Stuart Carlson, September 2, 2016
“If the 99% vote, the 1% will not matter.” — bumper sticker
The Humane Society of the United States Legislative Fund (not associated with the independent Wisconsin Humane Society) is supporting Russ Feingold against Ron Johnson in the race for U.S. Senate. Watch the ad here. It is a smart endorsement citing both the wildlife and pets championed by Feingold.
True leadership in politics requires, well, leading. It requires a vision and understanding of the world in order to guide constituents to sane policy. Good policy is often not the prevailing law, as evidenced by life on earth being destroyed so rapidly. I am speaking of the unsustainable abuse of “the other” 99.9999 percent of planetary life by humans.
This state particularly needs legislators who understand the science of the extinction of biodiversity and climate change and who act swiftly with policy to adjust to the crisis. We need them in this election. They are not the Republicans. We have a chance of pushing Democrats to act with urgency. Vote for Democrats across the board so we can move somewhere instead of obstruction and stagnation. Citizenship requires self-education and then educating your representatives, and most importantly, holding them accountable or voting them out. It requires educated, persistent voting.
“Since 1970, there has already been a 58% overall decline in the numbers of fish, mammals, birds and reptiles worldwide,” CNN reported about the World Wildlife Fund’s latest Living Planet Report. The report predicts two-thirds of nonhuman life on earth likely will be destroyed by 2020. Extinction is accelerating as species cannot find what they need to survive and climate change advances too rapidly for species to adjust. Human overpopulation and increasing consumption per capita, animal agriculture, deforestation to feed slaughterhouse animals, and increased hunting, trapping and poaching are all driving forces. With 60 percent of large carnivores threatened with extinction by trophy hunters and being exterminated in service to animal agricultural ranching interests, the balance of life is now so degraded that we are warned that the human species may not survive this trajectory — and our extinction could happen soon.
And still the federal government spends $100 million a year to slaughter our wildlife (so-called “services”), a kill every 12 seconds. We need legislators to end this massive, indiscriminate killing.
Do you love birds? A recent article in the Canadian Press is titled “Silent Skies: North America Has Lost 1.5 Billion Birds Since 1970s.” It says: “The report says birds are crucial indicators of overall ecosystem health. Healthy forests and prairies need healthy bird populations…”
As a friend of mine responded, “This is a panic.”
So what universe do Republicans live in? Evidently it is a universe where their extremely important political platform is promoting the destruction of endangered species like wolves and denying human-accelerated climate change.
The Republican-held Legislature in Wisconsin has enabled the running of packs of dogs on all public lands, unlicensed (no clue how many dog packs are run), to kill coyotes, bears, bobcats and any unlucky animal. The animals are run to exhaustion for the “fun” of killing. Republicans have authorized compensating bear hounders from the Endangered Species Fund for risking their dogs in the recreational killing of 4,750 bears annually, at $2,500 per dog killed. It is a profitable side bonus to a head on wall. With 37 dogs killed in this year’s dog-fighting free for all, that is $92,500 paid out from taxpayer donations to the Endangered Species Fund.
Sen. Ron Johnson thinks his support for killing wolves is important and politically advantageous. Speaking in Rhinelander Oct. 28, Johnson boasted: “I’m the leader in terms in delist of the gray wolf so we can stop harassing dairy and cattle herds and the deer population…”
According to the Department of of Agriculture, wolves are 2/10ths of 1 percent the cause of death of cattle before slaughter. Humans are the primary predator on hundreds of thousands of deer, with herds kept artificially high for hunter satisfaction.
Facts should matter.
Johnson has authored legislation to de-list wolves and is even running a petition to rally the wolf haters to support his wolf-killing agenda. But a 2013 Mason-Dixon poll showed that eight out of nine Wisconsin citizens support protecting wolves.
Do Republicans pay any attention to the plebs in their districts?
With the United States waging war in the Middle East, immigration reform obstructed, the Supreme Court nomination obstructed by Republicans, obstruction of renewable energy that could help address climate change, obstruction of infrastructure repair to create new jobs, and a planet in mass extinction crisis, incumbent Sen. Johnson, state Sen. Tom Tiffany and state Rep. Adam Jarchow all act as though killing wolves is of prime importance.
I listened to Russ Feingold’s rousing speech at Fighting Bob Fest. When he spoke of the beauty and peace of the northern woods, I waited to hand him a flyer about the killing of 4,750 black bears over packs of dogs and bait, which was ongoing as he spoke. I said, “The north woods are not peaceful.” He shot back, “They should be,” and promised to read the flyer.
A report in Current Biology documenting “catastrophic declines in wilderness areas” concludes: “Our findings underscore an immediate need for international policies to recognize the vital values of wilderness and the unprecedented threats they face and to underscore urgent large-scale, multifaceted actions needed to maintain them.”
There is an immediate need for urgent, large-scale actions.
Vote as though our lives and so many non-human lives depend on it.
Please sign and network a petition to the next president to take comprehensive action on two-thirds of wildlife destroyed on earth and helping our life support system survive.
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on November 6, 2016.