What am I doing here?

“I’ve decided to try my hand at blogging, that being the Thing To Do these days. Who knows; Something Good may even come of it.”

That’s how I started blogging, on February 6, 2005, close enough to a decade of blogging to celebrate here with an anniversary+ post.

I started out on Blogger, because it was easy and that’s about all there was at the time. I had been writing on chat groups and listserves since 1985, before “blogging” became part of the Internet lexicon. I’d authored my own web sites, joined in conversation on the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link, The Well, which is still active, though it is no longer free. I  was  involved in a decade long conversation about Ed Abbey on the Abbeyweb, an early web site/discussion list about the author of The Monkey Wrench Gang and Desert Solitaire.

After ten years of blogging, and 671 posts as Hayduke Blogs, under the influence of the aforementioned Ed Abbey, I felt it was time for a change. On November 21, 2015, I shifted my blog to WordPress, and renamed it Words Arranged to encompass my other writing efforts.

Things are changing these days in the world of environmental activism. The word “environmentalist” seems to have tarnished a bit among the millennials, discredited by Big Green compromises to gain political power and influence, not to mention money. The concepts of bioregionalism and reinhabitory strategies have disappeared down the memory hole, “Global Warming” (sic) has taken over and subsumed all else as the be-all and end-all of “environmental” focus.

Over the past few months I’ve been reviewing the literature of the 60s and 70s, written by Peter Berg, Raymond Dassman, Aldo Leopold, Jerry Mander, Kirkpatrick Sale, Ernest Callenbach, David Brower, Ed Abbey, Dave Foreman, Howie Wolke, Murray Bookchin, and many others. I’ve found that everything necessary to understand conservation, ecology, bioregionalism and environmentalism was written by 1990, and after that, very little additional work on these subjects was published.

The confluence of Big Greens and “Global Warming” hysteria undoubtedly have much to do with the demise of environmentalism, in all its forms, in popular consciousness. Now with Johnny-Come-Latelies such as Michael Shellenberger and the “Breakthrough (sic) Institute” pimping for nukes and coal in the name of environmentalism, the concepts are further obfuscated.

What am I doing here? Why Words Arranged into sentences, paragraphs, blogs, comments and web sites?

In the past few years I’ve become increasingly disturbed with the human propensity to lay waste to the neighborhood, including the neighbors, human and non-. My orientation as an anthropologist, albeit an archaeologist, has heretofore proffered up excuses for human foibles, but lately historical analogies have paled in comparison to the very real and immediate idiocies foisted on the natural world by human growth and development.

As time grinds on, I’m feeling a greater urge to sing the song of the ultimate necessity for defense of the natural world, its habitats and resident species. There’s not many of us left to carry the tune. David Brower is dead. Aldo Leopold is dead.  John Muir and Ed Abbey are dead. And lately I haven’t been feeling so well myself. (Apologies to Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

I realize I have fewer and fewer decisions left in my life and the pressure to make them count for something increases with each Natal Day. With book publishing thoroughly mired in the corporate feeding frenzy, the chances of publishing  a physical book read by anyone other than my own family are slim to none. Blogging seems to be the only outlet capable of preserving the ideas and concepts I hold dear and presenting them to tender readers in a wider audience.

The Internet is a many-edged sword, fraught with meaningless distractions, rampant trivia, misinformation and outright lies. Nevertheless, it can be a singular avenue between my rapidly fossilizing brain and the much more impressionable cranial organs on the other side of this computer screen.

Environmentalism may not be what it used to be, but it will have to do until something better comes along.

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50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

Wilderness and wild spaces, even not so wild open spaces in urban areas, are increasingly under attack by gearheads, young recreationists and self-centered entitlement aficionados. Their mantra is “antiquated laws,” which they chant whilst lobbying policy makers to change or rescind regulations to allow them unfettered access to places that have been long protected for their unique natural values.

No one is surprised by this contradictory behavior. Humans have always been masters at straining at gnats and swallowing camels. Popular human culture is replete with self-defeating behavior by a populace in thrall to consumerism and corporate personhood.

It remains for us 60ish conservationists to trod heavily in our expensive hiking boots in the path of the unknowing, youthful recreational enthusiasts, while we still have the gumption, intestinal fortitude and energy left to defend the wild at every opportunity, stand in their faces and so to them, “No, you will not destroy this wild place.

These laws regulate behavior that is destructive to the very characteristics of wild lands that make them attractive to humans in the first place. Those screaming the loudest for access are lobbying for the right to destroy that which they profess to enjoy.

What they refuse to understand is that environmental laws and regulations do not exclude anyone from these areas. It is behavior that is excluded, not individuals or groups of humans.

This past week, my wife and I celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act by hiking into the Hoover Wilderness in the east Sierra above Mono Lake.

No toys, no gear, just us and our feet, eyes, ears, noses and skin. It was a healing walk, away from the din of what passes for civilization in the “developed” world.

But love of the wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need – if only we had eyes to see.” – Ed Abbey

When More Is Too Much

Testimony at the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) of Santa Cruz County in opposition to two resolutions to approve an increase in water service area for an expanded University of California Santa Cruz campus:

My name is Michael Lewis. I am a water customer of the Santa Cruz City Water Department living in Live Oak. This means that I cannot vote on City water policy, but I have to pay for it. I rode my bicycle to this meeting to ask you to postpone the decision on expanding City water service on the UCSC campus until you have all relevant information.

The City has spent millions of dollars documenting the fact that City growth has exceeded available water supplies, in an attempt to justify their plan to build a 2.5 million gallons per day ocean water desalination plant. The City is studying this possibility but has not yet decided that the plant can be built. So we are told.
Meanwhile opposition to the desal plant is growing, especially in the unincorporated Santa Cruz County where 34,000 of my neighbors cannot vote on City water policy but are forced to pay for it.
In order to justify its plan to expand water service to the UCSC campus, the City promises to offset the increased UCSC water demand through increased water conservation by all other water customers. This is interesting, since the City has spent millions of dollars in public relations to convince Santa Cruz City and County water customers that there is no capacity in the water system for increased conservation and the only option available to meet the City’s growing water demands is a desal plant.

I’m confused. Which Santa Cruz City Water Department am I to believe, the one that says we can have increased water conservation, or the one that says we can’t? 

Many years ago, Ed Abbey told us, “Unlimited growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell.” When growth exceeds critical resources, it’s time for growth to stop.

In light of these uncertainties, it is irresponsible to approve water service expansion to UCSC until all the necessary information is available. Please postpone your decision on these resolutions until all the facts are in. 

Going Trash-Free

While no one living in the material world can avoid producing any waste, these folks: Going Trash-Free for One Year made a stab at it.

But why only one year? Why not always?

Life isn’t a media event, a blog or a book proposal. Live simply and free. When you lower your standard of living, you raise your quality of life.

Consume thoughtfully and purposefully. Make every decision count.

Here at Bwthyn Lleuad Bai, we’ve been reducing our landfill contributions for over ten years. Nowadays, the grey wheely bin languishes neglected, rarely going out to visit its neighbors more than once every six weeks or so, and then only partially filled with vacuum cleaner dust, unavoidable unrecyclables and the odd bit of flotsam that washes up in our neighborhood on the street. Even the recycling bin goes out at three week intervals, starved for want of contents.

Meanwhile, the compost bins and the worm farm are doing well, carrying on their ancient alchemy, magically turning kitchen leavings into rich dark soil for the garden.

Folding ourselves back into the earth…

Al Gore – Environmental Visionary

“Here’s what we can do – now: we can make an immediate and large strategic investment to put people to work replacing 19th-century energy technologies that depend on dangerous and expensive carbon-based fuels with 21st-century technologies that use fuel that is free forever: the sun, the wind and the natural heat of the earth.”

Now is the time for creative thinking, and critical listening. Al Gore has long illuminated the pathway to a rational energy future, not the imaginary patriotic future of “make America energy independent,” but a very real and practical future that combines meaningful conservationhttp://beta.blogger.com/img/blank.gif with a steady state economy based on renewable energy.

Van Jones has written extensively about the green economy, proposing what amounts to a public works program to employ Americans in green jobs to revive the economy while building a green energy future.

President-elect Obama, recruit Al Gore and Van Jones for your cabinet and put their ideas, and Americans to work!