Like many Americans, I am finally crawling out from under the bed where I have been curled in fetal position ever since November 8th. It’s dark and dusty under there, the dogs need to be fed, the cats are querulous, and with temperatures now dipping below freezing, I need to get a fire started in the wood stove.
In essence, it is time to get on with life.
Above: Three USFS ecologists at Buckhorn Overlook, Wallowa County, talk about the diverse ecosystems in the Northwest.
But life is going to be different, has to be different, under a Trump administration. There is palpable, legitimate concern for civil rights, freedom of speech, for the demonization and deportation of immigrants, legal and otherwise. For women’s dignity and rights. For a slide back into the 1950s or 1850s and beyond. For the dawn of a new McCarthyism, for the erosion of democracy, for screwed up trade deals and vanishing diplomacy, and a world teetering on the brink of global divisiveness and social unrest.
These are real dangers. But in my mind they pale in comparison to the threats to ecosystems, endangered species, forest and grassland ecosystems, the newly wrought fragility of the oceans, and above all, the climate. Whether you are LGBT, Black, Latino, Muslim, or, for that matter, KKK, you cannot long survive, let alone thrive, on a planet where a new, leadership class of willful scofflaws views science with disdain. We need clean water. (Ask Detroit.) We need clean air, clean energy, and vibrant ecosystems. we were moving in that direction, albeit slowly.
But the incoming administration will happily reverse all this. They invent their own “facts.” Climate change is a hoax. We live in a “post-truth” nation. I fear that we face a Great Dismantling of public lands and ecosystem protections. Abolish the EPA. Roll back requirements for EIS , logging, and grazing plans on federal lands. In fact, why have any federal lands at all? This administration could easily buy into the false Malheur Refuge/Bundy mantra that federal lands, whether USFS, BLM, Monuments or National Parks were unjustly taken from hard-working Americans and should be returned. Who needs the tax drain of the federal bureaucracies–the BLM, the USFS? Perhaps this is extreme, but it was among my darkest fantasies while sharing space with the dust bunnies beneath the bed.
Like many people (in fact, the majority of 2016 voters) I am unsure of how to address these concerns. But it would be a mistake to simply wait and then react to whatever anti-environmental actions may be forthcoming. I hope that someone out there is planning a campaign in support of ecosystems, of salmon, rivers, pileated woodpeckers, western bumblebees, of all the furred and feathered, shelled and scaled, winged and wonderful, creatures on the planet, and especially in America. Put me in, coach.