SunSpecial: Playing God   Leave a comment

Humans have changed the world for good and bad. Not only through the construction of cities or cultivating millions of acres of cropland; by the planting of forests or paving of highways; or in digging deep into mountains for valuable minerals while at the same time protecting unique species and special places; just by living our everyday lives virtually all of us are removed from the natural world and our actions affect environmental process that for millions of years were the only agenda earth and its inhabitants had known.

But in the short time man has been on earth (if the full history of earth was viewed as a year – January through December – man didn’t show up until about ten minutes to midnight on December 31. Talk about being late to the party!), we’ve re-routed, blocked, drained and widened rivers; removed entire mountaintops and filled in valleys; created lakes where there were meadows and made deserts of what were once grasslands; and many believe brought about climate changes that could result in a disastrous future. Just because we can, does that mean we should? Is the ability to choose and fashion what we determine is best, cancel our responsibility to make choices and take actions that would benefit all, and not just us?

Due to the unprecedented drought affecting much of the western United States, farming and ranching organizations have requested the Governors of Washington, Oregon and Idaho initiate a process allowed, yet never before enacted through the Endangered Species Act – the creation of a ‘God Squad’ that will make final, and absolute decisions, about the use of land and water resources, and how that use will effect threatened and endangered species – even if that means the species could be re-located, their environments changed or destroyed, or endangered populations killed.

While the approval of any ‘God Squad’ must undergo intense research, reporting, and review, if such an act is undertaken it means a handful of people will hold the right and responsibility, with minimal or no oversight, to make decisions that could effect not only the environment but also local and regional communities, organizations, and individual citizens in the short-term and into the future. Must a river or stream be drained or diverted to provide water to farmers, even though the water might vital to the growth and development of wild salmon? Who ‘wins’, the farmers needing water, or the fish? What if wolves, not finding enough wildlife to eat, begin attacking livestock? Do we protect the wolves, or the ranchers? These could be the difficult questions a ‘God Squad’ would have to address, and determine answers that seem impossible to solve.

Even through the combined pressures of an ever-increasing human population; climate change; fewer and fewer resources; and the desire among a majority of the world’s peoples to try and conserve and protect natural environments, each of us can, every day, take positive actions and make smart choices that work toward and help create a future that benefits the whole, rather than depending upon decisions formulated by a few. Famous poet Joyce Kilmer once wrote “Only God can make a tree”; but he, nor no one else, could foresee that one day a ‘God Squad’ might determine what would happen to that tree; a whole forest; entire ecosystems; or the planet.

Sunrise, or Sunset?  It's our choice

Sunrise, or Sunset? It’s our choice

 

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