Jump to content
RememberSchiff

Naturalist-Environmentalist divide

Recommended Posts

 

24 minutes ago, NJCubScouter said:

A lot of people probably think of New Jersey as one big paved-over city, but there are a lot of areas where one may run into wildlife.  (Yes, I see what I did there.)

Yes like a bear cave at Split Rock Reservoir.  :o

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

These are not the thin western coyotes, these guys seem to be the large cat fed ones.  I see the "missing" Fluffy posters and sadly realize that the cat out and about who is missing, likely not coming back.  Several of our guys have written about coyotes for Mammal study MB.

Which brings us back to Bird Study.  Coyotes run "fluffy" to ground, more birds come to feed and breed. That may be tough on the inattentive felines, but good news for the smart ones.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, David CO said:

Fine, just so long as it is clearly understood that it is an arbitrary standard. There is no valid scientific reason to choose that as the starting point. 

CO2 levels have not been level through most of human existence. It has gone up and down. 

Up and down yes, but not to the same extent as the last 170 years.

If we start from approx 200,000 years ago which is broadly the age of the oldest anatomically human fossils, that CO2 levels have moved around between around 180-280 PPM. Since 1850 that has risen, pretty steadily, from 280 to over 400 PPM. Not only that but the change has been the fastest on record.

An arbitrary point to measure from in itself but perfectly scientific if one is considering the effect of industrial human existence on CO2 and climate change.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Tampa Turtle said:

But Tracky saying " self-proclaimed liberal friends" label does not really help that discussion. The discussion cuts across many different philosophical (economic, moral, religious, historical) axes. I taught a sustainability Class at a university 20 years ago and was anticipating being a MBC on this one but man..but BSA made it so boring and there were so many potential directions to make it more interesting. In any case the word of mouth by our scouts is to stick with Environmental Science.

I don't think it was tacky at all. As I said, they describe themselves that way and are quick to remind me that they are on a different end of the political spectrum than I. Their point being that I am conservative so I do not care about the environment.

After a bit of discussion, they sometimes realize that not only do I care, I have, in many cases done far more than they themselves when it comes to protecting our shared nature. Which is to my point about the sad political state we have been in for sometime in this country. They are quick to assume and tell me that because I can conservative and they are liberal that I don't REALLY (emphasis) care about the environment like they care. Which of course is utter hogwash and in most cases measurably so.

Edited by HelpfulTracks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, perdidochas said:

I agree with your son about killing the coyote if you are east of the Mississippi. They are not natives of the eastern U.S. 

Neither are we.

 

Compared to the Ordovician-Silurian and Jurassic-Cretaceous periods, we have lots more people, cattle, and internal combustion engines.  CO2 levels were 4000 and 2000 ppm by volume, respectively during those periods.   Poor Ginko trees.

I think we can make it worse than it has been in the recent past, and have, but I cannot swallow all the Flavor Aide.

And the issue has become political.

Main problem seems to be too many people for the size of the aquarium.

https://www.wfp.org/stories/10-facts-about-hunger-bangladesh

 

Edited by TAHAWK
  • Haha 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The people she is describing as naturalists are not naturalists (ok, they could be naturalists also but not in the context she is using the term).

Naturalists study nature - especially plants and/or animals.  In the context of climate change, naturalists are only concerned with it as a way to study how animals and plants react to it - they aren't advocating a position either way.

Environmentalists work to preserve the environment - and yes, these days, it's pretty much done in the political zone.

What she is comparing environmentalists to are better referred to as Conservationists.  Conservationists work towards preserving and managing our natural resources.  They're hunters creating shelter belts for deer, fisherfolk creating artificial ripples and rip-rapping to create/enhance trout habitat, they're prairie stewards pulling garlic mustard or doing controlled burns.  These are just examples of course - there are many ways people can be conservationists.

The thing about it is that people can be none of these, just one of these, two of these in any combination or all three.  I happen to be a naturalist through both my childhood experiences ("I've been a serious birdwatcher since I was 10), and by training (My degree is in Environmental Education - I had a lot more science courses than education courses for that degree).  I am still a serious birdwatcher, spent a lot of time studying dragonflies and damselflies in my 20's and 30's, and for the last couple of years have been paying a lot of attention to bumblebees.  

Because I am a naturalist, I am also an environmentalist with an interest in climate change policies.  In my 45 years of serious birdwatching, and list keeping, I've seen the trends.  I've seen flocks of robins wintering over in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin the past 10 years where it used to be rare to find just one in the winter.  Northern Cardinals are southern birds - or at least they used to be - now they're wintering over in central Wisconsin.  Northern Mockingbirds are southern birds as well - and were seeing more and more of them in Chicago were we never saw them before.

Plant populations are changing too - Sugar Maples are starting to die off completely in the south - their range is shrinking.  My favorite maple sirup place (yes - sirup - look it up) is worried that their sugar bush will be gone in the next 30 years - there are no new maple trees coming up.  There are already indications that the sugar bush could completely disappear from Vermont, Maine, Wisconsin and Michigan in the next 75 years.

Agriculturalists are worried that southern crops like Cotton and Tobacco, which need fairly long growing seasons, will supplant corn crops in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa in the next 100 years.  

Yes - this is mostly anecdotal evidence, but when you such a large diversity of anecdotal evidence to climate change, somethings up - and its enough to convince me its a real issue.   And yes, we've chosen an arbitrary point to start looking at climate change - but its a point well within our personal experiences, and sure, maybe its all a coincidence that there has been a doubling of CO2 levels in the last 100 years and a change in natural history patterns during that time but I look at it this way - If I'm wrong about climate change, the actions I take won't do any harm.  If the deniers in the political majority are wrong, their refusal to take action will do harm.

Of course, I am also a conservationist.  I'm one of those folks who go out and cut brush, pull invasive species. etc.

I also drive an SUV - I'm a big guy, I'm getting older and less flexible - an SUV has a lot more room and I like to be comfortable.  I eat red meat (though I do get my meat from local farmers who raise, slaughter and process locally).  I don't fly anymore but not because of my carbon footprint but because I think the security theater is stupid.  But I do like to travel and drive a lot - so much for a low carbon footprint.  Am I a hypocrite?  I plead not guilty. I'm not one of those environmentalists who are trying to tell other people how to live (I find most of those folks are people in their 20's - the "true believers" and that most of them grow out of it when they start to raise a family).  However, I will continue to advocate for more sustainable and renewable energy development.  Solar and wind will reduce a heck of a lot of carbon and be a boon to our economy and manufacturing sector as well 

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

Yes like a bear cave at Split Rock Reservoir.  :o

 

Oh, there are many black bears in northwestern New Jersey.  They do not generally behave that way toward our species, but the guy entered the bear's cave without an invitation, so...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Change. 

Sugar Maples are dying quickly of some disease that seems to have started in our area (NE Ohio) and is spreading.  Sugar maple producers are very concerned.

Something is killing off oaks.  Red Oaks are often dead in three weeks after the spots appear on the leaves.  White Oaks lasts longer, but dies too.

Ash Borer you know about.

Something is killing off the American Beech around here, a fungus I think.  As new trees grow from the roots of the old as they die, the American Beech  may well be the oldest living trees.  But can they survive this?

An Asian insect is killing the Eastern hemlocks.

Mild winters are accelerating pine borer damage.  It is somewhat foolish to plant a Scots' Pine around here.

Giant Hog Weed has left western PA and is many miles into OH.   A NASTY customer.

We have Snowy Owls in significant numbers around here.  Twenty-five years ago, the Bird Line would alert to a single sighting.  Now, they don't bother.

Red -Tailed hawks are displacing Red-shoulder Hawks.

The robins from Canada, stop here for the Winter.  Ditto for Canada Geese.  

Now we see groups of Starlings in Winter.Slate Juncos are seen all year 'round.  They used to leave with serious snow.   Now they forage under our feeder throughout Winter.  I need to buy smaller seed to suit them.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is interesting to look back on the Scouting history and reflect on who the prominent players were in the early decades.  There was a definite clash between Beard And Seton, yet both were, in their own ways environmentally concerned.  How they would fit into the modern definitions is another debate.  BP was a hunter and made sport out of big game and wild boar.  Yet, in his writings he often came across as for preservation practices, even in the area of hunting, recognizing that one could go too far and deplete the base beyond survival.

Of course, Teddy Roosevelt also was a big game hunter, yet many would give him a large portion of credit for early advances in the governmental protection of wildlife and flora.  Audobon was highly respected by the early Scouters, and of course we have Hornaday and Burgess.  

Today, some of the most important "quiet preservationists are the scouts who do trail maintenance and various conservation projects all across the nation, and, as I understand it, even more so in many other parts of the world.  In our area, some trails would not be useable without the scouts who work on them through our local cooperative efforts in the Trail Boss program.  And, while some fall short of the mark, most troops are cognizant of the meaning of the Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace.

Sustainability is really just another discussion of the Thrifty point of the Scout Law.  I too agree that it likely could have simply been another element of Environmental Science, but on the other hand, maybe it has a place, just as the other conservation MB's do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I consider Baden-Powell, Seton, Beard and Audubon to be primarily naturalists.  They studied plants and animals and/or encouraged others to study nature.  They didn't spend much time on thinking about or encouraging the conservation of natural resources.

Hornaday and T. Roosevelt I put in the ranks of conservationists (though Hornaday was  zoologist which pretty much automatically makes him a naturalist too).  Both were leaders in the forefront of conservation.

Were any of them environmentalists?  I would suggest no - they weren't really concerned with the systems of nature, the systems of the environment.  Of the impact on outside forces working on the forests, fields and waters other than perhaps hunting and fishing pressures.

Compared to naturalism and conservationism, environmentalism is still relatively young.   I think an argument could be made that the first environmentalist was Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, a clarion call on the dangers of pesticides in the environment. 

In a lot of ways, I think sustainability is incorrectly lumped in with environmentalism and environmental science.  Environmentalism is more about clean air, clean water, pollution control, toxin control, climate change, and its because sustainability is being shoe-horned into environmentalism and the sciences that its boring.

Sustainability, in my opinion, has much more in common with conservationism.  Sustainability is about the protection and management of, for lack of a better term, human-made resources - agriculture and energy.  Wind, solar, geo-thermal, and tidal energy sources are considered sustainable because they aren't a finite resource like fossil fuels are.  No one is making more coal and oil - once it's gone, it's gone.  But the sun isn't expected to burn itself out for another few millions of years yet.  If there are environmental benefits to switching to a more sustainable energy resources, well that's just a bonus.  Sustainability's concern with chemical use in agriculture, about large mono-cropping operations, about CAFO's is more about making sure that farmland can remain productive and that the food we eat is nourishing (as a side for those unaware, not only are we continuing to lose farmland to development, we are losing more and more farmland to the land just being completely burnt out of nutrients to raise crops beyond the point where even synthetic (man-made) chemical nutrients can't sustain crops on those fields).  Any environmental benefit is just a bonus. 

In my opinion, sustainability gets a bad rap from a lot of people because it is so tied in to the environmentalism movement (though its tied in mostly because the current sustainability leaders come from the environmental movement and not the conservation movement).  Until the sustainable folks and the conservationists start to reach out and recognize how much they have in common, I suspect the sustainable movement will always be considered a boring stepchild of the environmental movement.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When "science" is determined by how popular an idea becomes, we get "Silent Spring" and "Sea" or "Coral" Calcium.  The main pitchman for the second,  Kevin Trudeau, is in prison since he made money from his pseudo science.  Dame Rachael is credited with stopping the use of DDT with her influential , "ground-breaking," book (Which is not clearly true.  Other factors may have been involved.), and millions died thereafter of a disease, malaria, which seemed almost defeated by DDT.  http://reason.com/archives/2002/06/12/silent-spring-at-40 

2003:"The United States banned DDT in 1972 and environmental groups are trying to outlaw the pesticide worldwide. But in developing countries, it continues to be a cost-effective way to combat malaria, a disease that kills more than 1 million people a year in Africa."  NPR, March 11, 2003.

In 2006, The World Health Organization (a nest of rightists if there ever was one. :rolleyes:)  recommended resuming use of DDT to combat malaria. 

2015: "Mortality rates have dropped by about 50 percent over the last decade and a half, according to the World Health Organization. Where malaria once killed several million people a year, the organization’s estimated toll for 2015 was 429,000, the principal victims being children under 5 in sub-Saharan Africa." New York Times, January 22, 2017.

My great fear is that positions taken on the basis of sincere belief but little science will so discredit any attempt to preserve the environment that the anti-conversation stalwarts, who decry conservation as "tree-hugging," will convince the masses to support truly awful policies, to the great damage of the biosphere essential to the survival of our species.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Calico;  Have you done any investigation into Seton's work with the Canadian wolves?  It is my understanding that his long study, often in dead of winter, is still one of the best studies of them available.  Of course, the drawing he made of them, and even more so, the paintings, are both fascinating and a bit frightening.  For a few years, they had the one where the pack got the trapper just short of his cabin on exhibit at the Seton Museum at Philmont.  I believe it won an award in Paris, 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Skeptic,

Seton is a bit of a mixed bag.  Yes, he found the bones of the wolves involved in the incident reported by the trapper (who actually made it to his cabin before the wolves could get to him) which proved the trapper's story to be true.  But, his writing about wolves and other animals were highly anthropomorphic which led people to question the factual items in his stories.  William Burroughs named Seton as one of the "sham naturalists", a nature faker that confused the American public by publishing fictional animal stories and embellished true tales from the viewpoint of the animals.  On the other hand, his drawings of a series of ducks on one of his books inspired Roger Tory Peterson to draw and write his first field book on birds.

Tahawk,

I certainly can't argue with the facts presented in that reason article - but I can take exception to how utterly human-centric the article is.  I come away with the distinct impression that nothing matters to this author unless something is proven harmful to humans.  The conclusion seems to me to be as long as DDT doesn't harm humans (and it is true that there has been no studies have proved that DDT harms humans), then that is all that matters so we should just freely use it how we see fit.  My takeaway is that the author is suggesting that sure, we know its harmful to animals and birds but so what - people will die of malaria if we don't use a substance that is safe for us - and to heck with the birds.  I find that thinking just really sad - who cares if Bald Eagles or Peregrine Falcons have to go extinct as long as we can kill all of those malaria spreading mosquitoes!

My response is that we do know that DDT is harmful in the environment, even if it isn't harmful to us (at least as far as we know), and that should be enough to make us pause and ask "is there something else we can do to have the same life-saving effect?  Something like maybe a vaccine?"  Here's the thing, Malaria is eminently curable these days.  Even more to the point, there has been ongoing research in to creating a vaccine - which would be even more effective than trying to kill every living thing except humans within a 5 mile range of a small village - that is proving promising.  If even just half the research money used to try to solve "erectile dysfunction" had been spent on something far more important than whether some old white guy could get it up, like say malaria vaccine research, maybe we wouldn't have to make this Faustian bargain about the use of DDT.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Typically, I try to stay far, far away from this particular I&P sub-forum but the words" Naturalist" and "Environmentalist" caught my nature-loving eye.  :D

What we call ourselves (or others) is of little concern to me anymore with regards to environmental issues.  When it comes down to it, we all rely on clean water and clean air.  We all need nutritious food, which is grown in (hopefully) healthy soil.  And we need to have a clean living space free from hazardous wastes, such as garbage and biological byproducts, mucking up the works.  

I don't see how a naturalist couldn't be an environmentalist.  And I don't see how anyone couldn't be an environmentalist, based on the paragraph above.  In our society, unless you live in a cabin off the grid foraging for food and hunting your own game, we rely on energy to power our homes (heating/cooling), energy to power our laptops so we can pay our bills, register for the winter Klondike, feverishly check Scouter.com, etc., and farms to provide us with our sustenance.  So we drive SUVs, Teslas, Priuses, or ride bikes.  We all consume stuff and things.  

Finger pointing doesn't do us much good.  Denying climate change doesn't help anyone.  Actually, screaming about climate change from the top of the Empire State arguably won't do much either.  We are well past the point of no return when it comes to going back to any sort of previous level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.  

I think it comes down to a philosophy of how to live your life in such a way that you are leaving the Earth better than when you got here and, on a day-to-day basis, making sure that your neighbors have the same clean water, air, soil and junk-free living space you enjoy.  

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎12‎/‎21‎/‎2017 at 8:26 PM, CalicoPenn said:

If I'm wrong about climate change, the actions I take won't do any harm.  If the deniers in the political majority are wrong, their refusal to take action will do harm.

The collective actions of the climate change hoaxers do harm people. 

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×