Tell Congress: Vote No on Clovis for USDA Chief Scientist

Sam Clovis, Trump’s choice for USDA chief scientist.

GR: The USDA Chief Scientist must be a scientist. The USDA evaluates the safety of outdoor activities including farming, logging, ecosystem protection, herbicide use for weed control, and many more. The person in charge of the evaluations must understand the methods used for measurement and analysis and must understand the certainty or lack of certainty of the results. Sam Clovis has no experience in scientific methods. Trump selected his other appointees based on political connections and not qualifications. Clovis may be the worst of the worst. The Union of Concerned Scientists has given us some information to use in protest of Clovis’ appointment.

“President Trump has nominated Sam Clovis—a vocal climate change denier with no training in science—for the role of chief scientist at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Clovis’ nomination represents an abandonment of America’s farmers, ranchers, and consumers who depend on the USDA to provide sound scientific guidance on the pressing challenges facing our nation’s food system. Moreover, Clovis’ history of denying climate change and peddling racist and homophobic conspiracy theories calls into question his capacity to make informed, objective, and sound investments for the future of American agriculture.

“Scientists and experts around the country are signing this letter to demand that the USDA chief scientist have a strong scientific background in order to fulfill the demands of this crucial position.

“Add your name to this letter urging the Senate Agriculture Committee to stand by its commitment to scientifically informed governance by voting no on Sam Clovis for USDA chief scientist.

“Learn more about the case against Clovis, and read the nine questions the Senate should ask of Clovis. Check out our Sidelining Science Since Day One report.” Union of Concerned Scientists.


GR:  Contact your Senators and ask them to reject the Clovis appointment. You could also contact Senator Pat Roberts, chairman and Senator Debbie Stabenow, ranking member of the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

Tell your Senators that Sam Clovis falls far short of the standards of chief scientist. While he holds a Doctorate of Public Administration, his professional background is completely devoid of relevant scientific experience. The USDA chief scientist must have a strong scientific background to administer scientific programs and make crucial decisions on food safety, agricultural productivity, and emerging threats to public health. Dr. Clovis lacks grounding in the scientific process and is not equipped to make informed, objective, and strategic investments for the future of American agriculture.

There are some excellent smart phone apps that simplify contacting congress. I’m trying out “Congress” by Eric Mill my phone. Seems pretty good so far.

Human Beliefs and The Ecocentric Alliance

Black-headed Grosbeak and two Lazuli Buntings.
These Grosbeaks aren’t as large as Robins, but they are big enough to have trouble perching on bird feeders. Young birds flutter and flap and sometimes end up hanging upside down as they learn to use the feeder. (Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona. GarryRogers.com. Photo: Male by GR.)

The Future of Human Understanding of Nature

If we come through global warming, overpopulation, and overuse of the Earth, our experience will have reforged our view of the world. I think we will have a clearer understanding of the limits of nature. This post discusses one probable shift in our post-anthropocene view of the world.

Those of you that have read about nature ethics and conservation are probably familiar with the two principal points of view, the human-centered or homocentric, and the nature-centered or ecocentric. The first views nature as socially and economically valuable because of the benefits for humans. The second views nature as intrinsically valuable independent of any benefits for humans. Near the end of a long career in the U. S. Forest Service, Aldo Leopold wrote:

“[A] land ethic changes the role of Homo Sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.”  Aldo Leopold, 1949.

Monarch Butterfly caterpillar on a milkweed outside my office.

The homocentric view has always dominated organized land use and management. The view calls for protecting the health and integrity of ecosystems so that their use is not interrupted–the sustainable idea. However, opening all of nature to attempts at economic use has led to mistakes and abuses. Moreover, it justifies changing the land for human benefit. Cities and farms remove and replace nature for human benefit. Thus, as our population and needs have grown, the extent, health, and integrity of ecosystems has declined. One symptom of this that is visible to us all is the decline in wild animals. Extensive counts and recounts have shown that more than half of all Earth’s amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, lizards, and turtles has disappeared over the past 45 years.

Alexander helping build the dog-proof fence around the garden.

The Ecocentric Alliance, formed from the ideas of Leopold and others of the same mind, is working to explain why we must shift to the ecocentric approach to nature if there is to be a real hope for survival of Earth ecosystems and us humans. The Alliance gives rational explanations of ecocentrism, and provides a venue for peer-reviewed discussions and analysis of the concept.  The Ecological Citizen is an online journal that addresses the central issue of our time: how to halt and reverse our current ecocidal course and create an ecological civilization.

The Ecocentric Alliance is a youthful organization that is still concerned with understanding its role in conservation. For this reason, we should ignore the introspective flavor of the explanations below.

Defining Ecocentrism

“Ecocentrism is a worldview that: (1) extends ethical considerations to all components — biotic and abiotic — of Earth’s living systems (the Ecosphere), as well as the dynamics of their interactions; and (2) values non-human nature independently of any benefit it may have for humans specifically.

“Ecocentrism brings with it new standards for thought, conduct, and action on such seemingly intractable problems as loss of habitat for non-human nature, degradation of living systems, and overpopulation and overconsumption by humans.

“Ecocentric ethics can provide moral guidance to corporate and governmental policy-makers, as well as to individuals across the globe, on reversing the decline of non-human nature and on building economic systems and communities that are in harmony with the Ecosphere.” –The Ecocentric Alliance.

The outline below gives a clear explication of the concepts and goals of the Alliance,

Ecocentrism Concepts and Goals

Eight ideas from this article

1: The well-being and flourishing of the living Earth and its many organic and inorganic parts have intrinsic value, that is, value in themselves. Such values are independent of the usefulness of the non-human world for human purposes.

2: The richness and diversity of Earth’s ecosystems, including the organic forms that they nurture and support, contribute to the realization of these values and are also values in themselves.

3: It is wrong for humans to reduce the diversity of Earth’s ecosystems and their vital constituents, organic and inorganic.

4: The creative flourishing of Earth and its multitudinous nonhuman parts, organic and inorganic, requires a substantial decrease in human population. The flourishing of human life and culture is compatible with such a decrease.

5: Present human interference with the non-human world is excessive, and the situation is rapidly worsening.

6: The pattern of human activities must therefore be changed. These changes will affect basic economic, technological and ideological structures. The resulting state of affairs would be deeply different from the present.

7: An important part of this change is appreciating all life and its intrinsic value rather than mainly pursuing endless economic growth.

8: Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary changes.

Ecocentrism Principles

From this article

CORE PRINCIPLES

1: The Ecosphere is the center of value for humanity.

2: The creativity and productivity of Earth’s ecosystems depend on their integrity.

3: The Earth-centered worldview is supported by natural history.

4: Ecocentric ethics are grounded in awareness of our place in nature.

5: An ecocentric worldview values diversity of ecosystems and cultures.

6: Ecocentric ethics support social justice.

ACTION PRINCIPLES

7: Defend and preserve Earth’s creative potential.

8: Reduce human population size.

9: Reduce consumption of Earth’s vital constituents.

10: Promote ecocentric governance.

11: Spread the message.

Practical basis for agreement

1: We have arrived at our perspective regarding the ultimate value of Earth and its systems via diverse routes, including science, intuition, literature, poetry, various spiritual traditions and experiences in nature. Ecocentrism is holistic, encompassing the best scientific evidence as well as the deepest intuitions and realizations of our human status on this planet.

2: We agree that giving the highest priority to Earth’s ecological integrity and health (i.e. ahead of economic considerations) is the wisest survival strategy for all species, including our own.

3: The sense of the ultimate values of Earth and her systems comes from a combination of plain living, observing, and experiencing the obvious wonders and profound beauty of nature in all natural ecosystems.

4: Our ethics follow from valuing Earth and its constituents, inclusive of human beings.

5: Human welfare, as well as the possibility of a desirable future, absolutely requires functioning ecosystems.

6: While it is of course legitimate for all living beings, including humans, to live and enjoy living, we have to do so in ways that don’t damage the time-tested regenerative systems of Earth.

7: Sometimes it makes sense to appeal to human self-interest. However, narrow human self-interest cannot override the requirement of respect for the Earth’s health and integrity.

Links:

Forty-five Years of Wildlife Decline

The Ecocentric Alliance

The Ecological Citizen

 

 

Here’s Who’s Getting Paid to Destroy the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

GR: The 1973 U. S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) should have been a first step on the path to effective nature conservation. If the corporatists hadn’t been in charge of our country, the Act would have formed the core of a true nature conservation program. Instead, the Act has always been too subject to political influence to be very effective. It only protects a small percentage of truly endangered species.

The leaders in the impending attack on the ESA aren’t the only members of congress receiving money from the extractive industries; they’re just the ones that were chosen to lead the attack. However, they top the list of nature’s enemies. And by extension, they are the enemies of us all. Here’s a link for ideas on removing them from positions of power. 

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY.), Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industries.

“A small yet vocal group of congressmen are gearing up this summer to dismantle the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Campaign finance records of these lawmakers reveal that they have all taken significant money from extractive industries frustrated by the law’s protection of critical habitat for endangered species.

“The ESA has proven to be a powerful, effective conservation safeguard. More than 99 percent of species that have been designated for federal protection continue to exist in the wild today, including the bald eagle, grizzly bear, the leatherback sea turtle and the Florida manatee.

“But the work of the ESA has only grown more urgent as many scientists agree that the planet is either on the cusp of or already experiencing a sixth mass wave of extinction. A study last week by Stanford scientists found that a significant number of plant and wildlife populations are growing dangerously thin.

Earthjustice is working with coalition partners to oppose efforts on Capitol Hill to weaken protections for endangered species. The public can also make a difference in this fight—despite the big money from fossil fuel industries funding opponents of the ESA—by contacting their Congressional offices (use this call-in tool to reach your Senator).

The Anti-ESA Effort and the Money Behind It

“The assault on the ESA comes in the form of dozens of legislative proposals and amendments tacked onto spending bills. One bill that’s expected to be introduced in a matter of weeks is the handiwork of Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.” –Rebecca Bowe (Continue: Here’s Who’s Getting Paid to Destroy the Endangered Species Act.)

IN its quest for Arctic oil, Russia admits its undersea nuclear dump

GR: If this is correct, it is an unforgivable desecration of the Arctic sea. “The catalogue of waste dumped at sea by the Soviets, according to documents seen by Bellona, and which were today released by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, includes some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radioactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel.”

Antinuclear

17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radiactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel.

one of the most critical pieces of information missing from the report released to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority was the presence of the K-27 nuclear submarine, which was scuttled in 50 kilometers of water with its two reactors filled with spent nuclear fuel in in Stepovogo Bay in the Kara Sea in 1981.

Information that the reactors abord the K-27 could reachieve criticality and explode was released at the Bellona-Rosatom seminar in February.

Russia Dumped 17 Nuclear Reactors and Tons of Waste in the Arctic by Charles Digges / Bellona.org, Earth First! Newswire, 30 Aug 12,  Enormous quantities of decommissioned Russian nuclear reactors and radioactive…

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