Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Can Crazy Save the Bay?

Once, Bay rivers reverberated to the slapping tails of millions of beavers, whose gnawing was night music throughout the landscape, although few humans were here to hear.

And now, millions of us, fewer beavers, and the Bay sorely misses the beavers’ countless dams and ponds and bogs and sloughs that damped the polluted runoff we now spend billions of dollars assuaging with our crude human devices.

So close the hatcheries for oysters, blue crabs, trout and shad. Breed beavers. Deliver them by FedEx, by UPS, in the dead of night in unmarked trucks manned by grinning greenies, to resurrect their empire throughout the watershed.
Eh.  Beavers make lousy neighbors.  They build dams, flood roads, lawns, parks, and once they move into an area they eat every scrap of woody vegetation less than 1 ft in diameter within a safe waddling distance.  And their idea of safe is fairly broad given the limited numbers predators tough enough to take on a rodent with teeth big enough to gnaw through a tree. Import wolves, bears and mountain lions back into suburbia, though, and I'm down with it.

In wild lands (and you don't need to go very far from a house to be wild for a beaver), there is no lack of beavers, in fact, they are constantly producing enough spare pups that they have to try to make a living in the suburbs.

And have you ever had Beaver Fever?  I have, and it's most unpleasant.

I suggest quite the opposite for deer, which have burgeoned in the absence of predators, in the presence of agriculture and in the refuges of suburban sprawl, where hunting them is near impossible. Overgrazing forests is only the beginning of Bambi’s impact. Deer are major vectors for the ticks that spread Lyme disease, whose threat has become a major barrier to enjoying our outdoors.

Stepped-up research for a deer-specific contraceptive should be seen as a major component of natural resource management. We need something deliverable in feed that won’t affect other species that might eat it, or eat a deer. A Nobel Prize awaits.
A nice idea, but highly unlikely.  I agree with the impact of deer on Lyme Disease (since Georgia has had it), but the chances of finding an oral contraceptive to slip into deer chow that won't interfere with all kinds of other wildlife is negligible.  You could loosen the rules about hunting around civilization, and encourage more young people to get into the sport though.  Sure, a few more people might get shot, but you might actually save lives by  decreasing the number of deer/car collisions.  But I'll be you wouldn't be happy with that solution.
Yet, right here in Bay country we have a tempting, if politically incorrect argument for landfilling mountains of poultry litter that pollute our rivers. The litter’s rich in phosphorus, which is the problem; too many farm soils are already saturated with it. Meanwhile, even as we debate when the world will run short on oil, come warnings that we will soon run short of phosphorus, mined in only a couple places. Some serious ag scientists think it not crazy to create large, leakproof landfills in poultry hotspots to ‘bank’ excess manure, to be extracted as world phosphorus prices soar.
It's a fine idea, and when the economics of it work, it will be done voluntarily.  And, if, as he says, phosphorus is getting scarce, that time will come soon enough as the price of phosphorus gets high enough.  In the meantime, I suggest farmers drop it off at Tom's house.  Think of all the money he'll make when that time comes!
Pee’s the problem, and not so yucky as poop, and sterile to boot. It can be composted and turned into a transportable, marketable fertilizer. No less than the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has looked into the possibility at a state-of-the-art environment center that it’s building in Virginia Beach.

And think of the jobs: retrofitting bathrooms and sewer lines throughout the watershed for dual waste streams. Hmmm, maybe pump it into scenic, golden lakes, adjacent to our scenic chicken poop mountains.
I think the same solution I proposed for chicken shit would be appropriate here, too.  Thanks Tom!
Most radical of all in the land of bigger equals better is a more serious pursuit of conservation, of downsizing. It’s not rocket science how Europeans enjoy a quality of life similar to ours on considerably less energy and land for housing.

They live smaller. Ever try to buy a small stove or fridge here with all the bells and whistles of big ones? Or a small luxury car?

We should reform tax policies to encourage smaller homes, smaller cars, smaller appliances and smaller families.

And tax savagely any home larger than 1,250 square feet, any car that does not get 40 mpg, any yard more than a quarter acre, any children born into a family that already has two.
Let me guess, Tom has a house of 1,250 square feet (so do I for that matter, and sometimes it seems unnecessarily big, now that the kids are gone), a car that gets 40 mpg, a small yard (mine is greater but much of it is still in native vegetation, and 1.5 kids.  And he wants to push his vision of how to live life on everyone else.  Like all Leftie-Greens.  There's no room for freedom or even dissenting opinion in his vision of the Bay.

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