Oregon State Legislature sent this bulletin at 08/08/2018
Finch and Fires
by Oregon State Senator Dennis
Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mocking Bird, a rabid dog growls his way
onto the street where Atticus Finch and his family live. The
entire neighborhood is watching, waiting and afraid to act. They
see the threat, yet because of their own weakness in the face of
danger, they are unwilling to respond. Most of the townsfolk in
the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, simply bolt their doors
and wait for someone else to do the dirty work. Atticus, was the
one man who was willing to exercise his own courage and prudence
by stepping up and shooting the dog.
In the story,
Lee uses the rapid dog as a symbol for a “madness” that must be
slain. What is the madness? – unconscionable community
In the novel,
community consensus had rallied against Atticus because he was a
lawyer, willing to defend a man that the town believed was
guilty. Public consensus said, “Tom Robinson was guilty,” simply
because he was a black man. In this way, the book, shows us that
overwhelming consensus means nothing if it is based on unfounded
bias and prejudice.
This same type
of dangerous consensus is what litters the field of discussion
for most environmental fads. The tragedy happening in our public
forests today follows this same vein. These vast resources are
burning-up as we watch. The paradox of forest management is that
forests are healthier when well-rounded policies regarding
harvest, thinning, and re-planting are used. Unfortunately, the
current one-size-fits-all policy implies that humans should
remove themselves from the forest because Mother Nature knows
initiatives that we see destroying our forests were created with
good intentions and sound principles. At the time, environmental
ecology was not well understood, and most regulatory attempts
were aimed at egregious mistakes. However, in an attempt to
understand how the world works and how humanity fits in, a
faulty assumption arose – “man is the problem.” This mindset
implies that man’s technological achievements are unwelcome.
This is why motorized vehicles are not allowed in Wilderness
Areas and why there is a concerted effort to remove the four
dams along the Klamath River.
reinforced this faulty worldview with his claim that humans are,
plague on the Earth.”
His faulty model dovetails with Richard Dawkins evolutionary
maxim that suggests the purpose of life is only reproduction. In
humans, this means our “selfish
are bound to mindless reproductive tendencies bursting forth
like maggots on roadside carrion.
However, a more
appropriate stewardship model would recognize that humans are
the only free, moral agents on the planet. This means only
people can use insight, judgement, wisdom and discernment to
engineer a better world for ourselves, our posterity, animals
and environment. In a word, people care.
People also have the
technical expertise to control their environment by creating,
converting and utilizing the planet’s natural resources for
energy, cell phones, and tomatoes. Quite frankly, neither the
Ocelot, Octopus, or Opossum give a rip about the plight of the
Blue Whale or Bandicoot.
generated a robust record of direct observations about the
circumstances in our natural world. However, the physical data
collection efforts don’t lead to, or create policy direction,
guidelines or programs. Those are set by non-scientific and
politically motivated actors seeking to maximize their own
environmental movement has mainly been effective by using small,
politically correct groups to commandeer the political power
stored within the walls of the over-burdening regulatory state.
When tax-payer funded bureaucracies are used to force compliance
with the latest fad then protected markets are created and
regulated, with profits for the chosen few. Their Malthusian reasoning
was simple and straight-forward; controls were needed because
too many people are consuming too many resources
that a one-size fits all, top-down policy would be the best
solution, but these regulatory efforts are typically mired in
unintended consequences and bureaucratic failure. Single-focus
strategies are problematic because they force large swaths of
the landscape to fall under one set of rules. Yet, all
landscapes are not the same. Additionally, the rules,
regulations and regimentation force millions of people to behave
like herded animals. This, in turn, strains both the market and
Economist Barry Brownstein notes,
“Politicians who trust their seat-of-the-pants good intentions
inevitably become authoritarians. They are relying on the limits
of their error-prone minds and not on proven principles that
promote human flourishing.”
Every summer it is
easy to see how many trees are being saved through the misguided
policy effort of curtailing forest production – just look
outside. You can see the saved trees going up in smoke.
Surrendering our forest policy to Nature’s whims creates
dangerous conditions where homes, forests, watersheds and
resources are squandered.
unhealthy air quality conditions impact millions of people and
entirely negates the possibility for greenhouse gas absorption.
The landscape will need at least another 30-40 years to develop
the same capacity for greenhouse gas absorption as exists today.
Today’s wildfires are
the most relevant contributor to fine particulate pollution
(PM2.5.) Since the mid-1980s, the total US area burned by
wildfires has been increasing, with fires in the Northwest
United States accounting for 50–60 percent of that increase, according
to a recent report.
In essence, the
environmental policies that were designed in an effort to
protect forests are actually responsible for destroying them.
As part of the
Oregon Legislature’s Fire Caucus, I will continue to work
towards correcting our stewardship model for proper forest
management on our public lands.
Remember, if we
don’t stand for rural Oregon values and common-sense no one
State Senate 28
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1728
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, S-305, Salem, Oregon
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