Monday, February 11, 2013

Sorry Sen. Casperson, but Humans DO Cause Losses to Biological Diversity

Last week a number of Michigan senators decided that they wanted to severely limit the ability of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to set aside lands for the purposes of preservation and restoration. The Herping Michigan Blog summarizes Michigan Senate Bill 78:

The bill would amend several parts of the Natural Resources and Environmental
Protection Act to do the following:

  • Prohibit the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Natural Resources Commission from promulgating or enforcing a rule or an order that designates or classifies an area of land specifically for the purpose of achieving or maintaining biological diversity. 
  • Delete the conservation of biological diversity from the DNR's duties regarding forest management, and require the Department to balance its management activities with economic values. 
  • Eliminate a requirement that the DNR manage forests in a manner that promotes restoration.
  • Provide that a State department or agency would not have to designate or classify an area of land specifically for the purpose of achieving or maintaining biological diversity.
  • Eliminate the restoration of natural biological diversity from the definition of "conservation."
  • Eliminate a reference to "unusual flora and fauna" in the definition of "natural area."
  • Delete a legislative finding that most losses of biological diversity are the result of human activity.

Perhaps Senator Casperson should watch the following video, so as to understand what's wrong with the bill's suppositions (especially the supposition that humans don't cause losses of biological diversity):

Note to Senator Casperson: just writing a bill that denies reality does not change reality; only the official recognition of what is real, which actually creates perverse actions and outcomes that often run counter to the very point of the public good that bills like this one lead to. In this case, the bill is ostensibly for preserving the ability for hunters to hunt and loggers to log. However, without lands that operate as functioning habitat for deer (and all the things that help deer thrive, including predators), you won't have robust and resilient deer herds, and the state will have to pay for stocking forests with farm-raised deer so that hunters will have something to hunt. Similarly, without a functioning habitat for trees, the state will have to pay large costs for fertilization and pest management so that monoculture forest plantations are productive enough for a contractor to come in and cut down the trees. (And I'm not even going to consider the impacts of clear-cutting on soil quality, changes in local deer populations, and the knock-on impact to hunters - one of the groups this bill is ostensibly written to help.)

The fact that Senator Casperson also appears to be a believer in the Agenda 21 conspiracy also makes me wonder whether he actually understands that (A) the UN is not going to swoop in and take away private property rights because of biodiversity (after all, the UN can't be both an incompetent bureaucracy and a highly organized world-wide government hell-bent on using military tactics to take away American citizens' private property), (B) that conservation of natural resources OUGHT to be a conservative principle, (C) that all systems (ecological, social, economic, etc.) are connected, and if you change things in one area, you'll have knock-on effects on another.

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