By William Walter Kay
A few months ago HarperCollins released Eco-fascists: How Radical Conservationists Are Destroying Our Natural Heritage. The author, Elizabeth Nickson, has published numerous articles in Time, Harper’s and the Globe and Mail. She was European bureau chief for Life magazine.
While Eco-fascists has glitches and snags, its provocative title, august publisher, and its exposure of rural North America’s despoliation by pseudo-scientific green overlords, make it a breakthrough text and a must-read for enviro-sceptics.
What follows is a critical condensation of Eco-fascists.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Green Elizabeth of the Gulf Islands
Big Lie Country
Eco-fascism's Despoliation of Rural America
A Case of Incomplete De-programming
Addendum: Nickson's Error Cascade
Green Elizabeth of the Gulf Islands
From age 6 to 14 Nickson lived near a forest in rural Quebec. Her father taught her respect for rural wisdom. She went on to be a full-on urbanite and high-flying journalist for Time Inc.
In the 1990s she and “Jim” (a filmmaker), for retirement purposes, purchased a 28-acre forested lot on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Years later, on a bustling New York street, Nickson underwent an eco-epiphany beckoning her back to the forest.
She was an environmentalist. She stood on a Seattle street corner effusing like a fool to Denis Hayes (Earth Day co-founder and Bullitt Foundation executive) about the Lovinses’ new book, Natural Capitalism. She was entranced by L. Hunter Lovins’ lecture at a San Francisco eco-conference on the virtues of green building: “She turned me into a true believer within minutes…”
Salt Spring Island is an argument surrounded by water.
Nickson was mentored in Salt Spring politics by Emma – a rock star’s ex-wife whose divorce settlement left her set for life. (“Emma” is Phil Collins’ first wife, Andrea.) Emma’s mansion sits on a 200-acre lot next to a 1,000-acre mountainside park.
(Environmentalists are adept at scooping shucked celebrities’ wives off the divorce court steps.)
While the two women attended a Salt Spring Trust meeting, Emma hissed that one trustee was a “realtor.” She said the other trustee “gets it,” meaning he grasped the implicit accord among the island’s wealthier property owners about how preserving land values, political control, and tranquility required thwarting land development. The poor, especially the poorer property owners, must be restricted. The Trust is fond of suing working islanders who cannot afford to fight back.
The two women also attended a public meeting regarding the fate of a local forest. Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, upon the death of her cousin/husband, sold some forest holdings including one on Salt Spring. The purchasers intended to clear a tract and build houses.
The spirit of resistance displayed by environmentalists at this meeting exhilarated Nickson and Emma. Nickson wrote as many articles about saving this forest as the Globe and Mail would buy. Emma contributed to the campaign by producing and marketing a calendar featuring nude local women.
The island’s conservation community raised $20 million, from whom Nickson is not sure, to buy and preserve the forest.
She attended another Trust meeting where hundreds of locals debated a vacation home rental bylaw. Some islanders move into trailers during the summer so they can rent their houses to tourists. The conservation community, disdaining such practices, sponsored a bylaw capping the number of rental permits to 200 houses; limiting rental stays to 30 days; prohibiting rentals in watersheds; and restricting renting privileges to permanent residents who could provide extra parking and insurance. Poorer landowners begged for the right to rent. Personal humiliation was part of the island’s political process.
The dominant trustee was an RCMP employee with a “SLOW” sign on her table. After the crowd erupted in contempt, she closed the meeting with:
“If anyone, anyone at all rents their house before the bylaw receives final reading, the RCMP will be called.”
The debate dragged on until even more conservative trustees were elected. They tossed out the bylaw and simply sued anyone who rented their house to anyone.
Salt Spring is a 74-square mile island amidst a 400-island archipelago off the southern British Columbian coast (“Gulf Islands”). Salt Spring’s population is 10,000 during winters, 20,000 during summers.
These islands are governed by the Islands Trust (est. 1974) whose motto is “preserve and protect.” Governance is decidedly environmentalist; disturbing certain vegetation is disallowed.
The Islands Trust system was the template for the California Coastal Commission and Cape Cod Commission. This system is the future. Islands Trust propaganda is filled with references to “participatory democracy” and “community consultation” but the system is undemocratic.
The 13 large islands within the Islands Trusts’ purview are allocated two locally elected trustees each, regardless of population size. Tiny islands are attached to larger ones for administrative purposes. The 12 other large islands have populations of 400 to 1,000. Local decisions are vetted at quarterly meetings of all 26 trustees. Salt Spring has half the population but one-thirteenth of the clout.
The Islands Trust’s Victoria, BC headquarters uses its $7 million annual budget to pay 45 full-time staff and innumerable consultants to produce a flood of glossy eco-propaganda.
After a bitter fight over a sewer line in the 1970s, many residents surrendered local politics to enviro-activists who, despite appearances, were not random hippies but professionals trained in “capacity building.” American enviro-pros flocked to the islands where they now run a dozen committees, each hatching hysterical reports about ecosystem collapse.
Islands Trust land conservancies and sustainability institutes spend $9 million a year – enough money to overwhelm the islands’ permanent inhabitants. On Salt Spring alone, several land trusts and conservancies collectively spend $1 million a year on outreach, education, and land acquisition. As well, BC’s Environment Ministry funds islands-focused environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs), as do major US foundations.
The consequences of enviro-governance are glaring on Galiano Island where 100 residents are not permitted to build one house on plots as large as 160 acres unless they donate 75% of their land to a conservancy.
One morning “Jim” (age 39), while pedalling his stationary bike and hollering into his phone, suffered a stroke. Two years of rehab left him barely functioning and fully broke. He needed his money out of the Salt Spring investment. The property had tripled in value since their purchase.
The solution was to subdivide the property and buy a “density” (development permit) from another islander. Nickson’s lot was unusually large because it was a “remainder” left over from dividing a zone into 5-acre units. She was allowed only one house unless she acquired a density. The Trust agreed in density transfers in principle but not in practice. The conservation community wanted no more than the existing 3,000 houses (even though original plans contemplated 4,700 houses).
Nickson hired a $110-an-hour consultant. After giving “Brent” a cheque for $4,000, she asked how long the process should take. “Nine months minimum,” replied Brent.
Brent’s other Salt Spring client tried for a four-unit subdivision after she and her husband lost their savings in the stock market. She confronted a six-year campaign orchestrated by a charismatic environmentalist who turned her into a local pariah. The subdivision war destroyed her marriage and her health.
The charismatic environmentalist went on to a comfy job at the Western Climate Initiative. (This is a typical career progression in the environmental movement. A “kill” of a development is rewarded.) This environmentalist encountered little difficulty in dividing and selling her family’s oceanfront properties for $1 million apiece.
For five months Nickson waited for the Trust to accept her application. Her fretful calls and emails summoned Brent bearing a flow-chart outlining the process. At 13 junctures in the 53-step process her application could be terminated. She would have to pay for two $5,000 ecological assessments. She would have to endure a public information meeting and a public hearing. Her bylaw would go through four drafts before the Trust could shop her proposal to several government departments. There would be fees every step of the way. To ride out this process she took out a bank loan.
To prepare for battle she ferried to Victoria to purchase the Islands Trusts’ six basic documents – 5,000 pages in total. Another useful tome was The Conservation Manual of the Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory: East Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands.This 256-pager provides chilling directives about what each landowner must do on his/her property.
In order to avoid paying for anyone’s learning curves, she hired: a highways covenant lawyer, a density-transfer lawyer, a conservation tax exemption lawyer, a water covenant lawyer, and a lawyer to arrange the subdivision loan, which, being unchartered law, required extra documentation.
She attended meetings where she was distinctly unwelcome. She petitioned her enemies and solicited community leaders. She dragged her friends to meetings. For a month at suppertime she donned rubber boots and stomped up and down the roads around her property explaining her plight to her neighbors, one of whom told her that activists had been by to mobilize opposition to Nickson.
Nickson accelerated the process: “by obeying every green diktat and every green wish, making my subdivision conform.”
By converting much of her land into a nature preserve, she earned kudos and a tax deduction. Her eagerness to appease led her into being conned by a “water witch” who excavated an expensive salmon spawning pond on Nickson’s land. No salmon came.
The Advisory Planning Committee meeting was dominated by a forester and a marine biologist. They demanded a site visit at which they suggested Nickson lock down her creek into a conservation covenant as well. She immediately agreed, thus sacrificing a few more acres and another $5,000. She tried to impress them with her plan to build an eco-house.
Nickson’s proposal was opposed by the Neighborhood Association and the Water Preservation Society (WPS). At the community meeting, the WPS members sat in a long frowning line. Their spokeswoman was a transplant from the Los Angeles Environmental Affairs Department who attended every meeting on the island to complain about every development and demand more regulation and enforcement.
At the first meeting between Nickson’s team and the Environmental Advisory Committee, none of the 16 Committee members showed up – a standard tactic according to Brent. The actual meeting took place six weeks later. Committee leader Briony Penn (a 40-something artist, former TV host, and unsuccessful politician) was a born patrician and vigorous anti-capitalist. Every committee member had an advanced degree in some branch of the life sciences. Briony roasted Nickson over a slow fire for two hours before confessing she could not find anything wrong her proposal.
At the next crucial step she confronted the Regional Director – a stalwart shut-everything-downer. He complained Nickson would make too much money on this sale but conceded he could not find a substantive fault to her proposal. Her bylaw slid into regulation.
As she prepared for the final reading she received a final jolt of anxiety when the Trust secretary told her “complaints have been made.” Despite these complaints, the Islands Trust Chair sided with Nickson and dismissed critics by pointing out that as only one in 1,000 applications like hers got approved, rampant development had not come to Salt Spring.
Then the Regional Planner arbitrarily decided her rezoning was going too fast and must be delayed. He prevented her from listing her property during the summer selling season; causing several months delay with interest mounting. She became so emotional in her phone calls to bureaucrats in Victoria, they began putting her on hold.
Nickson halved the process time down to two years by surrendering control over 24 of her 28 acres (she pays taxes on 16.5 acres). She paid around $40,000 in fees and services. Her land title is 126 pages long.
(As an aside: Salt Spring’s conservation community uses the island’s alleged dearth of fresh water as a “limit to growth.” However Nickson’s experienced well driller told her he could find water anywhere on her property. She picked a convenient spot where he quickly drilled a 5-gallon-per-minute artesian (pump-less) gusher. The driller claimed there was enough water flowing under her property for 80 houses and enough water under Salt Spring to supply all the Gulf Islands.)
Nickson ends positively, by describing a rebellion against eco-fascism on Salt Spring.
The antagonists were Salt Spring’s new trustees - both US-born politicos. One had started an anti-ranching group in Montana before joining the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. Both sat on the boards of enviro-advocacy agencies funded by the Trust.
During their tenure, a prosperous local business, the Salt Spring Coffee Company, proposed a new roasting facility. Even though the company proffered an ultra-eco design, the trustees turned them down with one whimsically opining, “I can’t shake this feeling that this is the wrong location.”
The island erupted.
On the Fourth of July a “mob” dumped coffee into the harbour while 40 near-naked farmers rode into town. Larry Campbell, a Vancouver political celebrity, addressed the crowd. This prompted the Trust to prohibit outside politicians from addressing islanders without approval. Even the island’s slumbering middle class found this exercise of authoritarianism egregious.
Thus, when these trustees tried to impose a draconian riparian regime over 65% of the island, they met stiff opposition. The resistance movement planted 250 protest signs. (Environmentalists ripped these up.) The 600 islanders who attended a meeting opposing the riparian regulations, despite a massive police presence, became unruly with chants of “dump the trust.” The bylaw was shelved and the trustees were ousted in the next election by a two-to-one vote.
“Conservation Biology” (CB) began its reign in 1978 (at the U of Southern California). CB overwhelmed academic Biology, spawned numerous journals, and now affects land use planning almost everywhere.
CB field research consists of romping around meadows spouting Latin names for weeds. CB peer review is of the toss-it-over-the-cubicle variety.
CB is not science; its assumptions are subjective. Its main assumptions are: humans are wrecking Nature and resources are disappearing. Conservation Biologists’ main mission is public education. Despite a plethora of ruses, their remedy is always: remove people from the area.
This transformation of Biology into a religious crusade against human industry has 19th century roots in the “oneness-of-nature” pantheism of Thoreau, Rousseau, and Muir. CB’s religious essence is evident in contemporary “Gaia” worship and in the messianic complexes of aspiring wilderness defenders.
In the 1920s authoritarian visionaries at Oxford and Cambridge contended “ecological collapse” could be harnessed for political purposes.
In 1935 Oxford botanist Arthur Tansley coined the word “ecosystem” as a basic unit of Nature.
In 1946 Evelyn Hutchinson, a British zoologist at Yale, claimed ecosystems were balanced feedback loops. He further claimed ecosystems containing many diversified organisms were more durable.
By the late 1940s, as governments and universities began ladling money to ecologists, the term “ecosystem” was promoted assiduously and widely embraced.
Today every ecosystem is at risk. Every ecosystem pleads for conservationist intervention. Ecosystem rights trump human rights.
No healthy, balanced, self-regulating ecosystem has ever been found. In Nature everything changes. There is no way of freezing a landscape with all resident species preserved.
Natural change can be rapid and catastrophic. A meadow can morph into a desert or a swamp in 100 years. In German forests the numbers of lasiocampid moths can multiply 10,000-fold in two years. Over two centuries Canada’s lynx population fluctuated between 800 and 80,000.
In 1985 esteemed Princeton Biology professor, Simon Levin, confessed: “An ecosystem is often a fiction, an arbitrary restriction of spatial boundaries.”
A decade later enviro-consultant Allan Fitzsimmons went further:
“…after decades of dominance on university campuses; after thousands of books, articles, conferences and monographs; scholars cannot agree on the most fundamental matters regarding ecosystems. They do not agree on what constitutes the core characteristics of ecosystems. They cannot say where ecosystems begin or end in space or time, or tell us when one ecosystem replaces another on the landscape. They cannot agree on how to locate ecosystems.”
Analogies between an organism and a landscape are erroneous. The human body is a self-regulating “bio-system.” If the liver is removed, the body dies. However, if the buttercup is removed from the meadow, the meadow survives. Humans can decide what species to place on or to remove from a landscape.
Ecosystems are unverifiable religious constructs based on unsubstantiated hypotheses about “balance” and “biodiversity.” Self-regulating ecosystems exist only in computer models. Ecosystems form the foundation of Conservation Biology.
The conservationist campaign against forestry has closed 430 sawmills in the Western USA. Direct job losses exceed 50,000. This campaign has not just harmed the forest industry, it has turned National Forests into overstocked, pest-ridden firetraps. Unharvested trees die from root rot, windthrow, insects, or disease. They either burn or they decompose on the forest floor. Use ’em or lose ’em.
Part of the problem arises from overplanting diktats imposed on logging companies. Forests that had 65 trees per acre now have 500. This makes for spindly trees prone to disease and insect infestation. It also contributes to a dangerous fire dynamic – more fuel (wood) means bigger fires.
The forest fire dynamic is aggravated by the prevailing “natural regulation” philosophy which eschews controlled burns, cleaning-up deadfall, salvage harvesting, and tree thinning. The infatuation with roadless wilderness hampers fire-fighters’ ability to access fires.
Over 100 million acres of forest in the US West are in danger of exploding in flames. Catastrophic fires have already swept through this area and Mexico. Timber harvesting and road building do not come close to causing the amount of damage inflicted on flora and fauna by wildfire.
The natural regulation mindset also prevents the timely clear-cuts and pesticide spraying needed to stem forest-destroying insect infestations. Efforts to spray a moth infestation in Okanogan County were stymied by protracted enviro-activist litigation.
Far worse, in British Columbia 44 million acres of forest (1.3 billion cubic metres of valuable wood) have been destroyed by pine beetles. Monosodium methyl arsenate (MSMA, a mild organic pesticide) could sharply curtail this epidemic. Environment Canada, under pressure from a Sierra Club puppet group, abruptly stopped testing MSMA for the facile reason that MSMA was not as effective as advertised.
Conservation Biology “buffer science” advocates placing wide strips of land along streams off limits for human industry and livestock grazing. The efficacy of buffers is unknown and many researchers concede that buffers are unreasonably wide. Nearly all wild trees are found near some type of stream.
Forestry is bogged down in paper work. Certified foresters need several years of education. Timber harvest plans that formerly filled 30 pages now fill 250 pages. Even a 5-acre cut block must be vetted by several federal and state agents who often demand construction of bridges and culverts to allow wildlife movement. Foresters do nocturnal animal surveys.
When a local enviro-activist group learns a logging company has proposed a cut block, they immediately contact a foundation to bankroll an opposing coalition of local enviro-activists and lawyers from a major group like Earthjustice (Sierra Club’s litigating arm). Lawsuits are launched against the Forest Service et al. These lawsuits are delayed to break the logging company, which had to post a bond when the cut was proposed.
A Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) spokesperson gleefully proclaimed:
“When we stop the same timber project three or four times running, the timber planners want to tear their hair out. They feel like their careers are being mocked and destroyed – and they are... Psychological warfare is a very underappreciated aspect of environmental campaigning.
An alternative method of blocking a logging operation is simply to have a conservancy buy the forest. Regarding Washington’s Loomis Forest, Denis Hayes, boasted:
“We have raised sixteen million dollars in just a few weeks to preserve 25,000 acres of forest and not one of the donors will ever go there.”
Seven years later this forest burned.
Big forestry corporations seldom bother with National Forests anymore. They harvest private forests. Great economic opportunities are lost by neglecting the super-productive National Forests, especially in the Pacific Northwest.
Sweeping assertions about extinction invariably deploy E.O. Wilson’s famous fallacy. Wilson assumed the number of species increases as the size of the area examined increases. He then ran this equation backwards: if an area is reduced in size there must be a corresponding reduction (i.e. extinction) of species. Using this hypothesis, Wilson asserted that the global annual loss of 1% of forest habitat causes 27,000 extinctions per year.
In 2010 W. Eschenbach countered Wilson with, Where Are All the Corpses? Wilson’s equation translates into over 500,000 extinctions since 1980; however, Conservation Biologists cannot name a single species that has actually gone extinct.
Over the last 500 years:
- Of 4,428 known mammal species, 3 have gone extinct: the blue buck antelope; the Algerian gazelle, and a certain Mexican rabbit.
- Of 128 known bird extinctions, 122 were small island extinctions. Of 8,791 continental bird species, 6 have gone extinct.
- There have been zero forest extinctions.
Finally, speculations about the percentage of species at risk are inherently dubious given that estimates of the total numbers of species vary so widely – between 1.5 million and 40 million.
The US Endangered Species Act lists 1,967 species as threatened or endangered. Another 350 species may soon be listed. Anyone can petition to list a species, and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) must reply within 90 days. In the 1990s CBD sued FWS for missing the deadline on 44 California plants and won every time. CBD’s legal fees were recouped from the government.
CBD has caused the listing of hundreds of species. Between 2000 and 2009 CBD filed 409 lawsuits and 165 appeals. They recouped tens of millions of dollars in legal fees from the government. These lawsuits are often launched with tacit approval from environmentalists embedded in the federal government; it is a matter of: “our friends sue us so we can impose new regulations.”
Among Conservation Biology’s greatest hits are the spotted owl and the coho salmon.
After the 1990s spotted owl campaign shut down the most productive National Forests of the US Northwest, a Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund’s spokesperson spilled forth:
“Thank goodness the spotted owl evolved in the Northwest, for if it hadn’t, we’d have to genetically engineer it. It’s the perfect species for use as a surrogate.”
The spotted owl was “perfect” because it ranged over an extraordinarily large area. Each breeding pair allegedly needed thousands of acres of old-growth forest.
The extent of the scam can be contoured:
- The doctoral candidate whose studies formed the entire basis for the spotted owl’s endangerment listing admits to having limited knowledge of this bird.
- Despite 16 years of research, no link has been established between declining spotted owl populations and old growth harvesting. (Contrary to propaganda, nothing thrives in old growth forest; animals prefer new growth.)
- Two years after sweeping logging bans in spotted owl habitat, 11,000 spotted owls were counted. Despite this, FWS refused to de-list the species.
- The prey of the spotted owl, and spotted owls themselves, are being eaten by the larger barred owl. This owl-eat-owl dislocation has been studied for 100 years. Conservation officials quietly intervened on behalf of the spotted owl by hunting barred owls for several years before the Obama administration finally made this public policy.
Much West Coast anti-dam activism revolves around “Save the Coho” campaigns.
Coho, the “nomads of the sea,” range from Russia to San Francisco. They are not endangered.
Unlike chinook salmon, coho seldom venture more than 25 miles inland. Disappearing coho is more attributable to rights-based net fishing by Native Americans than it is to dams.
In the Klamath Basin area, natural coho runs were often as low as 500 fish. In 1895 the government built a hatchery that has since spawned millions of coho. In 1962, to compensate for the construction of the Iron Gate Dam, the US Supreme Court ordered hatcheries to produce vast amounts of fish (including 75,000 coho per year). Hatcheries truck coho above the dams. When they come back, if there are more than 75,000, they electrocute them. Nevertheless, in part to “Save the coho,” cash-strapped California is willing to spend $1 billion to remove dams in this area.
Big Lie Country
Conservationists have long coveted the Intermountain West (Montana, Colorado, Idaho, etc.) Controlling the headwaters of the American West means controlling half the continent. For these reasons, the first National Park, Yellowstone, was created in 1872. For these reasons, dozens of green foundations, think tanks, and activists set up shop in this area.
First among equals, Turner Foundation offices in Bozeman, Montana look like a giant 19th century sheriff’s office. (Ted Turner, who established his own Endangered Species Fund in 1997, is one of America’s largest landowners.)
Amory Lovins’ influential Rocky Mountain Institute sits on the edge of Windstar Land Conservancy (a 1,000-acre gift from John Denver) near Aspen, Colorado where many affluent newcomers have embraced the Hollywoodized cowboy aesthetic by building Nouveau West mansions – local stone, timber beams, etc.
The prime mover of the cowboy country makeover, Robert Redford, dragged his fan base into the rustic religion. A catalogue published by his Sundance Conglomerate offers a “modern take on the rustic style” by marketing rusticated clothing and tableware.
Redford has “faith in the American people, if you get to them and tell them the right story.”
Redford’s passion for low-carbon lifestyles does not prevent him from doing ads for United Airlines. He opposes Pacific Union College’s “eco-village” near his Napa Valley vineyard, but he has no qualms about selling developable lots on his Sundance Preserve – at $2 million a pop.
Another pseudo prairie homesteader, Carole King, advocates for the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Preserve by adulating large charismatic mammals. Her 128-acre boutique ranch and 7,500 square foot house are worth $12 million.
To banish real cowboys from the range, Jon Marvel’s Idaho-based Western Watersheds Projects has filed 91 lawsuits and 31 appeals against government agencies. (Marvel’s grandfather and father were Delaware lawyers; the former was head of the American Bar Association; the latter was US Ambassador to Denmark.)
Due to Marvel’s brand of activism, ranching has largely collapsed as a secure way to make money across the West. Since 1978 one million ranches have been excised from the range. Wholesale wrecking of ranching began mid-1980s after environmentalists infiltrated federal land and wildlife agencies and the movement began deploying slogans like “Nary a moo by ’92” and “Cattle free by 1993.”
Public grazing lands are now policed like a neofascist state. Conservation officers appear on the range, rulers in hand, to measure the grass. If the blades are deemed too short, all livestock are ordered off. Ranchers are often denied the use of mechanized equipment on public lands. In California, after dead coho fingerlings were found on grazing land, a rancher and some of his relatives were handcuffed and read their rights by armed conservation officers.
Environmentalists fight to protect Juniper (a twisty shrub that can take over a pasture in a few years) and gophers (massively destructive rodents) neither of which is conceivably endangered.
Re-introduced predators wreak havoc. One ranch suffered a 50% drop in livestock reproduction due to a re-introduced wolf pack’s eating of calves and terrorizing cows. After driving this ranch out of business the wolf pack moved onto neighboring ranches.
The ecological consequences of removing cattle from the range are controversial. One study compared grazed land to protected land over a 50 year period and found they had identical plant communities. Others contend grazed land is healthier because cloven-hooved animals break up the earth, thereby helping vegetation to root and increasing the soil’s nutrient content. As well, ranchers used to pump water into ponds for livestock (and wildlife). This is forbidden on “wilderness.”
By the most important measure of desertification, the amount of bare soil between plants, millions of acres of former rangeland are turning into desert.
While Colorado still has thousands of ranches, this number is steadily dropping as more land is “saved.” In 1950 Colorado had 53 land trusts, now it has 1,667. In 1980 Colorado had 128 conservation easements, now there are over 6,200. In Denver, The Nature Conservancy’s agents treat state legislators to lunch every day of the week.
Conservation initiatives around Colorado’s Comanche National Grassland have taken new twists. Nearby Fort Carson originally consisted of 285,000 acres. The US Army wants another 2.3 million acres allegedly for desert war games. The acquired land will be supervised by The Nature Conservancy (TNC). The lands match exactly the areas sought after by The Wildlands Project. A 2005 White House conference outlined an Army/TNC accord.
A quarter million acres of Colorado went dry after the water formerly supplying this area was redirected to South Dakota to create a migratory stopover for whooping cranes.
Across the western plains, lack of fresh water is cited as the main “limit to growth.” However, experts point to veritable oceans in the alluvial reservoirs of the Platte Rivers in Colorado and Wyoming. There is more than enough water. Nevertheless, the federal government is increasingly parsimonious with water and will become more so. In 2011 President Obama declared: “Water is not a right, it’s a privilege.”
Eco-fascism's Despoliation of Rural America
In one rural area after another, the imposition of eco-fascist governance has meant bankruptcy, crime, poverty, and hunger.
New York State pioneered rural property rights attenuation. The contemporary trailblazers are New York’s Natural Heritage Program and Department of Environmental Conservation. These agencies are aided by The Nature Conservancy and 93 lesser land trusts who have a professed collective mission of turning 40% of their state into “wilderness.”
As Adirondack Park (est. 1892) grew from 2.6 million acres to 6.1 million acres, it engulfed 103 small towns whose 130,000 residents still live on private property. According to plan, only three of these towns have cell phone coverage, none have cable.
These towns were promised “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILOT) to compensate them for the shrinking tax bases which accompany conservation programs. PILOT promises are seldom kept. Promised tourism revenues also never materialized. Local governments are broke.
Abandoned towns quickly have their roads blocked with boulders and their culverts dug up. Gravesites are inaccessible. No one complains when white people’s burial grounds are desecrated.
TNC dispatched Graham Chisholm (an expert on the German Greens) to Lahontan Valley, Nevada. Locals were thrilled to have an educated, well-connected kid move in. Chisholm joined the Ag Center, the melon festival, and the county fair.
Chisholm claimed TNC merely wanted to restore a 25,000-acre wetland. Marginal lands, usually just their water rights, would have to be acquired. The irrigation district chairman was the first to sell out. Ultimately many residents had no choice but to sell after everything around them, including irrigation ditches, were taken over.
No one was aware Chisholm was operating pursuant to a plan hatched by TNC and the Fish and Wildlife Service to gobble up lands and transfer them to the Federal Government. Chisholm left behind a valley of dust, tumbleweed, and abandoned houses. He was promoted to TNC’s wealthiest chapter, California, and now heads Audubon California.
The counties on California’s side of Klamath Basin are engulfed by forests. However, of 101 million acres of timber, only 7.5 million remain open to logging. Where once there were 22 sawmills, now there are two. The timber harvest fell 90% since 1978. Unemployment is 25%.
After killing the forest industry, eco-fascists went after the region’s irrigation-dependent agriculture by agitating for dam removal. The counties affected by the dam removals produce billions of dollars’ worth of food. The dams provide power for 70,000 customers. This water rights removal operation is a test case for programs planned elsewhere.
Three of four Indian tribes in the region support dam removals. If successful, they will get $87 million and tens of thousands of acres.
Suckerfish are disgusting bait fish. Authorities used to poison Klamath Lake to get rid of them. Nevertheless, local tribes claim suckerfish have cultural values and that required improvements to the irrigation system will harm suckerfish.
Before its forests were “saved,” the main Klamath-area county, Siskiyou, was one of America’s richest rural counties. Now it is in a deep depression.
In 2000 three young men moved into Siskiyou County to assume control of the local branches of American Rivers, Cal Trout, Trout Unlimited, Klamath Water Users, a fisherman’s association, and a soon-to-be very environmentalist Indian tribe.
The three men prepped Siskiyou County for the removal of four dams owned by Warren Buffet’s PacifiCorp. Buffet will receive compensation. Each dam has a reservoir used by ranchers and farmers. Compensation for them is uncertain.
The local group opposing dam removals has an annual budget of $25,000. On the other side, Klamath-Siskiyou Wild, one of a dozen ENGOs involved, has an annual budget of $500,000
80% of Siskiyou County residents voted against dam removal. Every commissioner, fire district and school board opposes dam removal. Sheriffs lead the opposition.
Locals are flummoxed because state legislators come, espouse sympathy, but then return to Sacramento to vote in lock step with Sierra Club.
A gathering of dam removal opponents elicited an intimidating state police response – snipers, riot squad, etc.
Once prosperous and independent, California’s Del Norte County is now welfare land. 23% of households live below the poverty line.
Del Norte is “the gateway to Redwood National Park,” but despite hype from National Geographic and Forbes, tourism is 5% of what the Sierra Club and Forest Service promised locals it would be when the park was created. 90% of the park is inaccessible to typical tourists. 90% of tourists do not get out of their cars. Half-empty hotels loiter in a desolate landscape.
When the 132,000-acre Redwood National Park was established in 1968, Del Norte experienced direct job losses totalling 2,757. Park expansions in 1978 cost another 4,218 jobs. A 25,000 acre expansion in 1990 caused another 900 job losses. Loggers beg for work clearing bush.
The forecast cost of the park in 1968 was under $92 million. By 1995 $1 billion had been spent.
With only 22% of Del Norte left in private hands, property tax revenues have collapsed.
Del Norte’s main business these days is implementing a bewildering array of environmental regulations. Nineteen government agencies with green mandates control every aspect of life.
Tellingly, the education rate went up. 33% of the County is employed by these 19 agencies. These well-credentialed commissars receive half the County’s income. The rest of the working population scratch by on subsistence wages in thrall to their green overlords. Locals used to supplement their incomes with hunting and fishing; activities their green overlords now prohibit.
The California Coastal Commission (CCC) houses the main overlords. CCC forbids vacation rentals and time-shares and is trying to forbid anyone from staying in a hotel longer than 30 days. Many residents paid property taxes on a vacant 1,500 unit subdivision from 1964 to 2000 when CCC declared it off-limits. CCC closed Del Norte’s state-of-the-art triple-lined landfill. Airport changes demanded by CCC (to save a few common-as-mud spruce trees) force passengers to walk 200 yards to get to their planes. CCC opposes: RV parks, hiking trails, parking lots, and yurts.
Formerly prosperous logging, ranching, and mining-based Ferry County, Washington is the poorest rural county in the state. Its main businesses are U-Haul franchises and storage lockers. School enrollment is down 50%. Ferry County used to harvest 100 million board-feet a year; now it harvests 1 million. Its railroad was sold for scrap.
As forestry was phased out, locals were assured Ferry County would become a tourism magnet and retirement haven – neither happened.
County conservation authorities’ list of “species of interest” includes 29 species that never inhabited Ferry County. This list was drafted by the IUCN.
After popular resistance from Ferry County and neighboring counties defeated Washington State’s ultra-green ‘Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project,’ Seattle elites repackaged the program as ‘Western Growth Management’ to implement the same agenda piecemeal. Hence, Ferry County residents contend with 48 separate restoration, conservation, and wildlife programs and nine state agencies perpetually buying more land to conserve.
In 2000 a local Indian woman published a book chronicling how environmentalists divided her reservation by paying select Indians to support the movement’s plans for Ferry County. Because her reservation contains many mixed-ancestry residents, the environmentalists’ program tore the community apart. She received death threats for writing the book.
Outspoken Washington State representative and Ferry County rancher Joel Kretz relays several anecdotes about life under eco-fascism.
After Kretz notified authorities he intended to log part of his land, a Department of Natural Resources bureaucrat told him “as part of your privilege of being able to harvest your timber” Kretz would have to build culverts for salmon passage. After Kretz explained salmon would have to leap the Grand Coulee Dam to get to his land, the authorities said the culverts were for bull trout. When he complained about this duplicity, a Fish and Wildlife Service bureaucrat scolded: “You’ve made a lot of money off this land. It’s time you gave back to the environment.”
Kretz estimates cougars (darlings of the conservationists) have killed 20 of his colts. Kretz waxes:
“Right now, if there was a lion on that deck, I couldn’t shoot it. So if a big cat is on my horse, I’m supposed to call Fish and Game. Which is a good hour’s drive from here. They issue pamphlets: Living with Cougar. Apparently you’re supposed to put your hands up in the air and look big. Are you kidding me?”
Due to his anti-environmentalist activism, his wife’s favourite horse was shot between the eyes. The perpetrator hiked three miles and climbed two locked gates.
Freemont County, Wyoming is sustained by ranching, farming, mining, and natural gas.
At a recent Freemont County commissioners’ meeting, bureaucrats from several federal and state conservation agencies put on a well-rehearsed song and dance choreographed by a Wilderness Society representative. The crisis du jour was the disappearing sage grouse.
One commissioner complained: “Wyoming is nothing but sagebrush and sage grouse.”
The ensemble threatened that unless Freemont County curtailed economic activity, the sage grouse might get listed as endangered, which would doom all Wyoming. Freemont had to take one for the team. They proposed prohibiting all mining and all oil, gas, and water drilling in the County.
After the meeting, the Wyoming Fish and Game rep conceded sage grouse were thriving even around mining tailing ponds. Others noted sage grouse were being devoured by re-introduced wolves and coyotes.
TNC bought the 70-square-mile Grey Ranch in New Mexico’s ‘boot heel’ to form the core of their 500-square-mile Sky Land Alliance project. TNC sold Grey Ranch to the Busch Hadley family (Budweiser’s owners) who informed county tax assessors that their non-profit status would be invoked if the land was re-assessed upward. After TNC moved into the boot heel, the area’s economy shrank by 33%. Cattle ranching is down 90%.
On Sky Alliance lands, US Border Patrol agents cannot use motor vehicles without permission, effectively leaving 4.3 million acres of border lands unpatrolled.
Wildlife from Sky Land Alliance lands prey upon livestock from neighboring ranches.
Jaguars are being introduced to Sky Land (a “Pleistocene re-wilding”). The nearest wild Jaguars, 120 miles south, are escaped circus animals. Unique among felines, Jaguars love swimming and fishing. The dry climes of southern New Mexico will be a living hell for these cats.
Atop international environmentalism’s pyramid sits the European Union (EU), United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The European Union gives $260 million a year to environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs). This figure does not count grants to ENGOs from Europe’s national governments or from European foundations.
The United Nations is an unelected, unaccountable entity exempt from legal liability. Its primary enviro-agency, UNEP, has an annual budget of $250 million.
UN-affiliated IUCN spends $150 million a year disseminating “biodiversity collapse” hysteria. IUCN forms the hub of an integrated network of 850 ENGOs.
Other UN agencies assisting environmentalism include: International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Global Environmental Facility (GEF).
From its Bonn headquarters the ICLEI issues directives to the municipalities around the world (including 600 in the US) that seek to conform to the ICLEI’s version of sustainable planning.
UNESCO was co-founded by Julian Huxley in 1945. (He later co-founded the WWF in 1961.) A UNESCO satellite, Institute for Global Communications, coordinates the UN’s far-flung media operations.
In 2010 IUCN issued a report claiming one-third of Earth’s species were going extinct. UNESCO saw to it that 10,000 near-identical stories appeared in media around the world including in the Toronto Globe and Mail wherein a distinguished former editor relayed an indistinguishable green horror story.
In 2004 GEF lavished sufficient money on the Thai government to facilitate the setting aside of three forest reserves. (Thailand recently created 114 parks.)
Key to international environmentalism’s Third World operations are the multinational banks that engage in “debt-for-nature” swaps whereby cash-strapped states are given debt relief in exchange for transferring land to conservation agencies.
By 2010 the world’s 108,000 nature parks covered 11.75 million square miles (an area larger than Africa). 14 million people have been evicted from their lands to make way for nature parks.
After the UN’s overreaching Biodiversity Treaty was rejected unanimously by the US Senate in 1995, efforts began to impose this scheme onto America in a piecemeal fashion. This is an example of a movement modus operandi whereby humongous wilderness wish lists are quietly unveiled, and then thousands of local ENGOs set about assembling them like jigsaw puzzles – one little triumph at a time. Examples of such mega-park plans are: Yukon to Yellowstone, Algonquin to Adirondack, Baja to Bering, The Wildlands Project, and Northern Rockies Ecosystem. Each is a multi-million-acre trans-continental international concept supported by a large coalition of ENGOs.
The creation of conservation areas by presidential “national monument” declarations constitutes clear examples of eco-fascism. Presently, 60 national monument designations await Obama’s signature.
International environmentalism’s massive lobbying operation in Washington, DC has borne fruit:
- US federal and state governments spend $45 billion a year on environmental cleanup, sustainable practices, and conserving land.
- The Environmental Protection Agency grants $400 million a year to ENGOs.
- The Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Interior are riddled with enviro-activists.
- Major ENGOs are staffed by former employees of these federal agencies.
- 700 million acres (30% of the US land base) is under no-use or limited-use restrictions. The Bureau of Land Management alone controls 264 million acres.
- 925 significant dams have been breached.
- The Obama administration gave $78 billion in green loans and subsidies.
Of the thousands of ENGOs in the USA, the largest and most effective is The Nature Conservancy (TNC).
TNC’s 3,200 employees are spread across 500 offices in North America and 30 more overseas. From 2000 to 2008 TNC spent $7.7 billion conserving 100 million acres.
TNC claims to have surveyed one-third of the planet, recording exact locations of eagle nests and endangered plants. Poorer countries rely wholly on TNC data. In reality, most TNC mapping is desk-topped. TNC’s actual fieldwork consists of undergrads thrashing through the bush trying to get their bearings.
TNC’s nubes are also dispatched to rural areas in pursuit of “assets” – coveted stretches of river, wetlands, or forested valleys. They are ordered to join local clubs, volunteer, be a neighbour, and play with local kids while they hatch their activist plots.
TNC has corralled numerous celebrities (Paul Newman, Diane Sawyer, David Letterman, Peter Jennings, Charlie Rose, etc.).
A pillar of the establishment, TNC draws support from Rockefellers and Du Ponts. Former US Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson was TNC Chairman for over a decade.
TNC cooperates closely with PG&E, Dow, GM, BP, Exxon, and similar corporations that environmentalists vilify as polluters. 1,900 corporations pay $25,000 a year to attend TNC conferences. In a single year, corporations whose principals sat on TNC’s board donated $225 million to TNC.
TNC has sophisticated relationships with numerous government agencies. Between 2002 and 2008, TNC received $590 million in government grants.
A 2005 Senate investigation confirmed TNC engages in dodgy transactions whereby wealthy insiders receive large tax deductions and/or the privilege of building Gatsbyesque homes inside nature preserves. One TNC trustee’s daughter built a six-bedroom house and 20-stall horse barn on her TNC preserve. When tax assessors valued her property at $146,000, she laughed out loud.
A Case of Incomplete De-programming
Eco-fascists crackles with the static of cognitive dissonance. A book aimed at disparaging environmentalism is written by an author who self-describes as:
“I need green as I need air and water; I wilt when away from a forest and fields, as if part of me goes into eclipse.”
“I walk the green walk more than anyone I’ve met. I live on sixteen acres of field and forest and creek. More than half my land – an older growth forest and magnificent ravine – is locked down in a perpetual “no-touch” covenant. I have a salmon enhancing project at the intersection of my two creeks. I am restoring two meadows…”
The latter passage conflicts with her testimony about how the conservation of her property was done under duress to appease Salt Spring’s eco-fascists.
Her Salt Spring dream home is a geothermal, carbon-neutral affair with hand-rammed earth walls. Yet she doubts the veracity of the global warming theory that makes “carbon neutral” virtuous. Then again, she believes removing cattle from the range aggravates global warming.
Nickson remains protective of the “science” of Ecology even as she connects it to fascism and does not disconnect it from Conservation Biology, which she roundly trashes.
The book’s long title is Eco-fascists, How Radical Conservationists Are Destroying Our Natural Heritage. The concept “natural heritage” amounts to “ecosystem preservation” – something the book debunks.
A passage about toxic sludge buildup behind dams degenerates into woeful junk science of the classic environmentalist genre.
Equally dubious is a passage on wetlands:
“A wetland is a holy thing, and wetlands have haunted the national discourse for decades… What many people do not realize is that wetlands are nature’s state-of-the-art filters, its best mechanism for removing toxins and impurities, whether made by nature or man.”
Thus, according to Nickson, pure H20 from raindrops, snowflakes, and melting glaciers enters swamps where – by mingling with microbe-infested excrement, rotting corpses, and decomposing flora – it is cleansed. Nickson may soon appear on late-night TV selling moose-turd water filters.
More worrisome, Nickson praises enviro-campaigns indistinguishable from the campaigns she devotes most of her book attacking. For example, she deems the stopping of the Trans-Texas Corridor a victory for the glorious “county rights” movement.
(The gospel of the “county rights” movement is the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. The Act’s county consultation provisions were inserted to facilitate local ENGO input.)
The Trans-Texas Corridor was a Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) proposal to build an 1,800-mile super freeway from a Mexican port to Kansas City. Opponents subscribed to a screwball conspiracy theory wherein the Corridor would allow sinister Chinese companies to bypass US Customs.
The “masterful campaign” against the Corridor was initiated by “the usual environmental groups inveighing against the loss of habitat.” However, many big ENGOs dropped out after negotiating a deal to conserve three acres elsewhere in Texas for every one paved by the Corridor.
Thereafter the anti-Corridor campaign fell to a coalition of lesser ENGOs and concerned citizens, mainly wealthy ranchers, who carried on the usual ENGO tactics of letter-writing blitzes, phone tree manipulations, and lobbying whilst soliciting media attention with every sally. They dragged TXDOT through tortuous environmental assessments, causing as many delays as possible. Key to their success was the recruitment of the EPA and Texas Parks and Wildlife. The anti-Corridor milieu sound remarkably similar to the Keystone XL pipeline opponents (a topic about which Nickson is thunderously silent).
Similarly, Nickson praises Seattle area eco-activists who busy themselves launching lawsuits against municipalities for running storm water (i.e. rain) into holy wetlands.
Nickson titled her book Eco-fascists but Red-baits environmentalists dozens of times. She conjures Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Lysenko, Fabians, apparatchiks terrorizing kulaks, and Commie Chinese re-education camps. Fascism is not defined, nor is it indexed, nor does Nickson leave any indication she understands this political tendency.
She thinks environmentalism is a grand idea corrupted by fanatics; specifically:
“…when the Iron Curtain fell, fellow travellers migrated to the environmental movement. And when they arrived to transform the rural world – a world few of us visit except on vacation, when no one is paying attention – they brought their planning with them.”
In other words, after 1990 Bolsheviks like Ted Turner, Teresa Heinz, and Prince Charles infiltrated a hitherto benevolent environmental movement.
Incomprehensibly, the same book also claims:
- Environmentalism is a monolith of money and power; it is the world’s largest private fortunes hiring the biggest marketing firms to produce innumerable books, movies, documentaries, cartoons, newspapers, and magazines.
- Environmentalism is a movement of “stinking rich private foundations” (Pew, Rockefeller, Heinz, Hewlett, and Moore) who give billions of dollars to ENGOs.
- Saving land from industrial predation is a prime social marker among the super-rich.
Nickson is convinced the environmental movement is hell bent on “abolishing private ownership of land.” She then describes a movement led by landowners and never addresses the contradiction.
She might have taken the lead from her own quote from the 1976 UN Conference on Human Settlements:
“Land … cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market.”
Protecting land from the vagaries of capitalism benefits landowners by limiting the supply of land. This program was a staple of fascism and is not at all the same as “abolishing private ownership of land.”
Proceeding further, Nickson claims:
“The Gordian knot of the countryside mess can be solved with one swift blow of the sword. Property rights must be restored to the individuals who are willing to work their lives away tending to that land.”
Yet the “countryside mess” she chronicles results from ranchers and loggers being denied access to public lands.Eulogies to private property are off topic.
Part of the blame for Nickson’s befuddlement falls upon Alston Chase, the expert on environmentalist intellectual history who: “changed everything I [Nickson] thought about the natural world.”
Chase thinks the ramblings of Philosophy Profs are the mainspring of social change. His eccentric admixture of isms blend fascism and communism into a potion called totalitarianism which predictably disappears into that signature black box of pseudo-intellectualism – Hegel.
About his own intellectual history, Chase confides:
“I have a much darker view of the environmental movement now than I ever have – it’s been a case of successive epiphanies, the scales successively peeled from my eyes.”
Chase, like Nickson, is a not-yet-fully-de-programmed enviro-cult inductee.
Addendum: Nickson's Error Cascade
In her first paragraph Nickson boasts: “I am very fond of numbers” (p. ix)
In her final sentence she expresses deep appreciation: “for the rigorous vetting the HarperCollins team gave this fact-and-number-rich book.”(p. 322)
Her fondness for numbers extends to numbers at odds with real world measurements.
HarperCollins should rigorously vet their fact checkers.
The following cascade of errors is not an exhaustive list:
“In the United States, urban areas take up 2.6 percent of the landmass. Including agricultural and rural development raises that figure to 5.6 percent of the land base in use…”(p. 96)
“…despite restricting development to 3% of the American continent.” (p. 200)
These figures imply the developed agricultural area of the USA is equal to or less than 3% of the total landmass of the USA.
Most USA government agencies estimate the USA’s permanent cropland/pastureland to cover around 42% of the USA’s landmass.
“Ten percent (more than a million acres) of New York State is classed as wilderness, and another 20% (more than 2 million acres) is classified as forest preserve…” (p. 41)
These figures imply New York State has a landmass slightly larger than 10 million acres.
New York State’s landmass is 34.9 million acres.
“…the Indiana office of the Bureau of Land Management that states the goal is to acquire another two hundred thirteen million acres, and they have a billion dollars to pay for it.” (p. 318)
This statement is ambiguous but clearly in error. 213 million acres is nine times the size of Indiana.
213 million acres for $1 billion comes to $4.69 an acre – a bargain.
“In Canada’s boreal forest, an area twice the size of Germany, multinational forestry firms work with multinational ENGOs to determine the use of Canada’s natural resources.” (p. 275)
Canada’s boreal forest covers 3 million square kilometres. Germany covers 357,000 square kilometres. The forest is eight times, not twice, the size of Germany.
“From 1965 to 2002, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LCWF), a leading source of funds for land acquisition, provided $12.5 billion for acquisition… About $10.3 billion in maintenance was spent by LCWF in 2002 alone.” (p. 132, emphasis added)
In 1965 Congress was empowered to redirect a maximum of $900 million a year of offshore oil and gas royalties to the LCWF. This maximum was achieved once. Recent appropriations have been as low as $100 million. According to the Forest Service cumulative LCWF appropriations over the Fund’s 47 year history have been $7 billion!
“Budd-Falen first counted the amounts awarded ENGOs under the Judgment Fund, a line-item appropriation used for Endangered Species and Clean Water act cases. In attorney’s fees alone, the Judgment Fund paid over $4.7 billion from 2003 to 2007 to various environmental groups.” (p. 207)
This presumably came from a 15 September 2009 memo from US lawyer Karen Budd-Falen titled Re: Environmental Litigation Gravy Train. This memo reads:
“The Judgment Fund is a Congressional line-item appropriation and is used for Endangered Species Act cases, Clean Water Act cases, and with other statutes directly allowing a plaintiff to recover attorney fees.” (emphasis added)
The memo estimates the TOTAL amount disbursed by the Judgment Fund for the five years, 2003 through 2007, was $4,716,264,730. Firstly, this figure relates to ALL lawsuits against the US Federal Government NOT merely ones regarding environmental issues. Secondly, this figure relates to TOTAL payouts made to resolve claims, NOT “attorney fees alone.” Hence, Nickson overstates the amount of money moving from the Judgment Fund to ENGOs probably by a factor of 50 to 100.
“If you take away anything, take away this: the dominant environmental aggressor in Canada’s oil sands is the Pew Foundation. But Pew’s grandfather, its original funder and creator, Sun Oil, now split off and named Suncor, is a prime extractor in the oil sands. This is not merely irony, say critics on the environmental left, pointing out that seven of the twelve board members of the Pew Charitable Trusts are either family members and heirs to the Sun Oil fortune or a former CEO. While no one is charging coordination between Suncor and Pew, Pew’s activities increase regulatory costs in the oil sands, thereby shutting out smaller competitors.” (p. 5, emphasis added)
“In the Alberta oil sands, North America’s windfall cache of oil, the Pew Foundation, founded on the oil sands prime move [sic], Sun Oil’s profits, lobbies ceaselessly for regulations that end by constricting smaller operators while leaving the larger ones, including Sunoco, more powerful.” (p. 276)
There are so many things wrong with these assertions it is difficult to be concise; here goes:
- There is no “Pew Foundation.”
- Sunoco (formerly Sun Oil) entirely divested itself of Suncor shares 17 years ago.
- Sunoco’s 4,900 gas stations are mainly located along the US East Coast and are supplied by refineries, in turn mainly supplied from overseas. Sunoco has no stake in the oil sands!
- Her first statement claims “no one is charging coordination” but that is what her second statement does.
- Pew Charitable Trusts’ enviro-activism undermines all oil sands producers, Suncor included.
- The phrase “environmental aggressor” is ambiguous.
“The first was the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was the bed from which global warming fever rose.” (p. 272)
“Global warming fever” did not arise from the UNFCCC. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dates to the 1992 Rio Summit. The UN’s main global warming propaganda organ, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was launched in 1988 after years of feverish global warming hype.
“As of September 2011, the Ted (Turner) had received $4.7 billion in loan guarantees for his First Solar investment project…” (p. 121)
Turner is a minor shareholder, and sometime customer, of First Solar – not its owner.
“Cintra is owned by the Spanish royal family…” (p. 277)
Cintra S.A. is 100% owned by Ferrovial Group, a publically traded conglomerate half owned by its founders, the Del Pino family. The highest estimate of the Spanish royal family’s worth is $2.3 billion. In the improbable event this fortune is all Ferrovial shares, it would still be a minority stake. There is no freely available evidence indicating they own any Ferrovial shares.
“Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, floats football-field size bladders out on Lake Huron to gather its water and has managed to lower the level of that lake by twelve feet.” (p. 316)
The US Army Corps of Engineers’ Monthly Bulletin of Great Lakes Water Levels treats Lakes Michigan and Huron as one lake because they are connected by a deep, wide strait and thus rise and lower together.
Since 1918 Lake Michigan-Huron’s water levels have fluctuated by five feet. Current levels are one foot below average.
Many operations draw water from Lake Michigan-Huron, not just Nestlé’s bottling plant.
The lake(s) span 117,000 square kilometres. Lowering that by 12 feet would fill a lot of Perrier bottles.
“Country people believe that Russian cadaver wolves, weighing almost 300 pounds, trained to clean up battlefields of the dead and dying, have been introduced into conserved forests and wilderness.” (p.2)
“And if the movement, despairing of pure wolf stock in North America, is indeed bringing in Russian cadaver wolves with an average weight of 250 pounds and a taste for human flesh, who among us is going to leave a paved road in the backcountry.” (p. 183)
She left out the part where these beasts are dropped off by black helicopters flown by sasquatches.
Cadaver dogs are trained to find corpses, not eat them. The largest wolves ever killed weighed between 170 and 190 pounds. Certain mastiffs and Saint Bernards can weigh over 200 pounds but dogs weighing 300 pounds make it into the Guinness World Book of Records.
A sin of omission appears in the re-telling of the Salt Spring rebellion that Nickson asserts began after the island’s trustees ran afoul the Salt Spring Coffee Company.
She neglects to mention this company is a venture funded by Carol Newell’s Renewal conglomerate. Newell, an heiress of the Rubbermaid fortune, is a Field Marshall in British Columbia’s enviro-milieu. The rebellion was an intra-movement fracas.
She quotes Ron Arnold to the effect that the USA has 25,000 professional enviro-activists (excluding government employees). She elsewhere claims the USA has 26,500 ENGOs, the largest fifty of whom collectively spend $5 billion a year and with the largest one (TNC) having 3,200 employees.
Nickson quotes with approval Alston Chase’s assertion: “Anyone who lives in the country knows it is not dying.” She later concludes 90% of North American grasslands are indeed dying.
Assembling a chronology of the environmental movement’s history from this text is like pulling apart a pile-up on the Texas Interstate. She variably dates the movement’s rise to power (and/or its moment of internal corruption) to the 1920s, the late 1940s, the 1960s, 1987, and the early 1990s. One notable calamity is her selection of 1992 as the year when American philanthropic foundations became “prescriptive” (i.e. direction-giving) toward ENGOs.
Like a backwoods conspiracy-monger, Nickson brandishes “Agenda 21” at least 16 times. She does this even though she is aware Agenda 21 is just another piece of “mealy-mouthed platitudinous crapola” from the UN in the manner of: Our Common Future (1987), Conserving the World’s Biological Diversity (1990), Caring for the Earth (1991), and Global Biodiversity Strategy (1992).Moreover, she is aware the whole environmental labyrinthine is structured to ensure eternal revision of turgid documents like Agenda 21.
This obsession enviro-critics have with Agenda 21 is getting embarrassing.
Except for the corrective comments in the Addendum, all important facts and original phrases in this posting are from:
Nickson, Elizabeth. Eco-fascists: How Radical Conservationists Are Destroying Our Natural Heritage. New York, Broadside Books (HarperCollins), 2012.