivalent of $1 dollar a day.

When the price of something shoots up, one can infer that the supply is not keeping up with the demand. In the wake of today’s food shock, many people have focused on the causes of the rise in the demand for food. All of them-from the growing wealth of China and India to the explosion of grain-derived biofuels in rich nations-sound very plausible. Less attention has been paid to why, in the era of globalization, in which products can move quickly from manufacture to market, and with the advances in biotechnology, the supply of food is not meeting the demand.

Many governments, multilateral bodies, nongovernmental organizations and pundits are failing to answer that basic question. Instead, they postulate solutions that would either compound the problem or constitute at best a short-term palliative. The real solution will be the removal of the causes of the shortfall. Those causes have little to do with economics or demographics, and everything to do with the politics of governments and those who use governments to serve their interests-to the detriment of the general public.

Few areas of the economy are more strewn with protectionist laws than agriculture-in rich and poor countries alike. A panoply of quotas, subsidies, tariffs and prohibitions designed to win votes and, essentially, bribes has discouraged the much-needed increase in food production. In normal free-market circumstances, the slightest signal that prices were going up would have been enough to ensure that masses of capital were invested in farming for food. In the current mess, it is not surprising that investors are not pouring money into food production: Farmers in Europe are paid to keep their land fallow because of a scheme called the Common Agricultural Policy; farmers in Argentina are being asked to give up 75 percent of their earnings through various taxes; farmers in the United States are more interested in feeding SUVs than in feeding people because the U.S. Congress has mandated a fivefold increase in the use of biofuels; and farmers in Africa are not experimenting with genetically modified crops because they are banned in many of the countries to which they might be able to export them.

British economist and African expert Paul Collier wrote recently that “the most realistic way is to replicate the Brazilian model of large, technologically sophisticated agrocompanies that supply the world market. … To contain the rise in food prices we need more globalization, not less.”

I would add that small farmers in developing countries would also team up and create economies of scale if they were not hampered by domestic laws designed to protect consumers and by international commercial laws designed to protect producers-or if peasants in, say, China were allowed to fully own their land.

According to The Economist magazine, of the 58 countries whose reaction to the crisis has been researched by the World Bank, 48 have imposed price controls, consumer subsidies and export restrictions. A problem that was originated by protectionism has elicited a protectionist response from most countries. A century and a half after Cobden and Bright defeated protectionism in Britain, their ideas are more powerfully relevant than ever.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa, author of Liberty for Latin America, is the director of the Center on Global Prosperity at the Independent Institute.

8 Apr 2008, 11:19pm
Agriculture Rural Economics
by admin
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Still Feeding the World

Driessen, Paul. 2008. Still Feeding the World: a Tribute to Norman Borlaug.

Full text [here]

Selected Excerpts:

Norman Borlaug just turned 94 - and is still going strong. He’s the father of the Green Revolution. Penn and Teller call him the greatest person in history. When the Nobel committee awarded him the 1970 Peace Prize, it said his work had saved a billion lives. Norman Borlaug turned 94 on March 25 and, despite cancer that had him sick and hospitalized a couple months ago, just attended a conference in Mexico on new rust-resistant wheat varieties and modern agricultural methods. …

He is still “an Energizer Bunny,” his daughter Jeanie says. Decades ago, while neo-Malthusians were predicting mass famine, Borlaug used Rockefeller Foundation grants to unlock hidden (recessive) genes and crossbreed different wheat strains, to create new “dwarf” varieties that were resistant to destructive “rust” fungi. The shorter plants were also sturdier, put less energy into growing leaves and stalks, and thus had higher yields. …

In 1985, he began working with former President Jimmy Carter to bring a Green Revolution to Sub-Saharan Africa, emphasizing intensive modern farming methods with new hybrid and biotech seeds on existing fields, to reduce the need to slash and burn wildlife habitat, as soil nutrients are exhausted. Unfortunately, their progress may be undermined by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his misleadingly named Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Annan says biotech crops are unsafe, untested, and likely to enslave poor farmers to mega-corporations and expensive seeds. He wants to battle Africa’s chronic poverty and malnutrition with “traditional seeds” and methods. …

Dr. Borlaug fears that would be a devastating failure. As he said during a 2005 biotechnology conference, sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality at the United Nations, he sees no way the world can feed its hungry population without genetically engineered (GE) crops, especially if it relies more on biofuels. He has little patience for “well-fed utopians who live on Cloud Nine but come into the Third World to cause all kinds of negative impacts,” by scaring people and blocking the use of biotechnology. These callous activists even persuaded Zambia to let people starve, rather than let them eat biotech corn donated by the USA. They also oppose insecticides to combat malaria - and fossil fuels, hydroelectric dams and nuclear power to generate abundant, reliable, affordable electricity for poor nations. …

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality and Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power. Black death.

Cut, Burn and Kill

Bell, Roni. 1998. Cut, Burn and Kill. Range Magazine, Spring 1999.

Full text follows:

In the new wild West, it’s cowboys vs. radical environmentalists

June 14th dawned a tender blue. Chuck Sylvester and I, the last of the branding help to leave the Circle Bar Ranch, closed up the century-old sod and log home. We carefully checked the lights, water heater, doors, windows and furnace to ensure the old girl’s well-being.

Chuck drove slowly past the corrals, irrigation ditches, gates, fences and meadows to make sure the cows were where they were supposed to be, the horses could get water and shade, and the ranch could hum along plenty fine until our return. It was 11 a.m. when we finally trucked over the Rough Hills road to meet with Chuck’s foreman Cal Hancock at the N.T. Bar, part of the Circle Bar Ranch.

The graceful stillness of that Sunday was aborted at 1 p.m. by a phone call. Cathy Meyer, wife of Chuck’s foreman on the 7D, also part of the Circle Bar, told us: “I was putting mineral out, and when I was coming back from the Circle Bar I noticed the fences were down. At first I thought the yearlings did it. Then I saw there was more damage than yearlings could have done. I found a note, and I saw the cuts.”

Jarring our belly buttons into our toes, we raced back over rough roads to the Circle Bar. While Chuck gathered fence fixing stuff, I read the note: “THIS RANGE IMPROVEMENT PROJECT BROUGHT TO YOU BY EXTENDED PALM PROJECTS A DIVISION OF ISLAMIC JIHAD ECOTERRORISTS INC, pc NO ADDRESS-WE’RE EVERYWHERE NO PHONE-WE’LL BE IN TOUCH”

In one hour, they made 50 cuts at the Circle Bar Ranch. That day, eight ranches, zagging from about Waltman down to Muddy Gap, were hit with over 300 cuts. None of us saw any sign of the leaf-sucking-poppy-cocks as they sleazed down the remote Wyoming roads, only to flop out at a fence closest to their air-conditioned wheels and leave their snippy greetings. The budget for this little outing-the payroll, maps, communication equipment, reliable vehicles, gas, bolt cutters, motel rooms, recruiters, training, printing and food-proves that the conflict industry is big business.
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14 Mar 2008, 8:47pm
Rural Economics Rural Life
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From Climate Alarmism to Climate Realism

By Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic. Remarks delivered at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, New York, March 4, 2008 [here].

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like first of all to thank the organizers of this important conference for making it possible and also for inviting one politically incorrect politician from Central Europe to come and speak here. This meeting will undoubtedly make a significant contribution to the moving away from the irrational climate alarmism to the much needed climate realism.

I know it is difficult to say anything interesting after two days of speeches and discussions here. If I am not wrong, I am the only speaker from a former communist country and I have to use this as a comparative — paradoxically — advantage. Each one of us has his or her experiences, prejudices and preferences. The ones that I have are — quite inevitably — connected with the fact that I have spent most of my life under the communist regime. A week ago, I gave a speech at an official gathering at the Prague Castle commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1948 communist putsch in the former Czechoslovakia. One of the arguments of my speech there, quoted in all the leading newspapers in the country the next morning, went as follows: “Future dangers will not come from the same source. The ideology will be different. Its essence will, nevertheless, be identical — the attractive, pathetic, at first sight noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of the common good, and the enormous self-confidence on the side of its proponents about their right to sacrifice the man and his freedom in order to make this idea reality.” What I had in mind was, of course, environmentalism and its currently strongest version, climate alarmism.

This fear of mine is the driving force behind my active involvement in the Climate Change Debate and behind my being the only head of state who in September 2007 at the UN Climate Change Conference, only a few blocks away from here, openly and explicitly challenged the current global warming hysteria. My central argument was — in a condensed form — formulated in the subtitle of my recently published book devoted to this topic which asks: “What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?” My answer is clear and resolute: “it is our freedom.” I may also add “and our prosperity.”

What frustrates me is the feeling that everything has already been said and published, that all rational arguments have been used, yet it still does not help. Global warming alarmism is marching on. We have to therefore concentrate (here and elsewhere) not only on adding new arguments to the already existing ones, but also on the winning of additional supporters of our views. The insurmountable problem as I see it lies in the political populism of its exponents and in their unwillingness to listen to arguments. They — in spite of their public roles — maximize their own private utility function where utility is not any public good but their own private good — power, prestige, carrier, income, etc. It is difficult to motivate them differently. The only way out is to make the domain of their power over our lives much more limited. But this will be a different discussion.

We have to repeatedly deal with the simple questions that have been many times discussed here and elsewhere:

1) Is there a statistically significant global warming?

2) If so, is it man-made?

3) If we decide to stop it, is there anything a man can do about it?

4) Should an eventual moderate temperature increase bother us?

We have our answers to these questions and are fortunate to have many well-known and respected experts here who have made important contributions in answering them. Yet, I am not sure this is enough. People tend to blindly believe in the IPCC’s conclusions (especially in the easier to understand formulations presented in the “Summaries for Policymakers”) despite the fact that from the very beginning, the IPCC has been a political rather than a scientific undertaking.

Many politicians, media commentators, public intellectuals, bureaucrats in more and more influential international organizations not only accept them but use them without qualifications which exist even in the IPCC documents. There are sometimes unexpected and for me unexplainable believers in these views. Few days ago, I have come across a lecture given by a very respected German economist (H. W. Sinn, “Global Warming: The Neglected Supply Side, in: The EEAG Report, CESifo, Munich, 2008) who is in his other writings very critical of the German interventionist economic policies and statist institutions. His acceptance of the “conventional IPCC wisdom” (perhaps unwisdom) is striking. His words:

“the scientific evidence is overwhelming”;

“the facts are undeniable”;

“the temperature is extremely sensitive to even small variations in greenhouse gas concentration”;

“if greenhouse gases were absent from the atmosphere, average temperature of the Earth’s surface would be -6°C. With the greenhouse gases, the present average temperature is +15°C. Therefore, the impact of CO2 is enormous”;

he was even surprised that “in spite of all the measures taken, emissions have accelerated in recent years. This poses a puzzle for economic theory!” he said.

To make it less of a puzzle, let me make two brief comments.

As an economist, I have to start by stressing the obvious. Carbon dioxide emissions do not fall from heaven. Their volume (ECO2) is a function of GDP per capita (which means of the size of economic activity, SEA), of the number of people (POP) and of the emissions intensity (EI), which is the amount of CO2 emissions per dollar of GDP. This is usually expressed in a simple relationship which is, of course, a tautological identity:


but with some assumption about causality it can be turned into a structural equation. What this relationship tells is simple: If we really want to decrease ECO2 (which most of us assembled here today probably do not consider necessary), we have to either stop the economic growth and thus block further rise in the standard of living, or stop the population growth, or make miracles with the emissions intensity.

I am afraid there are people who want to stop the economic growth, the rise in the standard of living (though not their own) and the ability of man to use the expanding wealth, science and technology for solving the actual pressing problems of mankind, especially of the developing countries. This ambition goes very much against the past human experience which has always been connected with a strong motivation to go ahead and to better human conditions. There is no reason to make the, from above orchestrated, change just now — especially with arguments based on such an incomplete and faulty science as is demonstrated by the IPCC. Human wants are unlimited and should stay so. Asceticism is a respectable individual attitude but should not be forcefully imposed upon the rest of us.

I am also afraid that the same people, imprisoned in the Malthusian tenets and in their own megalomaniac ambitions, want to regulate and constrain the demographic development, which is something only the totalitarian regimes have until now dared to think about or experiment with. Without resisting it we would find ourselves on the slippery “road to serfdom.” The freedom to have children without regulation and control is one of the undisputable human rights and we have to say very loudly that we do respect it and will do so in the future as well.

There are people among the global warming alarmists who would protest against being included in any of these categories, but who do call for a radical decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. It can be achieved only by means of a radical decline in the emissions intensity. This is surprising because we probably believe in technical progress more than our opponents. We know, however, that such revolutions in economic efficiency (and emissions intensity is part of it) have never been realized in the past and will not happen in the future either. To expect anything like that is a non-serious speculation.

I recently looked at the European CO2 emissions data covering the period 1990-2005, which means the Kyoto Protocol era. My conclusion is that in spite of many opposite statements the very robust relationship between CO2 emissions and the rate of economic growth can’t be disputed, at least in a relevant and meaningful time horizon. You don’t need huge computer models to very easily distinguish three different types of countries in Europe:

the EU less developed countries — Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain — which during this very period tried to catch up with the economic performance of the more developed EU countries. Their rapid economic growth led to the increase of their CO2 emissions in 15 years (in which they signed Kyoto) by 53 percent;

the European post-communist countries which after the fall of communism went through a fundamental, voluntarily unorganizable transformation shake-out and an inevitable radical economic restructuring with the heavy industry disappearing (not stagnating or retreating) practically over night. Their GDP drastically declined. These countries decreased their CO2 emissions in the same period by 32 percent;

the “normal” EU, slow-growing if not stagnating countries (excluding Germany where it’s difficult to eliminate the impact of the fact that the East German economy almost ceased to exist in that period) increased their CO2 emissions by 4 percent.

The huge differences in these three figures — +53 percent, -32 percent and +4 percent — are almost fascinating. And yet, there is a dream among European politicians to reduce CO2 emissions for the entire EU by 30 per cent in the next 13 years (compared to the 1990 level). What does it mean? Do they assume that all countries would undergo a similar economic shock as was experienced by the Central and Eastern European countries after the fall of communism? Now in the whole of Europe? Do they assume that European economically weaker countries would stop their catching-up process? Or do they intend to organize a decrease in the number of people living in Europe? Or do they expect a miracle in the development of the emissions/GDP ratio, which would require a technological revolution of unheard-of proportions? With the help of a — from Brussels organized — scientific and technological revolution?

What I see in Europe (and in the U.S. and other countries as well) is a powerful combination of irresponsibility, of wishful thinking, of implicit believing in some form of Malthusianism, of cynical approach of those who themselves are sufficiently well-off, together with the strong belief in the possibility of changing the economic nature of things through a radical political project.

This brings me to politics. As a politician who personally experienced communist central planning of all kinds of human activities, I feel obliged to bring back the already almost forgotten arguments used in the famous plan-versus-market debate in the 1930s in economic theory (between Mises and Hayek on the one side and Lange and Lerner on the other), the arguments we had been using for decades — till the moment of the fall of communism. Then they were quickly forgotten. The innocence with which climate alarmists and their fellow-travelers in politics and media now present and justify their ambitions to mastermind human society belongs to the same “fatal conceit.” To my great despair, this is not sufficiently challenged neither in the field of social sciences, nor in the field of climatology. Especially the social sciences are suspiciously silent.

The climate alarmists believe in their own omnipotency, in knowing better than millions of rationally behaving men and women what is right or wrong, in their own ability to assembly all relevant data into their Central Climate Change Regulatory Office (CCCRO) equipped with huge supercomputers, in the possibility to give adequate instructions to hundreds of millions of individuals and institutions and in the non-existence of an incentive problem (and the resulting compliance or non-compliance of those who are supposed to follow these instructions).

We have to restart the discussion about the very nature of government and about the relationship between the individual and society. Now it concerns the whole mankind, not just the citizens of one particular country. To discuss this means to look at the canonically structured theoretical discussion about socialism (or communism) and to learn the uncompromising lesson from the inevitable collapse of communism 18 years ago. It is not about climatology. It is about freedom. This should be the main message of our conference.

29 Feb 2008, 9:01pm
Rural Life
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Movie: The Trip to Bountiful

(Note: While talking with a friend this afternoon, she mentioned an older movie, “Back to Bountiful,” and told me a bit about it. My excitement grew as I realized that this movie is the one I’d been searching for ever since seeing it on television in the late 1980s. A search at Google proved its name to be “The Trip to Bountiful.” For those who enjoy a decent movie, this one has a five-star rating at Amazon.com [here] out of 42 reviews! Truly a family movie with much to offer each viewer. — Julie Kay Smithson)

Movie Review, NYT, December 20, 1985 [here]

The Trip to Bountiful (1985)

NYT Critics’ Pick (This movie has been designated a Critic’s Pick by the film reviewers of The Times).

By Vincent Canby

It’s 1947. Carrie Watts is a well-meaning, loving old woman but, as her son, Ludie, and daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae, know from years of experience, living with Carrie in a tiny Houston apartment is no picnic. It’s more like a Balkan truce.

When Carrie isn’t butting into Ludie and Jessie Mae’s business, she’s singing hymns that, according to her daughter-in-law, “are going out of style.” Even more irritating to Jessie Mae are the days when Carrie just stares out the window, “pouting.” She also has “spells” - her heart is unreliable, though the doctor has assured her that it will last as long as she needs it.

Carrie is no more fond of the arrangement than Ludie and Jessie Mae are. She longs to go back to Bountiful, the small Texas town near the Gulf of Mexico where she was born, married and raised her children, of whom only Ludie survives.

A return to Bountiful, however, is impossible. Nobody is certain that it even exists anymore, and there’s the persistent problem of money. Times aren’t great for Ludie and Jessie Mae, who are childless and approaching middle age with not much to show for it but each other.

On any average day, Jessie Mae will accuse Carrie of going through her dresser drawers, which is the one thing the refined Jessie Mae cannot stand. Carrie will respond by being rather imperially baffled by a woman who desires only to have her hair done or to go to the drug store to drink a Coke. Ludie, loving both women, satisfies neither.

One afternoon, while Ludie is at work and Jessie Mae is out sipping Coke, Carrie Watts makes a clean getaway. Wearing a hat that looks as if she always sat on it at the breakfast table, and her best dress, which sags in the wrong places, she takes off by bus for Bountiful. She travels light, carrying only an overnight bag, her pension check and some small change.

This is more or less the beginning of “The Trip to Bountiful,” Horton Foote’s funny, exquisitely performed film adaptation of his own play, directed for the screen by Peter Masterson. “The Trip to Bountiful,” which opens today at Cinema 2, is almost as unstoppable as Carrie Watts.

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15 Feb 2008, 2:22am
Resident Stewardship
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Letter to Steven

Hey Steven,

Tonight I accidentally watched the 11 o’clock news. I hate TV, and especially TV news, but the tube was on and something caught my attention.

It was Robt. Liberty. I have known him for years as head of 1,000 Friends of Oregon. You know, the pro-land use planning organization, proponents of Oregon’s “vaunted” statewide land use laws. But he was billed as a Metro Councilor, whatever that is. He was interviewed for a story about East Multnomah County. It seems that the Metro policy has been to jam high density, low-income housing into East County.

Now the crime rate there is skyrocketing. Drugs, robberies, assaults, etc. Highest crime rate in the state. The older residents who still own single-family homes are scared to walk their dogs anymore, to walk anywhere on the now Mean Streets of East County.

Robt. Liberty said, “It’s not the density, it’s the poverty.”

He is dead wrong. It’s the density.

People need space, or as I like to say, personal territory. When human beings are jammed together they react in pathological, anti-social ways. It’s not a moral or ethical problem. It’s a psychological one. High density affects people in a visceral way, just like rats crowded into a cage. Normally kind and compassionate people lose their bearings when their personal space is compressed.

Poverty is a condition related to high density. Land is wealth, real wealth (real estate). To be landless is to be poor, even if your income is high. To have land is to be wealthy, even if your income is low.

For over 30 years I have been fighting to help my clients get permits to build homes on their rural properties. I have butted heads with the land use planning crowd who wish to dehumanize the landscape and compress humanity into tight spaces.

I have been a “back to the land” guy since college. I believe in “resident stewardship” of the planet. I oppose wilderness, wildlands, open space, vast tracts of government land, roadlessness, and all the other land uses that prevent people from living on the land.

I am not a contrarian or a rebel. I support good government. But I don’t support confining human beings to high density living. That has placed me in the politically incorrect camp, but not because I seek conflict. On the contrary, I seek peace and harmony.

All the struggles I have been involved with, like our land use laws, federal megafires, small woodland stewardship, family farming, heritage cultural landscapes, tending our forests, etc., all come from the same place: giving people enough personal space (territory) to be sane, caring, and compassionate to the land and each other. I like what Steve Pyne said: “It’s about making this a habitable place.” That’s a deep concept.

And that’s what it is all about for me. It is all related to personal territory. Stewardship of the land means human presence, human connection, human personal space, human personal responsibility, and a decent society and landscape in which to live, for me, my children, and my neighbors.

The TV news was shocking tonight. I recoiled in horror once again at the violence and tragedy that has been wrought by the likes of Robt. Liberty. He seemed confused. He probably is not a bad person, depending on how you define that, but he has perpetrated a lot of suffering.

Just wanted to get that off my chest. Keep up the good work. You may not fully understand how good the work is that you do. It’s not about fighting the good fight; it’s about saving your fellow humans from undue suffering. It’s about making this planet a habitable place.

Your friend Mike


Petersen, James D. Imagine. Speech to the 65th Annual TLA Convention, Vancouver B.C. Wednesday, January 16, 2008

James D. Petersen is Executive Director, The Evergreen Foundation [here] and 2007 President, Pacific Logging Congress

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

I have been asked to compare the timber industry/government relationship in the United States with the timber industry/government relationship in Canada, with the caveat that I can make this call as I see it, which very likely will not be how you see it.

But as they say, anyone who has traveled more than 50 miles from home is considered an expert, to be accorded all the rights, privileges and courtesies of such experts.

So imagine with me while I walk you through a comparison of the government and industry relationships in our two countries.

Imagine that you no longer have a voice in provincial forestry decision-making, none. Say what you will, but it carries no weight.

Imagine that any citizen living in British Columbia can oppose your harvest plan – and that person’s voice suddenly has more power than all of provincial voices that might be raised in support of your harvest plan.

Imagine living in a country with a “Sue the bastards” mentality. That’s the United States today. Any malcontent, any social misfit, any anarchist can go to court and stop a harvest plan in its tracks. There are environmental litigators standing on every street corner in the land who will gladly take the case for nothing. Why would a lawyer take a case for no money: because under our federal Equal Access to Justice Act, our taxpayers are forced to reimburse the lawyers for their court costs. This is how several of our most radical environmental groups fund their work. Creating and exploiting conflict has become a billion dollar industry in our country.

Imagine that your provincial government has surrendered your citizen voice to the most radical environmentalists living among you – and now says openly that those radical voices have constitutionally guaranteed rights that you don’t hold.
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29 Jan 2008, 11:29pm
People and Fire
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Angora: South Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Daily Tribune Staff, Jonah M. Kessel visual director, Jeff Munson editor, Gail Powell-Acosta publisher. Angora: South Lake Tahoe - Disaster. Survival. Restoration. 2007. Pediment Publishing.

On June 24th 2007 the Angora Fire raged out of the Eldorado National Forest and into the Meyers subdivision of South Lake Tahoe. When the fire was finally controlled three days later, 254 homes had been burned in the largest and most destructive fire in Lake Tahoe history.

The Tahoe Daily Tribune and sister papers in the Sierra Media Group found themselves at the center of a national story. ‘Round the clock news and pictures were in demand. In the aftermath, they realized that no one was better equipped to tell the whole story, and so produced this combination of reportage and photography.

The reports are compelling tales of private terror, loss, and grief, but also of courage, indomitable spirit, and the will to rebuild with strong community support.

The photography is even more compelling. One picture shows a swing set, the plastic seats melted in the fire. Another shows a statue of St. Francis, the patron saint of wildlife, against a backdrop of charred rubble and a destroyed forest. Aerial shots are excellent.

Angora is an important record of disaster and response, of heartbreak and renewed resolve. Angora is the hands-on story, the insider’s viewpoint. It springs from the people most affected, and is a testimony of residents and neighbors. That makes it different than your average fire chronicle, and special.

There is a good chance that Angora will never appear in your library. A limited number of copies are available from the Tahoe Daily Tribune [here]. Proceeds from the sale of the book are dedicated to helping Angora Fire victims.

29 Jan 2008, 7:01pm
People and Fire
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The Monster Reared His Ugly Head

Paxon, Jim. The Monster Reared His Ugly Head: The Story of the Rodeo-Chediski Fire and Fire As a Tool of Nature. 2007. Cedar Hill Publishing [here]

Short review by Mike Dubrasich, with Excerpts

Jim “the fire guy” Paxon was the Information Officer on the Rodeo-Chediski Fire. In 2002 that fire consumed 470, 000 acres and was largest and most expensive fire in the recorded history of Arizona.

In The Monster Reared His Ugly Head Paxon recounts the day by story of the Rodeo-Chediski Fire with the polished prose of a pro IO, but in very unbureaucratic personal terms. He begins the story with a description of the forest and his personal experience, knowledge, and relationship to it.

This sets the appropriate stage, because the fire was personal to a great many people. What burned down was not wildlands but homelands.

Paxon tells of the Ancient Ones and their fires. The early inhabitants of the Mongollan Rim were agriculturalists and apartment dwellers, builders of Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon. The Apaches came later to the White Mountains, but Like the Ancient Ones, the Apaches wielded anthropogenic fire, regular seasonal fires that encouraged nuts, berries, forage for game, and safety from catastrophic fires.

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21 Jan 2008, 6:36pm
Resident Stewardship
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Forestry in Indian Country

Over the last twenty years there has been one clear, consistent, and surprisingly infallible advocate for forests, Mr. James Petersen of the Evergreen Foundation. Jim is the founder, publisher, and editor of Evergreen Magazine [here].

Evergreen Magazine is a step above any other forestry periodical, but occasionally Jim publishes a super issue, one that is truly archival. Winter 2005-2006, is one such ground-breaking, deeply insightful, historic work. Entitled Forestry in Indian Country: Models of Sustainability for Our Nation’s Forests? the issue examines forestry as practiced by Native Americans on tribal reservations and compares it to forestry practiced on our National Forests. It is a superb collection of essays, expert reports, and stunning photography (many by Larry Workman of the Quinault Nation).

So much is revealed in this issue. The first articles are by outsiders, Euro-American forest scientists with political foci. They seek to impose “helpful” red-tape bureaucratic burdens on the tribes. They do not mention the interwoven historical nature of the forest and the Indians. Their approach is sadly prejudicial and bigoted. Imagine telling people who have managed their land successfully for thousands of years how the white man thinks it ought to be done, complete with phony ecology and “natural” catastrophic fire.

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21 Jan 2008, 6:33pm
Public/Private Land Issues
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The Egley Fire

by various authors, including

bear bait
and others

Published by the Western Institute for Study of the Environment, Jan, 21, 2008

Full text [here]


This whole Egley deal stinks. The biggest part of the fire is a reburn on ground roasted in 1990. I wonder if there is an agenda there.

My anger is beyond words. My estimation of the Feds fire suppression abilities is the lowest. The frigging feds are worthless.

My friend just sent pictures of his cabin and bunk house, both burned to the ground. He lost it all. He did all the right things: built a pond with a half million gallons of water storage fed by a robust spring system right next to the cabin and had thinned and limbed his timber and burned the piles. And now it all is gone to ashes.

I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. That’s my friend standing on the pavement, fire racing for his little ranch and cabin, his piece of Paradise, where he has been an outstanding steward.


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