|Blueways System is just a baby step|
Letter to the Editor:
In my most cynical moments, I look back upon two events that have been turning points in man’s seemingly unfettered path to planetary destruction.
The first was “Silent Spring,”?a book by Rachel Carson that brought about awareness of the bioaccumulation of DDT through the food chain and its environmental impact, notably in the decline of birds of prey (including Eagle River’s namesake) as well as carcinogenesis and genetic damage.The use of DDT was subsequently banned throughout the U.S., and restricted worldwide. Of course Monsanto, American Cyanamid and other chemical corporations took the predicatable path of a hyperbolic disinformation campaign, blaming Ms. Carson for 80 million death from malaria.
In fact, the use of DDT in controlling malaria was never banned. Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture had previously initiated regulatory actions, before her book had been published. Mosquitoes were developing resistance to DDT, and rampant use of the chemical was deemed counterproductive.
The second event was in 1969 when the Cuyahoga River, which flows through Cleveland into Lake Erie, became so polluted that it actually caught fire. Although there had been more than a dozen fires on the Cuyahoga, this one made the cover of Time magazine, attracting national attention. The following year President Nixon signed an executive order establishing the Environmental Protection Agency, and in 1972 Congress passed the Clean Water Act.
These two events demonstrate how public awareness can trump corporate power. The first case also demonstrates how we must be vigilant in differentiating fact from corporate-sponsored or ideological disinformation.
Recently a writer to this column disparaged the National Blueways System, and ridiculed “wildlife migration corridors and .?.?. sustainable use of private lands.” He was concerned about “private property rights and individual liberty — the essence of what keeps free people free and government contained.”
First of all, National Blueways System participation is “entirely voluntary and locally driven;” furthermore, it involves no “changes in private property or water rights.”?As far as entire watersheds and migration corridors are concerned, it is essential to look at the whole picture since all of the parts are interconnected, or to paraphrase an old saying, stuff rolls downhill, or flows downstream.
If you live in the headwaters, life is grand; while at the mouth, life may not be sustainable. Private property rights ?must be interpreted in context of stewardship and individual liberty does not imbue freedom from responsibility in ownership.
There was a time when property rights?were cited as the justification for the peculiar institution of slavery. Emancipation did not come from the benevolent circumspection of slaveowners. It took a Civil War with 600,000 deaths to effectuate the moral imperative of abolition.
Historically, property rights are what people in power want them to be. Property rights of the Choctaw, Seminoles, Creek, Chickasaw and Cherokee were easily dismissed when the Five Civilized Tribes were removed, under presidents Jackson and Van Buren, to Oklahoma in the Trail of Tears. Hundreds of millions of dollars (British pounds) in bribes to the powered elite of Azerbaijan ensured that BP “owned”?trillions in Caspian oil, while the Azeri lived in petroleum-stained squalor.
Public awareness, activism and perseverance will be essential to turn the battleship that is destroying our environment. The National Blueways System is just a baby step, but an important one.
|Tuesday, September 03, 2013 2:52 PM|