The Continuing Crisis of Climate Change

by lizard

The temperature in Wichita, Kansas hit 102 degrees last Sunday, the earliest 100+ temperature reading in 126 years of record keeping. Heat and no rain are combining to potentially reduce Kansas’ wheat crop by 18% this year. Climate change is here, and it will only get worse.

In Montana, thanks to the Farm Bill, the effect of climate change on our forests has produced opportunities for fast-tracking logging projects. Groups like Trout Unlimited are working with the Governor to identify and expedite those projects. When the secretive process was called out by George Ochenski, which I wrote about here, those participants got a little miffed.

The executive director of Montana Trout Unlimited, Bruce Farling, pushed back yesterday in a guest column which you can read here.

Farling offers the following justification for his organizations participation in a process that excluded the public:

Here’s the deal. The Farm Bill provided a 60-day window for governors to nominate to the nation’s secretary of agriculture national forest landscapes with documented insect infestations where logging might occur. Ochenski and crew conclude these nominations, which have yet to be accepted, automatically mean 5 million acres of Montana will be hideously logged. Hardly.

I can’t speak for the governor, but it seems a lengthy public process probably didn’t seem necessary given the deadline and the fact Montanans are already acutely aware of the bark-beetle infestations and other forest conditions targeted in the Farm Bill. So instead the governor sought advice, mainly through a few phone calls, from a balanced group representing a range of forest interests.

I wonder if Montanans are also acutely aware of the fact that the bark-beetle infestation and the threat of worsening forest fires are symptoms of climate change. Maybe groups like Trout Unlimited should bring some awareness to the underlying crisis we are facing instead of facilitating more projects for the logging industry.

Unfortunately the earth doesn’t donate money to conservation groups.


  1. Big Swede

    Must have gotten the talking points memo Liz.

    “Within weeks, President Barack Obama’s administration is set to unveil unprecedented emissions limits on power plants across the United States, much to the dismay of many Democratic candidates who are running for election in energy-producing states. Fearful of a political backlash, they wish their fellow Democrat in the White House would hold off until after the voting.”-Aljazerra America

    Another nail for the coffin.

    • Big Swede

      …..and case you haven’t noticed.

      You guys lost.

      http://thefederalist.com/2014/05/07/the-climate-change-debate-is-over-and-environmentalists-lost/

      • JC

        You realize it’s not a debate? No matter what we think, do, or study, the climate is going to change, anyways. Right? There’s no winners or losers in this “debate.” It’s all just rhetoric.

    • JC

      Reading Al Jazeera now, eh, Swede? What, Drudge get too mainstream for you that you need to read and quote the Qatar royal family’s rag? Great place for analysis of American politics and energy policy. Next you’ll be quoting RT on Ukraine. What’s the world coming too?

      • Big Swede

        Quoted RT the other day over at Mark’s place.

  2. steve kelly

    Noun
    flunky (pl. flunkies): A sycophant; a servant or hanger-on who is kept for their loyalty or muscle rather than their intellect.

    Those selected and “elected” by oligarchs and corporations are told constantly to promote rent-seeking activities in our banana republic, regardless of the long-term consequences to the landscape and life forms supported by those terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems (people included).

    These loyal servants will carry out whatever action is ordered. They will make up, and repeat however many times it takes, any cover story that rationalizes perpetual violence against the land and people of that land.

    Welcome to the colony we call Montana. Statehood and sovereignty remain a distant dream.

  3. NamelessRange

    “Maybe groups like Trout Unlimited should bring some awareness to the underlying crisis we are facing instead of facilitating more projects for the logging industry.”

    TU does raise awareness on climate change. though as you know, that isn’t their primary directive. They have contributed to scientific papers, National Geographic articles, and supported wind and solar energy projects. They’re position, which I believe is the correct one, is that climate change is here, and fish will suffer.

    http://www.tu.org/connect/groups/climate-change

    They were invited as collaborators on this rushed deal, to ensure watersheds will remain protected if some of this proposed logging occurs.

    I don’t like the way this proposal has gone down, the whole process reeks, and I hope Steve Kelly’s lawsuit is successfull. That said. The collaborators were invited to provide their input on a short notice. I don’t blame them for the language of the farm bill, and I doubt TU, the Blackfoot Challenge and the Southwest Crown Collaborative, or the Yellowstone Coalition would “sell everything out”, in absolute terms. They were invited because they are at least capable of collaboration. Unlike certain conservation groups.

    • JC

      Why is “collaboration” a good thing? Just another buzzword to separate the “ins” from the “outs.” One can participate in federal actions via public participation as outlined in NEPA without being a “collaborator.” In fact, “collaboration” has become the incantation needed to get money or contracts from certain funding sources like Pew (Standard Oil blood money).

      Nonprofits have missions, so what does Trout Unlimited’s mission, “To conserve, protect and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds” have to do with advising the Governor and USFS where to log?

      If TU wants to have input on the impact of logging on their mission, then the appropriate place to do it is through NEPA-outlined processes on a proposal or planning level. Giving in to legislative riders and piece-mealing “get-out-the-cut” is the worst form of “conservation.”

      TU deserves all the negative push-back they’re going to get from the willingness of it’s “collaborators” to fast-track projects that can’t withstand the scrutiny of a regular NEPA process.

      And that push-back most likely will result in the Governor having to rescind his recommendations to the USFS, either voluntarily or through court order. Or, if the recommendations are allowed to stand, once 3,000 acre categorically-excluded clearcuts start decimating fisheries, TU will definitely hear from their constituents.

      Nothing like a good ugly court case with TU supporting back-door, smoke-filled rooms style of politicking, or dying and dried up streams to rally their base of fisherman across the state.

      • NamelessRange

        “what does Trout Unlimited’s mission, “To conserve, protect and restore North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds” have to do with advising the Governor and USFS where to log?”

        There is a correlation and possible negative outcomes associated with logging and potential watershed damage. That is why.

        “If TU wants to have input on the impact of logging on their mission, then the appropriate place to do it is through NEPA-outlined processes on a proposal or planning level”

        I would agree. But TU didn’t write the farm bill. They were given an opportunity for input and took it. So what?

        “And that push-back most likely will result in the Governor having to rescind his recommendations to the USFS, either voluntarily or through court order. Or, if the recommendations are allowed to stand, once 3,000 acre categorically-excluded clearcuts start decimating fisheries, TU will definitely hear from their constituents”

        I hope the Gov has to rescind his recommendations. I disagree with alot of the areas he proposed(Nevada Mountains IRA, Mile Creek, South Fk Madison etc.) It does not follow though, that fisheries will be “decimated”. Not even close.

        “TU supporting back-door, smoke-filled rooms style of politicking, or dying and dried up streams to rally their base of fisherman across the state.”

        I don’t like the process either. As I said, I hope this whole thing starts over. The farm bill created a new CE. That’s that. But TU has probably purchased more instream rights than any other conservation organization out there protecting dewatered streams and headwaters, and have done excellent work all over Montana. They have opposed state development near fisheries in the Shields and Yellowstone. They have (very unpopularly) supported more stringent groundwater regulations, because groundwater effects surface waters. And a whole slew of other things. They get things done, which sometimes is ugly and imperfect.

        • JC

          “There is a correlation and possible negative outcomes associated with logging and potential watershed damage.”

          DId TU study the potential effects of possible CE’s on the environment? Not hardly.

          How is the rest of the public to know what the environmental effects of 3,000 acre clearcuts could be when “collaborators” like TU have decided it is ok to not study them? They just helped to take away the ability of the rest of the public to participate in proposed federal actions. That’s dictatorial, not “collaborative.”

          Conversion of regular USFS projects from EIS/EA to CE’s on the say-so of a few people is inevitable going to backfire, hugely. How does Bruce Farling, without a single study, know that any one piece of land is more suitable for logging than another? Or what the effects are going to be? Or what the cumulative effects of multiple projects are going to be?

          Total bull shit hubris, and he deserves all the flak he is going to get for proposing and lands for CE-style logging projects. Not to mention the personal tone he took in his editorial taking Ochenski to task. He just declared open season against those of us who advocate more protective forms of preservation, than utilitarianism.

          Nobody is saying TU hasn’t done some good. But they just fucked up big time by getting too cozy with the Governor to short-circuit normal planning processes.

  4. steve kelly

    So-called collaborators are selected by the permanent colonial government because they are first and formost loyal to its power. They are paid to agree, to conform, not to create. Collaborators in this instance do not challenge power, they have no “bottom line,” rather, they toe the party line, rather slavishly, I might add.

    Contrary to decades of state-industry propaganda, those “certain conservation groups” collaborate all the time, just not with the permanent government and its minions.

  5. NamelessRange

    That’s a nice narrative. Which ” permanent colonial government” would that be? The ones trying to convert federal lands to state lands, destroy stream access, and privatize wildlife? Or the ones that don’t? Or do you just use the word “permanent” in your own special way?

    Some conservation groups actually have skin in the game, and I might add, produce actual results in conservation. Whether it be increasing public access, fighting off those who would sell our public lands, raising awareness to those issues (such as climate change) that threaten wildlife and habitat, or funding studies – even those sometimes used against their projects. They do the dirty work, and actually get things done.

    “those “certain conservation groups” collaborate all the time, just not with the permanent government and its minions.”

    It’s no wonder “certain conservation groups” are not invited to collaborate. They would be entering the meeting crying about colonialism and oligarchy, always elevating disagreement to hyperbole.

    • JC

      So you’re ok with “colonialism and oligarchy?”

      Are we not allowed to disagree with the practices of these anachronisms?

  6. A month ago the WildWest Institute revealed to the public that Gov Bullock nominated 5 million acres of National Forest land in Montana for “fast track” logging via a hand-picked of 7 people that met in secret on the phone 5 times with absolutely no public notice, no notes taken and zero opportunity for Montanans to provide any input (See: http://bit.ly/1fS4Qu7)

    Montanans should also know that when the WildWest Institute requested basic information about this secret process (starting on April 9th), the Bullock administration stonewalled the request for 5 days and even threatened to make Montana citizens pay for this basic info.

    

The 5 million acres of National Forests nominated for “fast track” logging fall under a new provision in the Farm Bill that calls for an unlimited number of timber sales up to 3,000 acre (4.7 square miles) in size each spread across our National Forests.

    Unlike what Bruce Farling with Montana Trout Unlimited these National Forest timber sales are “categorically excluded from the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.” That’s a direct quote from the bill, Bruce, so please look it up.

    What this means is there will be no environmental analysis as to how a timber sale could impact threatened and endangered species such as bull trout, grizzly bear and lynx. Opportunities for meaningful public input have also been severely curtailed, including removal of the citizen appeal and objection process.

    To help put this 5 million acres in perspective, it’s estimated that 65-80% of the forested acres of the Lolo and Kootenai National Forests – outside of Wilderness – are nominated for “fast track” logging, including everything colored green, tan or red on this map: http://bit.ly/1mV4jtP. As a backcountry, public lands hunter I can assure you that many pockets of prime wildlife habitat and beautiful, ecologically-diverse National Forests have been nominated for “fast track” logging. Get on the ground and see for yourself.

    Recent columns by the Montana timber industry and a handful of “collaborators” defending this secret process ignore the fact that the February conference call agenda clearly states: “April 1st deadline to Governor – after broader public review/input” (http://bit.ly/1m7NDyL). But as we all know now, that public review and input was never allowed.

 Why doesn’t Bruce Farling be honest about this fact with the public? I mean, he was part of the secret, hand-picked group, so Bruce Farling must have been fully aware of the February agenda that stated, “April 1st deadline to Governor – after broader public review/input,” right?

    In a recent column, NWF’s Tom France tried to paint anyone with concerns about the secret “fast track” logging nomination process as part of “fringe groups.” In his Missoulian column, Farling took it a step further by claiming, anyone with concerns about the secret, no-notice, no-public input process or the pending Farm Bill “fast track” logging are a “tiny clique representing pretend “institutes,” “councils” and “alliances.” Unfortunately, this is just more deception from Bruce Farling.

    
Fact is (and Bruce Farling is fully aware of this) WildEarth Guardians – a group that’s won awards for working within open and transparent processes, and with 43,000 members in Montana and across the country – wrote Gov Bullock and requested that he withdraw the designation and restart a full process open to the public, not just hand-picked timber lobbyists and a few other people (bit.ly/PL11uz).

 So is WildEarth Guardians and their 43,000 members a “tiny clique” or a “pretend” group, Bruce?

    Furthermore, just this week 45 conservation groups (representing over 1 million people in America) sent a letter to the U.S. Senate leadership expressing concerns with the Fast Track National Forest logging provision within the Farm Bill, and requested that Sec 8204 of the Farm Bill be excluded from receiving any appropriations. Read the letter for yourself here: http://bit.ly/1fPVe3p.

 Again, Bruce Farling is fully aware of this fact, but would rather engage in more deception, than be truthful with the public.

    Unfortunately, this is just the latest evidence of the Montana timber industry working with a few well-funded conservation organizations to greatly increase National Forest logging in Montana by weakening our environmental laws, “categorical excluding” NEPA analysis and limiting opportunities for meaningful citizen input. Montanans and our public lands and wildlife deserve far better.

    Finally, it should be pointed out that Trout Unlimited is a conservative fishing group that doesn’t even bother to participate in the public, citizen NEPA process for most National Forest timber sales in Montana. In fact, I can’t think of one single National Forest timber sale in Montana in the past 20 years that Trout Unlimited has actually opposed or expressed concern with. This includes all the timber sales during the 8 years under George W. Bush when the U.S. Forest Service was run by former timber industry lobbyist Mark Rey. Thanks.

    • Big Swede

      How many trout survive catastrophic forest fires? Grizzlies? Lynx?

      “While wildfires, per se, are entirely natural, the size, intensity and harm caused annually by the past decade’s forest fires are almost entirely of human origin: federal mismanagement of our national forests are to blame.

      The U.S. Forest Service estimates that more than 190 million acres of public land are at risk of catastrophic fires, including 60 percent our national forests. Too many trees, too much brush, and bureaucratic regulations and lawsuits filed by environmental extremists are to blame. Timber harvests have plunged more than 75 percent from 12 billion board feet per year to less than 4 billion board feet per year. The result: historically large ponderosa pines which grew in stands of 20 to 55 trees per acre now grow (and burn) in densities of 300 to 900 trees per acre.

      Increase and expedite logging, especially in forests where more timber is dead or dying than growing.
      Twenty years ago, a wildfire exceeding 100,000 acres was deemed to be catastrophic. Today, such large-scale fires are the rule rather than the exception. For instance, in 1998 there were 81,043 wildfires, burning 1,329,704 acres; but in 2007, 85,705 fires burned 9,328,045 acres. In 2011, 74,126 fires left 8,711,367 acres in cinders – below 2007’s amount but still well above the average.”-Burnett, NYT.

    • NamelessRange

      Mr. Kohler, I largely agree with you and the 45 conservation groups regarding the Farm Bill CE. I don’t particularly like it. I don’t like the specific proposals in it, and I don’t like the public being shut out.

      But to call TU conservative, is to use the word conservative in a way the vast majority would not when they say the word conservative.

      Would a conservative organization oppose the Pebble Mine? It’s not conservative to oppose mining in Alaska.

      Would a conservative organization oppose any changes to Montana’s Stream Access Law(the most liberal in the country)? No.

      Would a conservative organization oppose numerous proposals for leasing state and federal lands for O and G development on Shields, Yellowstone, and Beaverhead? No.

      I can’t tell you why TU has not opposed logging projects in MT. They have opposed underwater logging across the country and large logging projects in the Tongass.

      I can guess why they haven’t in MT though. It is probably a cost/benefit decision based on a combination of the logging project not having great enough effect on fisheries to justify the risk of litigation. Sometimes money is better spent on instream rights(which are expensive), as opposed to attorneys. Perhaps it’s strategy.

      In the same way that (as far as I know), Wild Earth Guardians and the AWR sit silently by as “conservatives” in the legislature attack stream access, attempt to privatize wildlife in Montana, and propose bills of no-net-gain in public lands (all of which could potentially have a greater net-loss for wildlands and wildlife than fast track logging)- I don’t then assume that those organizations support those measures. Rather, I just assume they are focused on other things.

      • NamelessRange

        Granted, I am aware to express an opinion under the NEPA process doesn’t really cost anything.

  7. steve kelly

    Nameless…,

    “That’s a nice narrative. Which ” permanent colonial government” would that be? The ones trying to convert federal lands to state lands, destroy stream access, and privatize wildlife? Or the ones that don’t? Or do you just use the word “permanent” in your own special way?”

    My use of “permanent” describes a timeline, and a set of conditions, not policy statements or rhetoric used primarily to deceive, and/or secure financial support from right-wing organizations and wealthy individuals.

    I do not know when or exactly how permanent government began in this country, but am old enough to have experienced the Nov. 22, 1963 coup d’etat and numerous assassinations and false-flag events that continue uninvestigated and misreported to this day. I also know how violence, fear, land-grab and slavery seem to travel together as capital searches endlessly for profit.

    I respect your opinion, however, I may disagree. I have my own, thanks. Happy to listen to your theories and discuss mine. And again, thanks Liz for the opportunity to speak frankly.

  8. Billings Dad

    Ok guys –

    About 22,000 years ago, North America was half-covered in ice.

    About 11,000 years ago, the ice-age ended.

    What caused the ice to melt ? Global Warming, or the new term, ‘Climate Change’.

    Was this warming caused by factories, or Al Gore’s private jet ?

    No, it was part of an unstoppable cycle, that Al Gore turned into a religion.

    Debate all you want, and pray to Al Gore that you can heat your business by using Unicorn farts if you want, but nothing is going to stop climate change.

    • Dan

      “The good thing about science is that it’s true, whether or not you believe it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson
      Somewhere in this big wide world there is a high school science teacher that failed in his/her efforts to teach you.

      • Billings Dad

        Google up the last ice age – Ice was over a mile thick above where The Great Lakes are now. I’m surprised that you, or any other person here didn’t know that.

  9. Turner

    I realize that it’s probably already be too late to save our planet from the ravages of industrialism and ignorance — like that shown by Billing Dad.. Climate change, in the next fifty years or so, will make many parts of the earth unlivable. In 100 years, it’ll be over for the rest of the planet.

    So I want to apologize for making the following pitifully inadequate recommendation.

    Vote for Dirk Adams in the primary election. He’s the only candidate of either party who’s opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline. All the rest are in the pocket of Big Oil and Big Coal.

    Stopping Keystone won’t be enough to stop the looming environmental catastrophe. But allowing it to go forward will definitely speed up the process.

    Damn! I never thought I’d become an end-timer. But how else can we interpret the data?

    • Big Swede

      You could interpret these 5 reasons.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2014/05/08/the-insiders-five-reasons-voters-dont-believe-the-white-house-about-global-warming/

      • Turner

        This climate denialist editorial in WAPO is all about how the Obama administration can’t be trusted. What does that have to do with the actual facts of climate change? Nothing.

        It doesn’t matter what you or other right-wingers “think.” It doesn’t matter how much you try to distort the data.

        Global warming is happening rapidly, and its effects are already with us. In a very few years the effects will be so pronounced that even people like you will have to acknowledge them.

        But whether you acknowledge them or not doesn’t matter.

        You don’t matter.




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