Seeds of Change:
Solutions sprouting from grass-roots efforts
By Tom Knudson
(Published April 26, 2001 - 5 of 5)
Change is knocking on the door of America's environmental movement. Change is remodeling it from within.
From the outside, the pressure is coming from ranchers, corporate executives, small-town merchants, educators, schoolkids and other ordinary people embracing a home-grown style of environmentalism that is quietly saving species, restoring forests and grasslands, and preserving open space.
From the inside, it is coming from a broad spectrum of environmentalists -- chief executive officers, fund-raising specialists, state directors, program officers, lawyers and others -- struggling to bring more science, entrepreneurial skill, accountability, teamwork and results to a movement they say has grown self-righteous, inefficient, chaotic and shrill.
"Haphazard conservation is worse than haphazard development. We've had haphazard conservation for 30 years," said Patrick Noonan, chairman of The Conservation Fund, a Virginia group that provides financial and technical support to small environmental organizations.
Yet this new brand of stewardship remains more seed than storm, lacking the clamor and conflict that often accompany environmental news. Its disciples do not view the world darkly. Their habitat is one of hope, not hype.
"We've effectively sold the idea that the world is screwed up," said Dan Taylor, executive director of the National Audubon Society's California chapter. "What people are looking for now are some durable solutions on how to make it better."
Playing with fire: Spin on science
puts national treasure at risk
(Fourth of five parts)
By Tom Knudson
Bee Staff Writer
(Published April 25, 2001)
The scientific paper that landed on Tammy Randall-Parker's desk was thick with jargon and data. But to Randall-Parker, a biologist with the Coconino National Forest in Arizona, it was riveting.
Citing an enormous accumulation of vegetation and deadwood in Western forests -- the legacy of years of effective federal firefighting -- the report by a prestigious team of specialists warned that unless such stands were thinned, they were likely to erupt into flame, threatening a rare, falcon-like bird: the northern goshawk.
Randall-Parker felt compelled to act. But when she and others suggested thinning near a goshawk nest, environmentalists protested on the bird's behalf, stopping the proposal dead.
Then came the fire that Randall-Parker feared. "I watched it just explode," she said. The 1996 blaze devoured centuries-old trees as if they were kindling -- including the one that cradled the goshawk nest.
"There was not a green tree left," she said. "What the scientists said could happen -- did happen, right in front of my eyes."
Environmental advocacy has long struggled with scientific fact, despite its very basis in science. But in the battle over the majestic conifer forests that blanket much of the West, advocacy is often shoving science aside -- and forests, wildlife and human communities are suffering the consequences.
Tweaking science to make a point is nothing new for environmental groups. To protect rare species, for example, some groups trot out just those studies -- or snippets of studies -- that support their view. Some will pick and choose facts that serve their interests in campaigns to create wilderness areas.
Litigation central: A flood of costly lawsuits raises questions about motive
(Third of five parts)
By Tom Knudson
Bee Staff Writer
(Published April 24, 2001)
No one knows the Sacramento splittail better than Peter Moyle.
For 20 years, Moyle, a professor of fisheries biology at the University of California, Davis, has struggled to protect the silvery fish that lives in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. He even helped prepare a petition requesting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service list the fish under the Endangered Species Act in 1992.
But when the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity sued the wildlife service in 1998 to force a ruling on the petition, Moyle wasn't pleased.
The reason? By then, three wet winters had touched off a splittail population explosion. What's more, a multibillion-dollar habitat restoration plan for the Delta, called Cal-Fed, was brightening the fish's future.
"I was sorry to see it," Moyle said of the suit. "Things were getting better."
When Moyle later learned that the center's law firm had been awarded $13,714 in public money for a court victory that led to the fish being listed as "threatened," he was shocked.
Suing the government has long been a favorite tactic of the environmental movement -- used to score key victories for clean air, water and endangered species. But today, many court cases are yielding an uncertain bounty for the land and sowing doubt even among the faithful.
Green machine: Mission adrift in a frenzy of fund raising
(Second of five parts)
By Tom Knudson
Bee Staff Writer
(Published April 23, 2001)
I need your help to stop an impending slaughter.
Otherwise, Yellowstone National Park -- an American wildlife treasure -- could soon become a bloody killing field. And the victims will be hundreds of wolves and defenseless wolf pups!
So begins a fund-raising letter from one of America's fastest-growing environmental groups -- Defenders of Wildlife.
Using the popular North American gray wolf as the hub of an ambitious campaign, Defenders has assembled a financial track record that would impress Wall Street.
In 1999, donations jumped 28 percent to a record $17.5 million. The group's net assets, a measure of financial stability, grew to $14.5 million, another record. And according to its 1999 annual report, Defenders spent donors' money wisely, keeping fund-raising and management costs to a lean 19 percent of expenses.
But there is another side to Defenders' dramatic growth.
Special Series in the Sacramento Bee
By Pulitzer Prize Winning Writer Tom Knudson
To our readers
(Published April 22, 2001)
Today, on the 31st anniversary of Earth Day, the environmental movement is at a crossroads. No one can deny its many successes in preserving precious natural resources, but they have come with a price. In fact, some say the environmental movement is fighting for its very soul.
In this five-part series, Tom Knudson, The Bee's Pulitzer Prize-winning environmental reporter, examines the high-powered fund raising, the litigation and the public relations machine that has come to characterize much of the movement today. His stories are based on exhaustive research conducted over 16 months with travel to 12 states and northern Mexico. And what he has found is that the movement established, in part, to combat the influence of the powerful has itself become big business.
-- Rick Rodriguez
The NZ Climate Science Coalition- press release- 20 September 2012
“Day 258 of 2012 is the highest for this date since satellite scanning of Antarctic ice areas commenced 33 years ago” the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition announced today. “It is also the fifth highest daily value on record.”
Coalition chairman, Hon Barry Brill, says the most remarkable aspect is the extent to which the 2012 area exceeds normal Antarctica averages. “The sea ice cover yesterday was 311,000 square kilometres above the 1979-2012 average. The surplus ice is more than twice the area of New Zealand”.
“The Antarctic dimensions come partly at the expense of Arctic sea ice” said Mr Brill. “Over the 33-year period aggregate global sea ice volumes have remained steady, but there are fluctuations between the two polar areas from year to year. The fluctuations are the result of ocean currents and wind patterns, rather than temperatures”.
“Antarctic ice is much more important than that of the Arctic. The area of its sea ice is a million square kilometres larger than the highest value ever recorded in the Arctic. Then, of course, the Antarctic is an entire continent, with more than 90% of the earth’s glacial ice” said Mr Brill.
Mr Kennedy Graham MP, PhD
Green List MP
cc Rt. Hon Lockwood Smith MP, PhD
Hon Amy Adams MP, Minister for the Environment
100 Days before the end of the Kyoto Protocol, pressure group says Climate will be key to independence debate.
As a result of finding out that the Kyoto commitments technically comes to an end on the 31st December, the Scottish Climate & Energy Forum have been investigating the likely consequences of this both in terms of what is likely to happen to the protocol and the wide implications when (as it seems) the protocol effectively ends operation on the 31st December.
We have written this up as a report. The main intention of this report has been to try to find the actual facts and having sorted the chaff from the wheat, ascertain what this might mean (with particular emphasis on Scotland).
The report has been produced to coincide with today which is 100 days to Kyoto Ends, and it is available on the website:
For obvious reasons, the report is biased toward Scotland and we can only really speak with authority about the Scottish context. We will welcome any comments on the report, criticism or suggestions for improvement.
Summary of main conclusions:
1. Commitments under the Kyoto Protocol cease as of 31st December.
2. The 3rd October 2012 is the latest date at which any amendment to the Kyoto protocol could have been passed for it to be operational by 1st January 2013.
3. With no meeting planned, and huge delays for members states to ratify, there is no practical way for an amendment to be presented and ratified by the 143 members (3/4 of members).
4. CONSENSUS SCIENCE
The term “consensus science” will often be appealed to regarding arguments about climate change to bolster an assertion. This is a form of “argument from authority.” Consensus, however, is a political notion, not a scientific notion.
As I testified to the Inter-Academy Council in June 2010, wrote in Nature that same year (Christy 2010), and documented in my written House Testimony last year (House Space, Science and Technology, 31 Mar 2011) the IPCC and other similar Assessments do not represent for me a consensus of much more than the consensus of those selected to agree with a particular consensus.
The content of these climate reports is actually under the control of a relatively small number of individuals - I often refer to them as the “climate establishment” – who through the years, in my opinion, came to act as gatekeepers of scientific opinion and information, rather than brokers.
The voices of those of us who object to various statements and emphases in these assessments are by-in-large dismissed rather than accommodated. This establishment includes the same individuals who become the “experts” called on to promote IPCC claims in government reports such as the endangerment finding by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Erosion of Christendom and the Predicament of Science
QUADRANT JUNE 2012
Some twenty years ago, I was a young science lecturer struggling with my first job at an institution of higher learning in Adelaide—famous of course as our "City of Churches"—a now embarrassing epithet reflecting Adelaide's one-time status as a key centre of Nonconformist Protestantism. Just returned from scientific training in the USA, I was feeling the anxiety that afflicts new academics finding themselves alone in lecture halls filled with critical, hard-to-impress late-teens: how the dickens do I hold their attention for the next forty-five minutes?
Returning to my department after a lecture one day, I mentioned my frustrations to a senior colleague. He was growing nostalgic upon nearing retirement and said something memorable that morning running along these lines: "Ah yes—things were much better in the early sixties when I started out. The little blighters used to grow up in church. They learned to sit still and pay attention to the sermon. It made our job as lecturers much easier."