Will the Anti-Hunters Pay for Their Pleasure?

By Wallace Kaufman

This is Part III of a three-part article. Part I is here; Part II is here.

The anti-hunters, of course, have yet to put significant money in play. More wildlife and wildlife habitat have been preserved and restored by hunters than by anti-hunting environmentalists. (Environmentalists tend to focus on nearly extinct species and on unusual specimens—elephants, rhinos, hippos, grizzlies, the albinos, and the big predators at the top of the food chain.)

Environmentalists concentrate on persuading governments to spend money to preserve and expand habitat and control poaching. Non-profit conservancies and land trusts, however, have made important acquisitions and are expanding their efforts. One of the oldest conservancies, the Nature Conservancy, has by itself preserved over 100 million acres and has over 1 million contributing members.

The alternatives to hunting are multiplying rapidly along with their enthusiasts and the funds they provide. I have hunted with a gun, but digital photography has radically reduced the cost of shooting with a camera. I go hunting every day without a license. I shoot with my camera. That requires as much, or more knowledge and skill than bow or gun hunting. The birds, deer, bear, elk, and other wildlife don’t know I’ve shot them, and I can shoot the same ones as many times as I like. Other photographers can continue to shoot them and amateur naturalists to watch them. Continue reading “Will the Anti-Hunters Pay for Their Pleasure?”

Hunters’ Last-Ditch Defenses

By Wallace Kaufman

This is the second part of a three-part article. For Part I see Hunters and Their Money Are Fading. For Part III, see Will the Anti-Hunters Pay for Their Pleasure?

How much hunters cherish killing is demonstrated by their own boasts of how much they spend on the pleasure. Pleasure is the operative word since I’ve heard no claims of charitable expenses in the pursuit of duty. The fact that trophy hunters and many others can’t convincingly explain why they spend so much and take so much pleasure in killing innocent animals does not suggest that they are bad or cruel or inhumane, only that the behavior has roots in the evolution of predators and humans in particular. Those who rationalize killing wildlife as an economic and humane means of preservation have begun to hide that deeper truth of human nature in socially acceptable language.

Peter Flack, a South African hunter and well-reasoned defender of trophy and sport hunting, nevertheless feels obliged to cover up. “The fastest growing segment of hunters in North America, which has some 13.4 million hunters growing at 3.4 percent per annum, are young women and urban men in their late twenties and early thirties like Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO, who want to take responsibility for the protein their families eat.”[1] It’s not the protein they are after but a fictional avatar.

Continue reading “Hunters’ Last-Ditch Defenses”

Hunters and Their Money Are Fading

By Wallace Kaufman

This is Part I of a three-part article. For Part II, see Hunters’ Last-Ditch Defenses. For Part III, see Will the Anti-Hunters Pay for Their Pleasure?

Many or most readers will soon strongly, even angrily, disagree with the conclusions of this essay, so let’s begin where we almost certainly agree. Hunters and their organizations have been heroes of wildlife habitat preservation and creation and of wildlife populations saved and restored. With some obvious exceptions, hunters have every right to think of themselves as environmentalists, but not “those environmentalists.”

Hunters plant thousands of acres in wildlife crops. Hunters paying their license fees have supported habitat protection with hundreds of millions of dollars. Long before the environmental movement began, hunters in Ducks Unlimited were doing work that saved more than six million acres of wetlands. Taxes on guns and ammo, along with license fees, now pay 60 percent of the budgets of state wildlife agencies. In Idaho alone, hunting permits contribute almost a half billion dollars to environmental programs. That is not the future. The social, environmental and economic services of hunting are already being replaced.

Three strong trends diminish the importance of hunting as a significant or desirable environmental strategy. Those trends are:

Continue reading “Hunters and Their Money Are Fading”

To the New York Times: No, Bottled Water Is Not Sucking Florida Dry

The Times’ writers egregiously omit the most important facts while larding the piece with innuendo and misleading or untrue but self-serving statements.

 

Florida has a water problem that is revealing something very self-destructive about environmental groups and science journalism. Case in point, the September 15 New York Times article by Michael Sainato and Chelsea Skojec headlined, “Bottled Water Is Sucking Florida Dry.”

The water bottler, of course, is the Swiss multi-national company Nestlé. The opinion piece jumps on the bandwagon whose riders have for decades ballyhooed Nestlé as the archetypal evil corporation. Says the article’s subtitle: “The state’s aquifers are shrinking, yet corporations want to appropriate even more of them.”

The Times’ writers egregiously omit the most important facts while larding the piece with innuendo and misleading or untrue but self-serving statements. Example: “The state and local governments have continued to issue water bottling extraction permits that prevent the aquifer from recharging.” Is it quibbling to note that the aquifers do recharge, but apparently not 100 percent? More seriously, it’s simply false to say the bottling of water prevents the full recharge since bottled water is about 1 percent or less of total extraction. (See the graph of important extractors below.)

Having falsely declared Nestlé and other bottlers to be the arch-villains, the writers propose a false solution. “The answer to this problem is simple: No more extraction permits should be granted, and existing permits should be reduced with the goal of eliminating bottled water production entirely in Florida.”

If they mean no more permits for anyone and no renewals, millions of residents in northern Florida had better start collecting rainwater (even if that would diminish ground water recharge). The target, of course, is Nestlé.

Perhaps they have a valid argument that the costs of extraction should be more than the small $115 application fee for the 1 million gallons a day Nestlé will bottle. (They do forget to mention that the actual permit holder is Seven Springs, which sells the water to Nestlé and that Seven Springs has had this permit for many years.) However, if Florida raises the fee for Nestlé, it would have to up the fee for all the far larger water users.

And who are those water users?

We can assume that either the Times’ writers don’t want readers to know who the big water users are, or that the writers themselves are ignorant and didn’t care to find out.

As indicated by the Suwanee River Water Management District in 2014 (see graph below, from page 9 of the district’s report), the three biggest extractors of Florida aquifer waters are agriculture, the water utility companies, many of which are non-profit public water districts, and home well-water users. Any one of them dwarfs Nestlé’s allowed use. From the district:

Currently, self-supplied agriculture is the largest user of water in the Santa Fe Basin, accounting for approximately 41% of total freshwater withdrawals in 2010 at an estimated 35.3 MGD [millon gallons per day]. Water withdrawals for public supply have also grown significantly in association with increasing population in this five county area, now totaling approximately 32.2 MGD. Domestic self-supply experienced similar growth in this period, but has remained relatively steady since the 1980s, now totaling approximately 11.3 MGD. It should also be noted that commercial-industrial mining uses have decreased significantly since 1965, and now account for only 2.7 MGD, or 3% of total withdrawals in this five county area. Together, these three water use groups account for nearly 91% of estimated freshwater withdrawals.

The New York Times writers abandon the real issues in Florida water when they enumerate communities in other states where some citizens oppose Nestlé water bottling. They bring on Flint, Michigan, not because Nestlé bottles there but because, “Residents of Flint have noted that while Nestlé pays practically nothing for water [elsewhere in Michigan], they are faced with high bills for poisoned water and have to rely on purchased bottled water.” The pollution of Flint’s water has nothing to do with Nestlé, of course, and they pay high bills because their bills include water purification and replacing old water lines and meters.

Finally, the writers resort to the obligatory climate change issue even if they have to leave Florida and cross the continent for a connection. They imply that Nestlé water withdrawals in a California national forest are stealing water desperately needed for biodiversity. They quote Ileene Anderson, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, “All the climate change modeling that has been done suggests Southern California mountains are going to get drier and hotter.” They also suggest Nestlé may have been taking more than its allowable withdrawal. “The California Water Resources Control Board is investigating whether Nestlé has taken more water from the springs than authorized.”

The Times’ article ends with a brief return to Florida, declaring that “Florida should prioritize providing safe drinking water for its residents, rather than bottling that water to resell elsewhere.” By this time the writers have made it clear that their interest is not in any solution to Florida’s water problem or even presenting the economics and science accurately. Rather, they are rewording the familiar argument that humanity is destroying nature and that human greed sanctioned by capitalism and embodied in the Wehrmacht of large corporations is the cause.

When even The New York Times publishes the clichés of propaganda lightly disguised as informed opinion, it undermines science and reason in general. It also validates the adversarial journalism that has not only contributed to the bitter divisiveness among Americans, but also convinces Americans that journalists are not to be trusted, even that there’s no such thing as truth.

I’ve been active in environmental causes for over 55 years, both as a leader of three state environmental groups and as a science writer. I have co-authored three books with scientists whose political opinions are quite different from mine. Credibility requires understanding and taking into account all perspectives. The greatest service we can do to protect our natural environment is to protect the credibility of our claims and analysis. Credibility is everything.

Wallace Kaufman

His career spans writing, teaching, and real estate, in which he has pioneered by creating and using environmental covenants in housing developments. Kaufman is the author of several books, including a memoir, a sci-fi novel about the ethical issues of genomics, and an early critique of the environmental movement.

 

Wallace Kaufman’s career spans writing, teaching, and real estate, in which he has pioneered by creating and using environmental covenants in housing developments. 

He has a B.A. from Duke and an M.Litt from Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar. Kaufman is the author of several books, including a memoir, a sci-fi novel about the ethical issues of genomics, and an early critique of the environmental movement, No Turning Back: Dismantling the Fantasies of Environmental Thinking. 

Recently he has taught poetry for Oregon Coast Community College and a course on environmental covenants at Texas A&M Law School in Fort Worth. He has served as resident adviser on housing and land reform in Kazakhstan, created several rural acreage communities with environmental covenants in North Carolina, and now works from his home base on a deep-water slough on the Oregon coast, where he photographs wildlife and landscapes.