Daily Archives: April 24, 2012

Nature Conservancy Scientist Says “Nature is often resilient, not fragile”

We’ve written before about scientists accused of fabricating data (*cough*Ann Maest*cough*) to “prove” their radical agenda, so it’s only right to highlight those scientists who look at the data and do not try to manipulate it to fit their particular world view.

Meet Dr. Peter Kareiva, chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy. With a master’s degree in environmental biology and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology, Dr. Kareiva has worked in academics and conservation for over thirty years.

What makes Dr. Kareiva and his work stand out in the scientific community is his willingness to follow the data, question long-held beliefs that were based on assumptions and speak out about what is actually happening in the environment today.

“We love the horror story,” Kareiva said. He was dressed in New Balance running shoes, a purple sweater and rumpled tan trousers. “We just love it. The environmental movement has loved it. That, I think, is … [a] strategy failure. And it’s actually not supported by science.”

This is not some vague hypothesis, he added to murmurs. He’s seen it in the data.

“The message [has been that] humans degrade and destroy and really crucify the natural environment, and woe is me,” he said. “The reality is humans degrade and destroy and crucify the natural environment – and 80 percent of the time it recovers pretty well, and 20 percent of the time it doesn’t.”

Of course, this makes him wildly unpopular with those who do not actually take the scientific approach. He’s been called a “know-it-all,” a “bomb-thrower,” a “provocateur.”  Early writings of his at The Nature Conservancy so outraged fellow scientists they wanted him reprimanded and TNC to forbid him to write articles like it ever again.

So how DOES The Nature Conservancy feel about this? Well…

On the Gulf Coast, for example, it recently planned a mile and a half of oyster reef. Rather than just scouting for the most ecologically vital spot, though, the conservancy also accounted for low-income towns that could most suffer from a storm surge and gain from having a reef to help block it. One of those vulnerable regions got the reef.

How refreshing – a scientist and an organization that understand that people are also a part of nature and take us into account.

Dr. Kareiva is an excellent model of what his profession should be about—following the data—rather than activist-scientists trying to promote their own political agenda.


EPA Announces Plan to Use Clean Water Act to Preemptively Strike Down Pebble Mine Project Permits

Last month the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suffered what should have been an embarrassing defeat when the Supreme Court ruled that Mike and Chantell Sackett could bring suit against the EPA. That Supreme Court decision was the culmination of a costly 3-year battle between the Sackett’s and the powerful Obama Environmental Protection Agency which used the Clean Water Act in an attempt to prevent the couple from building their home on their property in Idaho.

Apparently the Sackett ruling might not have been such an embarrassment to the mega-bureaucratic government agency because just last week the EPA announced plans to use the Clean Water Act to preemptively prevent the Pebble Mine Project from being built in Alaska. This battle has also been going on for about three years.

It seems that many of the well-heeled in Alaska and Oregon don’t want the Pebble Mine Project built close to an area they consider their personal playground, Bristol Bay, Alaska. And so, under the guise of environmentalism, the powerful few help finance astroturf campaigns and environmental activists in an attempt to ‘Keystone’ the Pebble Mine Project without concern for the Native populations of the area and the much needed jobs and the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be infused into the depressed economy both directly and indirectly.

These NIMBY activists (Not in My Back Yard) have shut down projects across the country. The most famous recent case is the Keystone Pipeline. Now, through the EPA’s announcement last week, it seems the next Obama Administration ‘Keystoning’ will be focused on the Pebble Mine Project.

The question is, what does anyone have to gain by preventing mining, transporting oil or even a couple from building a house in Idaho? Why is there an entire large government agency focusing its attention and spending tax-payer money on preventing these projects that would only help the economy, give people jobs and lower energy prices?

By all appearances it has mostly to do with returning political favors and asserting power, both over those attempting to get the permits and those who are having to pay the price of having to buy energy from places like China, Chile, Venezuela and who knows where else. Those countries are reaping the profits while Americans are paying the price.

Barack Obama: “Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” (January 2008) – Video