Thursday, August 15, 2019

Environmental Controversies: Avoid Group Think & Herd Mentality like the Plague

I've personally pulled away from following almost all of the non-profit environmental groups and organizations because they have become consumed more about politics and power, than actually caring about what happens to Nature. Nature is used these days as a crutch to lean on for donations for political fights. I've long since let go of the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, EcoWatch, California Chaparral Institute, to name a few. Take for example that bogus outrage over the BLM website photo controversy back in April 2017.
Image - BLM
Remember how it all started and how every single major media outlet & environmental group jumped on the hate bandwagon and exploited it for it's political & money donations worth ??? It all began with a scene from the Home page of the BLM website showing a young boy and his companion overlooking a scenic landscape, apparently on a backpacking trip, looking toward the sunrise and, presumably, a brighter future ahead. What could be more natural than than two friends out there in the outdoors enjoying Nature. BUT THEN ???
Image - BLM
Suddenly on April 7th 2019 the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published a photograph (or so everyone thought) of a large coal seam at the Peabody North Antelope Rochelle Mine in the state of Wyoming on its homepage. The move offended all the “keep it in the ground” groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, along with most Media giants like the Huffington Post & New York Times. Before long there was a massive Twittersphere uproar. Anybody who was anybody climbed on board the hate bandwagon and sided with the outrage without really doing any homework as to the truth about who technically was responsible for the photo rotation makeup of the BLM's website. All wanted to assume it was the fault of the country's newly elected leader whom they didn't approve of and wanted to hate. So just one alert by single outraged activist started a firestorm of controversy. True became the words of a biblical text from Jame 3:5:
"So, too, the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it makes great brags. See how small a fire it takes to set a great forest ablaze!"
The California Chaparral Institute also jumped on the outrage power to the people bandwagon with literally 100s upon 100s of comments from it's loyal followers chiming in with their own angry opinions. I never commented on this post until one of the followers who just happened to work for the BLM tried to calm things down and explain to everyone the truth behind the website's new photo rotation technology that had nothing to do with the country's newly elected President. Nobody wanted to listen or hear that. Instead the BLM employee was viciously attacked and the conversation became who was responsible for that photo. Suddenly the the comments went off topic into a coal vs clean alternative energy debate and that was not originally what the subject was about. I tried to defend the guy who was merely trying to explain to everyone about the BLM's newly developed IT technology within the site which was originally mandated by the previous President Obama. This was further publicly confirmed by another one of the BLM spokesman Jeff Kraus who told the NPR people in an interview that the change was meant to improve the home page with a variety of pics using an IT redesign which would allow diverse images to be rotated through the system of weekly change to illustrate the BLM agency’s multiple-use mission of balancing recreation with natural resource extraction. The rotation of photos changes every Friday, so this coal seam replaced the hiker photo and the following Friday a different photo would appear and so on.
Both myself and the BLM member (I know his name, but will not reveal it because he was afraid of blowback and losing his job by vindictive get even people on that California Chaparral Institute Facebook page). The guy was kind and respectful, but because he was so viciously attacked, he decided to delete all his posts. I private messaged him and apologized if I made things worse in defending him and perhaps I may have been the reason he deleted his posts. Here is his reply through FB Private Message:
"Nothing I said was out of line with policy or was confidential. It was more a matter of keeping a lower profile. My job is to speak publicly about the BLM and its mission. But that doesn't mean that my personal profile should be associated with individuals who advocate for any particular position. This is doubly true if I identify myself as a BLM employee. The job of the BLM is to be the neutral arbiter in the many uses of public lands. Often there is some public assumption of balance. This isn't always the case. Nothing is so cut and dry in "multiple use and sustained yield". Often lands will see one use to near exclusivity. I'm not sure that the audience on that post was ready to really know that. They're also not ready to know that the last administration under Obama presided over the more approvals of Applications for Permit to Drill of any presidency in history. All of this while protecting more acres of the public lands than any other presidency. Our mission, in all of its facets, goes on no matter who is in the Whitehouse. We just talk about different parts of it more at times. Thanks for your concern."
From that point on I've never again commented on the California Chaparral Institute's Facebook page and I've severed all commuication with them. In the past I admired them and wrote posts favourably about their mission. I don't regret writing about some of the positive aspects of Chaparral Plant Community and some of the work they have done from an educational standpoint, but they have for some time morphed far more and more into a giant political machine and I want nothing to do with either side's politics. I did fact check some of the things the BLM Member related about the previous US Administration's mandating the new upgrade in IT image rotating functions on the BLM website (nothing to do with the present leader Trump) and the inconventient truth about the former leader who had been labeled the  "Oil President". Sure enough it's all true, especially the not so environmentally friendly fracking technology for natural gas which the previous US President apparently thought would be a cleaner direction. I mean admittedly it sounded logical. No blame there.
Image - BLM
A week later, lo and behold there it was a new image showing some guy flyfishing out in Nature and a newer photo image appeared just as the BLM guy said would happen the following Friday. But deliberately and purposefully ignoring all that, here is what the Chaparral Institute's owner and admin, Richard Halsey, proclaimed to his loyal members the following Friday (April 14th 2017):

Update: October 2019 - Richard Halsey has since deleted his erroneous April 2017 Coal Seam controversey thread on his Facebook page after a sadly we had an unfortunate heated discussion on the Forest Policy Pub pages. 
Except it had nothing to do with public outrage, rabid eco-activism or collective power to the people voices sending shivers down the spine of the new leader. It was just exactly as the BLM people stated, selected images being rotated showing recreation followed by natural resource extraction photos. All around the globe environmentalist chanted and pushed the same narrative. The people spoke and the evil powers backed down. Except that's not exactly what happened the next following Friday (April 21st 2017) after another new image below appeared on the BLM website homepage. One thing you should remember about the BLM, they take hard flack from both political sides for what ever nonsense ideological reasons. It seems many times they are stuck in the middle in a thankless job.
Image - BLM
But a week later another inconvenient truth photo. An oil pipeline through pristine clean wilderness. So what ever happened to all those power to the people voices ??? The website's IT improvements, the selected rotating photographs were all the brain child of the previous USA's leadership and nothing to do with the new President. But no one did their homework and ironically no one really commented again after this new image of the oil pipeline in wilderness appeared. Fact is, the controversy was short and it basically provided the much needed outrage to get various non-profit group followers to donate more money so all the non-profit Admins could continue to fight the good fight. Without ever apologizing, these groups chalked it up to greater good rationalizations. Which takes me to another bogus claim made about a month later and milked by the same people for all it's donations worth. Remember this alarmist Headline from the Sierra Club ???
"Is the Giant Sequoia National Monument Next on the Hit List?"
Conservationists are organizing to defend this sanctuary for humongous trees
Photo by Blue Jay Photo

So, not just the Sierra Club, but almost every single Media Outlet and environmental non-profit climbed on board the new hate bandwagon and ALL of them used various misleading photographs to dupe their followers and scam for more donations to fight the good fight. The result was almost everybody fell for it. Why ??? Because people by nature are basically Lemmings and will NOT do their own homework and most of these organizations know and count on that. So they knowingly and dishonestly post images which they know full well are untrue, but meant to exaggerate and embellish on a subject for profit which once again is considered a necessary evil for the greater good.
Bogus Sierra Club Sign the Petition Drive
Image - US Forest Service
Within the current Giant Sequoia National Monument area, there are exactly 38 recognized important Giant Sequoia groves constituting about 27,830 acres of forest. When they created the National Monument, they added areas called zones of influence (natural buffers), which were included for the giant Sequoia's protection. Then the total acreage increased to just over 90,000 acres. While there is certainly no doubt that the monument creation was well-intentioned, when President Clinton designated the 327,760 acres, it unfortunately went a little too far beyond these unique Giant Sequoia forests. The result was that this massive expansion restricted & shackled the hands of the U.S. Forest Service's ability to provide responsible forest management to thin the adjacent forests to protect the Giant Sequoia groves from catastrophic megafires. But in all the eco-activist and media propaganda posts on this subject, they never once explained to their followers that there was never any intention of logging giant Sequoias by any timber company. Why ??? Here is what the University of California Forest Research and Outreach says about the wood quality of Sequoia giganteum.
"The wood from huge old-growth giant sequoia trees does not make good lumber, despite the its resistance to decay, because it is brittle and has little strength. Nevertheless, sequoias were logged in the 1870's and their wood was used for fenceposts and shake shingles." 
So it appears that the Sierra Sequoias do not exactly have the same high quality wood like the Coastal Redwoods normally sought after by the Timber industry. Most people again do not know the difference between both Redwoods nor the low value of the wood of Sequoia giganteum (Giant Sequoia of the Sierras) and why the Timber Industry in truth do not want them in the first place. Surely the Timber industry knows what happens to a giant sequoia when it slams the ground when cut down. It often shatters and is good for nothing more than fence posts and roof shakes if even salvageable. What the Forestry wanted to harvest & thin were Pine, Fir and Incense Cedar many miles away which would have provided a wildfire buffer for the Giant Sequoia groves. All that doesn't matter however to eco-groups like the Sierra Club. Not when misleading photographs are used in conjuction with donations advertisements on Facebook or other on and off line publications. The strategy is apparently successful and lucrative or they would stop doing it. For an excellent read and explanation of the true low value of Giant Sequoia wood and it's history of shattering to pieces when cut down, here is a read from the National Park Service.
Do your homework before handing over your hard earned money to Non-Profits
Image of the Sierra Club Ad for Donations
News Flash: Here's today's BLM Home page image
Image from BLM Home Page now (August 2019)
The photo above was taken at the massive wind turbine farms complex near Palm Springs California and can be found on the BLM Home page. This industry isn't exactly eco-green either. This whole topic of misleading environmentalism is exhausting and overwhelmingly tiring. It does zero to encourage people (opponents) to embrace and love Nature more than they did before. It's a major turn-off. My original reason for posting about this subject was inspired by a recent EcoWatch article I saw where the author used an Arches National Park photo with actual arches to make Readers & Followers believe the natural arches themselves were in danger of destruction from natural gas fracking companies. Yes, some sort of exploration probably would be taking place somewhere nearby, but probably within a hundred miles, not within the Park at the Arches itself. Never the less, optics are everything in this day and age of agenda pimping.
Arches National Park. Chris Dodds / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Another example of a deliberately published misleading photo below is the Chaco Canyon Indian Ruins and the same headlines used to steer people in the direction of our opponents want to frack and drill right here at this ancient Anasazi Ruins site. This misleading photograph comes from the San Juan Citizen Alliance in Utah which contains countless other misleading photo examples on their organization's activist website.
Image -
People today need to take a long pause and question who and what they are supporting. Do your homework. Before you jump on the latest outrage bandwagon, think before you leap. Stop immediately reposting unverified misleading junk on a social media site because you want to be considered one of the Kool Kids on the Outraged Activist playground. Think and ponder for a moment about what you did with your life before all this online social media outrage insanity stuff. There's another good biblical text which perfectly illustrates the need for caution when it comes to not questioning someone else's assumptions, assertions and outright frauds. Proverbs 14:15 >>>
"Only a simpleton believes everything he’s told! A prudent man understands the need for proof."
The old terminology for today's dishonest reporting was use to be called "Yellow Journalism" which has now morphed into the unfortunate modern term we know as "Fake News." Whatever term is used, it's not news reporting, but advocacy. But I suppose it was bound to happen. For all parents out there who may be reading this post, steer your children away from all these organizations. Take a personal hands on responsibility approach and educate your own kids about nature. It'll take effort of course. I realize camping is out as most people rarely camp anymore like they did in the old days. Day trips can be fun and an excellent way of a parent educating and instilling healthy deep appreciation of nature. This requires a little effort in nature education on the part of the parent. Don't rely on advocacy non-profit literature for your own education.

Image - OutdoorFamilyAdventures

We live in an age of TV, Computers, and electronic gadgets and children are not being exposed to the simple pleasures of exploring nature. It's tough and challenging enough that they have busy school schedules and extra-curricular sports activities leaving them with little simple time of just playing outdoors. Sadly many neighbourhoods have become so built up that there are almost no grassy wild areas left for them to enjoy. Even if there are parks and playgrounds nearby, these are often too structured to invite more important curious nature exploration. Depending on your neighbourhood, the public park can also be a dangerous place. Hiking is an excellent activity for people of all ages and it's definitely the perfect activity for you to share with your children. The goal should not be so much about how far you hike in terms of  distance goals covered, but those numerous stops and pauses along the way. The subject for pause could be a plant, a lizard, a bird, a squirrel or even an Ant hill. Nuture your kid's curiosity about wholesome things. Remember that parenting is your job and not the responsibility of Public Schools and Environmental Groups. Start from infancy, because later on your kids will be exposed (whether you wish it or not) to all manner of irresponsible ideological and political indoctrination from Kindergarden onward. Look where Millennials are now.
NEWS FLASH: Debunking the fake Amazon rainforest fire pictures shared by celebrities.
YOUTUBE: Debunking Fake Photos 
Unbelievable, fake old photos, some over sixteen years old, some older and often not from Amazon forest used to propagandize another urgent crisis for money donations. Here is the link to the Yahoo propaganda article which concludes with a list of non-profits to throw money at for the good fight.
This picture was taken in 1989 (Picture: Rex)
Although it shows a fire in the Amazon, it’s actually a stock photo taken in the 1980s by a photographer from National Geographic, which has been used by various news outlets since, including Carbon Brief last year. Other pictures of poor charred wildlife are taken from different forest fires in North American, not Amazon. That image of a burned rabbit has been shared over 1000 times, but it's actually from fires in Malibu, California. At some point many will simply turn their backs on these Cry Wolf sob stories and when something real comes along, there will be no support.
The answer to the question above should be a no brainer to most all active hands on parents. Allowing environmental groups to guide and control your children through political indictrination at an early age should be discouraged. Kids need an innocent surroundings. Our modern human society has destroyed most of these country rural environments. Even elementary school is not a healthy nurturing place any longer. They too have become an unhealthy political activist indoctrination center. 
In Southern California most of the rivers and rural creeks and streams are dead and long gone Most have been converted over to concrete lined flood channels.
Image - Chris Morissette - Escondido Creek conrete channel

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