My perspectives on culture, politics and contemporary life in general have been profoundly informed by the time I’ve spent in rural areas, outside of cities, which has been most of the last decade. I have been in forests and deserts, grasslands and wetlands, mountains and coastal areas. And lots and lots of agricultural zones. One thing has struck me everywhere: When it comes to environmental destruction, most city people have no idea how bad it is. It’s not their fault; they just don’t get out there, and the media doesn’t report it. But the ignorance—however unintentional—has consequences.
I took the photograph above in a three-acre clear-cut in Humboldt County. The area was razed for a Cannabis farm, and was done so in order to comply with county regulations for a legal grow op. (Yes, at least back in 2016, Humboldt County Cannabis growing regulations encouraged clear-cuts.) I knew these trees when they were standing. It was a dark, dense tangle that obviously missed the seasonal fires the Native Americans used to set in the area as part of their wildtending practices to increase acorn production. The loss of this piece of forest was a sad sad thing.
And it’s a tiny thing. For example, the BLM is currently planning to clear 7.4 million acres of ancient Pinyon-Juniper woodland to make pasture for ranchers. Trump’s plans to gut the “Roadless Rule” for Alaska’s Tongass Forest would open up its 9.3 million acres to logging. His administration would exempt 93% of Forest Service decisions from public review. These are immense tragedies, and crimes against all that is beautiful and alive.
Our whole history as nation on this continent has been all about such destruction, so everywhere you go there is tragedy, both as fresh wounds and as scars on the land. Very little has been done to protect anything; certainly not as much as people like to believe or hope.
Trump’s assault on the environment and on environmental regulation has been horrific, but it’s barely been reported in a corporate news stream focused on personalities and palace intrigue. I don’t see enough activists talking about it either. The ones who are doing so are some of my very favorite people in the world; I am brimming with admiration and love for their efforts. I have enjoyed the honor of working with some and look forward to future collaboration.
But they are too few, and their voices are faint in the electronic maelstrom.
Without even talking about climate change, the atrocities that are about to go down on public land are breathtaking in their severity and scope. The sociopathic billionaires who run this racket are apparently aiming to strip the continent clean. It’s shocking, saddening and enraging.
But almost nobody is shocked, saddened or enraged because almost nobody has actually seen these place outside of the city and its sprawl of farms. So on the few occasions when a story does slip through the media net, the viewer is not receptive to it; it’s too abstract. I am not blaming the viewer; our propaganda delivery system in the US is quite sophisticated; probably the most effective in world history. We are under constant assault here.
The fact remains, though, that environmentally, we are on the verge of losing alot. Like alot alot. Species will go extinct. Entire ecosystems will disappear.
These policies must cease as soon as possible. The environment has to be the top issue in this election; after all, every other issue ultimately depends on a liveable ecology. Within the context of this issue, there are differences among the candidates that count for something. We cannot settle on this topic; we must demand the best that can delivered.