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Ecology

What is Our Land For?

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By Jill Richardson
OtherWords

Should we graze it, log it, drill it, and mine it? Or should we preserve it, study it, recreate in it, and revere it?

Mojave Trails National Monument

Mojave Trails National Monument

The Trump administration accidentally released documents showing that they intentionally underestimated the value of national monuments while emphasizing the land’s value for logging, ranching, and energy development. Oopsie.

National monuments are federally protected lands that differ from national parks in a few important ways. Whereas only Congress can create a national park, the president can create a national monument with the stroke of a pen. Many national parks were national monuments first.

The Grand Canyon is an example. You might think the Grand Canyon would be among the most obvious slam dunk places to make a national park in the United States. Alas, it wasn’t.

Private interests initially prevented Congress from creating Grand Canyon National Park. President Teddy Roosevelt protected the Grand Canyon as a national monument in 1908, and it took Congress 11 more years to make it a park.

The Antiquities Act gives the president unilateral power to create national monuments, and Trump generally loves executive power of all kinds. However, in this case, he likes using his power to shrink existing national monuments.

The Trump administration recently reduced the size of two national monuments in Utah — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Bears Ears in particular contains land sacred to Native Americans. The coal and oil industries were behind the decision to shrink the two monuments.

The newly — accidentally — released documents show that the Trump administration intentionally hid evidence that would bolster the case for leaving the monuments at their present size, such as tourism revenue and archaeological value.

At the heart of the matter, in addition to a story about a corrupt and inept government, is a conflict between Americans about the proper relationship between people and the land.

What is our land for? Should we graze it, log it, drill it, and mine it? Or should we preserve it, study it, recreate in it, and revere it?

Presumably, we need a happy medium of both.

Unless we find a way to run our economy without fossil fuels, or the entire nation goes vegan, or we stop using wood and paper, we can’t curtail all drilling, grazing, and logging. And obviously America isn’t going vegan, no matter how much certain animal rights groups think we should.

Whatever one’s opinion of extractive industries, they’re the basis for the economy and the way of life in much of the Old West. It’s a way of life that’s rugged and difficult and, increasingly, threatened by a trend of rural gentrification.

On the other hand, nature has intrinsic value. The beauty of our wild lands forms part of our identity as Americans and enhances quality of life. Intact ecosystems contribute to clean air and water, which we all need. And desecrating the sacred land of Native Americans is morally repugnant.

Additionally, tourism to national monuments pumps dollars into the economy and creates jobs.

Both land uses provide jobs and other benefits. Each is valued by a different group of people.

The Trump administration doesn’t appear interested in any sort of reasoned discussion that recognizes the merit of each side. This only serves to anger and entrench each side in the conflict instead of working toward compromise.

Perhaps someday we can find a solution that provides economic prosperity in America’s rural areas but doesn’t destroy the land in the process. Unfortunately, it won’t be while Trump’s in office.

This article is licensed by OtherWords under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative 3.0 License.

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Ecology

Globe Climate: Canada’s resource reckoning is coming

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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.

This afternoon, the Alberta government announced that it is restoring a coal mining policy it revoked last spring. At the time, the move provoked a widespread public backlash detailed by The Globe. The original decision, which opened up more than 1.4 million hectares to exploration, was made without public consultation. Premier Jason Kenney previously defended the changes.

Lots more on coal and Canada’s resources industry in this week’s newsletter edition.

Now, let’s catch you up on other news.

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Ecology

‘Incredibly destructive’: Canada’s Prairies to see devastating impact of climate change

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As the climate continues to warm at an alarming rate, experts warn if dramatic steps to mitigate global warming are not taken, the effects in Canada’s Prairie region will be devastating to the country’s agriculture sector.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the country is warming, on average, about double the global rate.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. recently found 2020 was earth’s second-hottest year on record, with the average land and ocean surface temperature across the globe at 0.98 of a degree C above the 20th-century average.

However, the agency found the northern hemisphere saw its hottest year on record, at 1.28 degrees C above the average.

“(In Canada) we are looking at about 6.4C degrees of warming this century, which isn’t much less than one degree per decade, which is just a terrifying rate of warming,” Darrin Qualman, the director of climate crisis policy and action at the National Farmer’s Union said.

Qualman said there is “massive change coming” to Canada’s Prairies, which will be “incredibly destructive.”

“It’s not going too far to say that if we made that happen, parts of the Prairies wouldn’t be farmable anymore,” he said.

According to the federal government, in 2018 Canada’s agriculture and agri-food system generated $143 billion, accounting for 7.4 per cent of the country’s GDP.

The sector employed 2.3 million people in 2018. The majority of the 64.2 million hectares of farmland in Canada is concentrated in the Prairies and in southern Ontario.

The effects of climate change are already being felt on the ground in the Prairies, Qualman said, adding that the NFU has already heard from farmers complaining of “challenging weather.”

“People are sharing pictures of flattened crops and buildings, et cetera, that have been damaged,” he said. “And we’re still at the beginning of this.”

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Ecology

Insect-based dog food aims to cut your pet’s carbon pawprint

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Meat has an enormous carbon footprint, with livestock liable for about 15 per cent of worldwide emissions, as we have beforehand mentioned on this e-newsletter. That is prompted specialists to suggest consuming much less meat for sustainability (and well being) causes.

However what about your pet? One research discovered that the methane and nitrous oxide emissions generated by canine and cat meals within the U.S. alone had been equal to about 64 million tonnes of CO2, or roughly the quantity produced by 13.6 million automobiles. And it might be getting worse, with a development towards feeding pets “human-grade” meat.

That is prompted some pet meals makers to look to lower-carbon protein sources — together with bugs.

Research present that producing insect-based meals requires far much less feed, land and water and generates far fewer greenhouse fuel emissions per kilogram than meats comparable to beef, pork or rooster.

That is one of many causes increasingly more pet meals containing insect protein are hitting the market. Purina, a model owned by multinational Nestlé, launched a line of canine and cat meals containing black soldier fly larvae in Switzerland in November.

In Canada, Montreal-based Wilder Harrier began promoting canine treats made with cricket protein in 2015 and pet food made with black soldier fly larvae in 2019. It plans to broaden to launch a line of insect-based cat treats later this yr and cat meals in 2022 due to “a ton of demand,” mentioned firm co-founder Philippe Poirier.

Wilder Harrier initially labored with animal nutritionists on insect-based merchandise to unravel a unique downside — specifically, the founders’ canines had allergy symptoms to frequent meats utilized in canine meals. Poirier mentioned now about half its prospects hunt down the product due to their pets’ allergy symptoms and about half for environmental causes.

Dr. Cailin Heinze, a U.S.-based veterinary nutritionist licensed by the American School of Veterinary Vitamin, has written concerning the environmental influence of pet meals. She mentioned we’re typically “not as involved as we probably ought to [be]” concerning the environmental footprint of pets.

Alternatively, she famous that the longer-term influence of newer diets, comparable to vegan meals and people containing bugs, hasn’t been nicely examined in comparison with conventional pet meals.

Maria Cattai de Godoy, an assistant professor of animal sciences on the College of Illinois who research novel proteins for pet meals (together with bugs, yeast and plant-based substances), mentioned such substances are rigorously examined to find out their security and diet earlier than being added to pet meals. 

“This can be a very extremely regulated trade,” she mentioned, however admitted it is also evolving.

Relating to bugs, she mentioned constructive information “reveals promise in direction of utilizing them increasingly more in pet meals.” Insect-based proteins have additionally earned the endorsement of the British Veterinary Affiliation, which says some insect-based meals could also be higher for pets than prime steak.

However Godoy famous that there isn’t any one-size-fits-all resolution, and pet homeowners ought to take into consideration the wants of their very own particular person pet and analysis whether or not a specific weight loss plan can be appropriate.

She mentioned that other than the kind of protein, issues like packaging and manufacturing strategies may also make a distinction. For instance, utilizing meat byproducts that may in any other case turn into waste would not drive elevated meat manufacturing the identical approach as utilizing human-grade meat.

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