Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Overheated Discussion

A perfect example, in this story from the San Francisco Chronicle, of the over-the-top discussion about an issue no one really knows much about—why are there fewer salmon in some years than others—also reflected in the discussion on global warming revealed through the lens of Climategate, indicates why the era of environmentalism as an intelligent driver of public policy is coming to an end.

Much good has been accomplished, no one doubts, but the desperation of the rear guard can undo much of the good will established by the truly good work of the past.

Underneath this type of thinking—that nature is more important than humans—is the ideology of deep ecology, also slowly losing its ability to influence thought leaders.

An excerpt from the Chronicle article.

“California is at war with its native salmon. Historically, hundreds of thousands - some estimate millions - of salmon migrated through the San Francisco Bay to Central Valley streams to spawn. The era of big dams changed things dramatically, but even 30 years ago California had enough salmon to support major fishing fleets.

“Since the 1960s, however, salmon populations have declined dramatically, resulting in listings under federal and state endangered species laws. In the almost two decades since the endangered listing, the situation has only worsened. In the past five years, this decline has become a free fall. Unless we change course, salmon runs face the very real prospect of extinction and California faces a possible permanent loss of our salmon fishery.

“Why? There is no single answer, but at the heart of the issue is that, since salmon were listed as an endangered species, the state and federal water projects have substantially increased the amount of water pumped out of the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta estuary. In short, we have not managed our water system to account for the basic needs of salmon.”