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  • The 'Not Essential' List | Ramblings of appreciation for wildlife and landscapes, and observations of the decisions that affect them.
    in bloom in Shenandoah But the human impact on the landscape is dominant almost everywhere you look in the Washington D C area You would really have to immerse yourself in a hike through mountain valleys in Shenandoah or go deeper into West Virginia or Pennsylvania As much as I disagree with the strict legislated definition of Wilderness looking at a map of Wilderness areas in the United States is fairly indicative of the regions where we as humans have converted large swaths of land to serve our purposes and where we have not Out east and even in the midwest our often destructive touch is evident in any satellite imagery Sprawling slabs of concrete and asphalt farm lands gas and oil drilling mining transmission corridors and large wind and solar are creeping into the unprotected lands out west For almost every significant project on remaining intact ecosystems out west where much of the open space is considered public land the Federal government will produce an environmental impact statement analyzing specific impacts on wildlife water and air resources There is usually a visual resources section as well but these analyses often seem woefully inadequate and I have never heard of these concerns stopping the march of progress and the deletion of remoteness The usually include some photos of the project site and some simulations of what the area will look like after a project is built And they ll usually go to great lengths to explain why the project will not be considered a dominant feature on the landscape even if it becomes the only feature on the landscape How do you describe what we are losing when you build a project in a remote valley that will be visible from dozens or even 100 miles away How can anybody measure the value of a scenic vista How can you mitigate damage to that Once you build a large tower remove a mountain top or carve wide roads into a mostly intact landscape you have scrawled human graffiti on Mother Nature s work of art There are really not many of these works of art left The pace of human food energy and material needs continues to convert not just tropical forests in South America or Southeast Asia it is also taking its toll on the southwestern United States These endangered places here at home include the Pahrump and Sandy Valley area of Nevada and the Silurian Valley of California Desert landscapes that could be scraped by bulldozers and lit up at night with industrial scale energy facilities We ll be living in a nightmare driving for hours and unable to escape our own disastrous handiwork in search of a primal escape The peace I found by riding my bike out into the desert across the street from my house is endangered but I have never read an environmental impact statement that seemed to notice If our appreciation for conservation continues to take a back seat to our worship of industry one day we may only be able to find this solitude in a few good National Parks like Death Valley Yosemite Yeah you ll need reservations two years in advance for a day trip to see the valley And when you do find a good spot to rest your mind it will be overrun by people snapping photos from their cellphones like they would an adorable polar bear at the zoo Something we can all agree we love but we cannot find a way to save Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on June 30 2013 by Shaun G Chimney Swifts by Shaun G 3 Replies The tension builds in my shoulders all day Hunched over a keyboard Sitting in the icy draft of an air conditioner an inconsiderate machine that separates the haves from the have nots and siphons its energy from carbon stores that were supposed to rest in peace I come home from work long enough to know my wife She is the person who separates me from insanity and reminds me to care for those around me It is this time at home that I cherish watching her surf the television channels as the setting sun turns a blue sky to grey And the brief moment in the morning when I appreciate her lying beside me as I wake up and before I feel compelled to leave bed and put on a costume to make more Money It is not what she does but who she is that reminds me of my own true nature Money always wins but its influence is fear Why else would I leave this Peace for another day at a desk What forces me to survive this way Before I leave I will lie there as she sleeps I will lie and listen to the chatter of the chimney swifts The birds awoke before I did and began chasing each other above my apartment I can hear them through the open window and they are a more welcome interruption in my life than the shouts of the drunken crowds I heard pouring out of a bar across the street last night The chimney swifts sound jubilant for the sun s rise Their paths dart in odd angles at amazing speed They exhibit a burst of energy that seems foreign to my human metabolism at this hour The swifts spent all of yesterday soaring above the city s parks and along the river They nested along brick and mortar for the evening and woke up to chase a new day I do not know what compels them from their slumber but they sound more chipper than I do at six thirty in the morning I take comfort in knowing that I will hear them again in the evening after I unwind from a long day at work As the sun sets they are fluttering again above my apartment They are returning to their own homes And they chase each other as gleefully as they did in the morning The chimney swifts occupy my habitat This is man s terrain Steel and glass miles of asphalt and concrete And yet the swifts behave as if I am standing along rock cliffs in the middle of a deciduous forest They take me away from my place and bring me with them soaring along the river and chasing each other across the rooftops In the world of the swifts I am a have not I am bound by gravity and by Money My survival is relatively easy but I am supposed to want more than that No matter how difficult survival may be for the swifts they will continue to taunt and delight me during the spring and summer They are Mother Nature s agents in the city Encouraging defection among Money s masses Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on May 12 2013 by Shaun G Silence by Shaun G 3 Replies I am losing a fight that I cannot quit I am at the bedside of a dying being while a yelling match rages in the background and tears apart our inheritance of a beautiful Earth There is no Peace for this venerable being in its final hours and no respect from its sons and daughters Money reigns supreme over everything as humans grow more consumed with how to consume The shouting match drowns out words of compassion Starry skies meet a desert mountain s sharp silhouette and passing clouds cast brief moments of relief over the dunes The fight destroys a mountain and rips up a valley I cannot shout louder than they do though My words were robbed of meaning My mind was robbed of a voice There is no more wild life No wild land It is take or mitigation For megawatts and millionaires Landscapes are managed for production Serenity is lost to Money Even the saints speak for industry clean against dirty energy A climate hawk called me a treehugger as if I were a naive child so in love with nature that I couldn t understand Money problems A conservationist called me an agent of the fossil fuel industry as if I were the wrong kind of Money It doesn t matter who I am unless I am Money and what I fight for is inherently destitute and poor according to man s enforced paradigm Lizards and rocks They are resources of little or no Money value to man in their natural state I do not know how to turn these feelings into the words I need to make people see the beauty we are about to lose So I watch the sun set and rise and set again Each time more beautiful than the last Numb to the yelling that rages A violent house that I cannot escape It is my Earth but I have no choice to share it with the ones who do not care I have no choice but to keep trying I want to take you to the Earth s concert a bird cheerily saying farewell to the setting sun from its perch on a creosote bush A riot of color emerging from a sandy plain in the spring I want to explain these things but the words I find are meaningless to the raging shouting match behind me I will keep trying though I promise Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on February 11 2013 by Shaun G Damn Birds by Shaun G 1 Reply Get out of the way wildlife we need to save the planet for humans But instead people in Minnesota are complaining that a new wind facility could kill 8 to 14 bald eagles each year And others are worried about a new Wyoming wind facility that would kill a couple hundred raptors and over 6 000 bats each year And a solar energy facility will burn batter and blind birds along the Colorado river And others are whining about a wind facility in Nevada expected to displace or kill desert tortoises and industrialize a remote swath of peaceful desert What is wrong with people We have to hurry and fix our last industrial disaster which we caused when we became so enamored with mass production and consumption that we fed nurtured and sheltered an industry fossil fuels that cared more about profits than humans or our cohabitants on this Earth Wow What a mistake that was Toxic pollution destroyed habitat and extreme weather events That is why it is time for us to try a novel and hasty approach We need to bring in big industry and give them wide access to our still intact natural landscapes so they can counter fossil fuels Giant wind turbines standing over 400 feet tall and new solar facilities no not the kind in our cities and on rooftops but the kind that destroy beautiful desert valleys in California Arizona and Nevada Don t worry we wont repeat history this time We ll just give them generous subsidies roll back any well meaning environmental regulations instituted since the 1970s issue voluntary siting guidelines and then turn a blind eye Actually the first three steps are being taken care of thanks to the extensive lobbying by the energy industry at both the Federal and local levels After all if we don t act now climate change will swamp all of these other ecological issues So it is imperative that we shield the wind and solar industry from any criticism that they aggravate or worsen impacts on wildlife and wildlands After we cut emissions and sacrifice thousands of square miles of remaining wildlands to turbines and panels we will have more time to address habitat destruction and biodiversity What s that There are empty rooftops and already disturbed lands where we could generate clean energy Sorry that sounds complicated We re too busy trying to figure out a policy mechanism that will allow industries to kill some of our most iconic species That pesky Endangered Species Act the ridiculous Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the National Environmental Policy Act are standing in the way of rapid deployment of clean energy What were those legislators thinking It is as if they did not want to entrust industry with our public lands and natural resources Well the renewable energy industry is different from those old industries They receive their financing from small community banks like J P Morgan and Goldman Sachs and friendly companies like Google And they have a much different business model They have revolutionary political approaches like helping to elect anti green Republican candidates that want to do away with environmental laws or helping Chevron frack for fossil fuels in California Instead of destroying the Earth to mine and burn fossil fuels they destroy the Earth to tap wind and the sun s rays Instead of tall ugly smokestacks they have tall and elegant f iber glass and steel towers anchored into the land with tons of cement and more steel And instead of using large transmission lines to bring us energy from far away places they use large transmission lines to bring us energy from far away places So you sentimentalist treehugging landscape defending NIMBYs should be ashamed of yourselves for criticizing the impacts of the renewable energy industry And stop trying to slow us down with unrealistic ideas like energy efficiency rooftop solar or solar on already disturbed lands We re in a hurry to defeat a destructive industry and we need the quickest solution possible regardless of the costs Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on January 19 2013 by Shaun G Just the Right Height by Shaun G 1 Reply It was not the most ideal place to stop That is what I thought to myself as I pulled the car to the dirt shoulder of Route 66 between Newberry Springs and Ludlow two lonely desert outposts in California I didn t know what I was looking for but my brother had to get back to Victorville in time to get ready for work in the evening We had been driving for two hours and we wanted to walk around open desert like we used to when we were in elementary school No trails no plans no goals just walk around and explore We hit the road in search of a good place to explore I think back to this trip a lot because I tested a bias I have I wanted a natural escape that lived up to my image of ideal wild life in the desert I think I wanted creosote bushes about five feet tall Robust Joshua Trees with raven s nests high in the branches like the one that stood tall over the desert lot near my childhood home But where my brother and I stopped for our trek was a patch of desert that did not live up to my image of a perfectly wild place I was happy that my shallow expectations were shattered that day The creosote bushes the very common desert shrub that can be found throughout the Mojave Desert were no taller than my knee or at most my waist There were no trees and very few other shrubs It was a dry winter so no wildflowers to be seen As usual though the desert was full of surprises The rocks littering the desert soil were eye catching I am not a geologist but I couldn t help but admire the colors and patterns in so many rocks I imagined centuries of erosion that put the rocks in their place probably traveling slowly over time from the nearby Cady Mountains Reptile and small mammal tracks were evident everywhere we looked And eventually we spotted a couple of whiptail lizards that looked back at us nervously once they reached the shelter of one of those relatively puny creosote bushes We started following a dry wash and came across a desert tortoise burrow The half moon shape of the entrance was an exciting find but when we looked inside it was empty At our feet though were the tracks of the occupant We followed the tracks for what felt like miles but probably was no more than 300 meters Losing them then picking them back up again following an animal that was travelling west Wherever that tortoise was it knew where it was going We abandoned the search for the tortoise when we reached our time limit we needed to hit the road so my brother could get ready for work We still had a roughly two hour drive back to Victorville But on our way back to the car something caught my eye A juvenile desert horned lizard darted away to avoid our footsteps We carefully surrounded the little guy The lizard s tactic had changed from running to staying perfectly still We got some great pictures of the horned lizard and I wondered how many ant hills the lizard visited looking for a snack Where were its companions that had left so many other tracks in the sand Were there any predators for it to worry about If we had the time to stalk the plentiful burrows at night perhaps we would see the snakes or scorpions that might be looking for the lizard later on This patch of the desert would not look impressive to travelers zooming by on the highway at 70 miles per hour based on the criteria of towering trees and roaming megafauna But I was reminded of my experiences as a child in the desert when everything was interesting living or not and my expectations were not distorted These are my fellow beings after all The whiptails rocks and the creosote bushes If you can appreciate their experience and powerful endurance life is much more amazing Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on January 3 2013

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/notessentiallist/ (2015-09-25)
    Open archived version from archive

  • About me | The 'Not Essential' List
    on A Good Defense Is Not Enough Jessie Wych on A Good Defense Is Not Enough tom in joshua tree on A Good Defense Is Not Enough Meera Lee Sethi on Chimney Swifts Shaun G on Chimney Swifts On the Coyot es Network Some reasons I have been called a radical environmentalist Coyote Crossing Published on September 19 2015 by Chris Clarke On Forgetting My Field Guide Birds and Words Published on September 16 2015 by Julia Zarankin My Hit Single Are Warblers Less Important Than Tigers Reconciliation Ecology Published on September 12 2015 by Madhusudan Katti Making Friends With Crows The Corvid Blog Published on August 2 2015 by The Corvid Blog The Heart of Freedom Cecil the Lion Wild Within Published on July 29 2015 by Jennifer Molidor There s Gold in Them Hills Dispersal Range Published on June 28 2015 by Meera Lee Sethi California note 1 Slow Water Movement Published on July 7 2015 by slowwatermovement Joe Eaton calls Fowl A Review Toad In The Hole Published on July 4 2015 by Joe Eaton The other invisible hand View from Elephant Hills Published on 5 June 2015 by T R Shankar Raman The Silurian Valley spared

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/notessentiallist/about-me/ (2015-09-25)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Uncategorized | The 'Not Essential' List
    wildflowers in bloom in Shenandoah But the human impact on the landscape is dominant almost everywhere you look in the Washington D C area You would really have to immerse yourself in a hike through mountain valleys in Shenandoah or go deeper into West Virginia or Pennsylvania As much as I disagree with the strict legislated definition of Wilderness looking at a map of Wilderness areas in the United States is fairly indicative of the regions where we as humans have converted large swaths of land to serve our purposes and where we have not Out east and even in the midwest our often destructive touch is evident in any satellite imagery Sprawling slabs of concrete and asphalt farm lands gas and oil drilling mining transmission corridors and large wind and solar are creeping into the unprotected lands out west For almost every significant project on remaining intact ecosystems out west where much of the open space is considered public land the Federal government will produce an environmental impact statement analyzing specific impacts on wildlife water and air resources There is usually a visual resources section as well but these analyses often seem woefully inadequate and I have never heard of these concerns stopping the march of progress and the deletion of remoteness The usually include some photos of the project site and some simulations of what the area will look like after a project is built And they ll usually go to great lengths to explain why the project will not be considered a dominant feature on the landscape even if it becomes the only feature on the landscape How do you describe what we are losing when you build a project in a remote valley that will be visible from dozens or even 100 miles away How can anybody measure the value of a scenic vista How can you mitigate damage to that Once you build a large tower remove a mountain top or carve wide roads into a mostly intact landscape you have scrawled human graffiti on Mother Nature s work of art There are really not many of these works of art left The pace of human food energy and material needs continues to convert not just tropical forests in South America or Southeast Asia it is also taking its toll on the southwestern United States These endangered places here at home include the Pahrump and Sandy Valley area of Nevada and the Silurian Valley of California Desert landscapes that could be scraped by bulldozers and lit up at night with industrial scale energy facilities We ll be living in a nightmare driving for hours and unable to escape our own disastrous handiwork in search of a primal escape The peace I found by riding my bike out into the desert across the street from my house is endangered but I have never read an environmental impact statement that seemed to notice If our appreciation for conservation continues to take a back seat to our worship of industry one day we may only be able to find this solitude in a few good National Parks like Death Valley Yosemite Yeah you ll need reservations two years in advance for a day trip to see the valley And when you do find a good spot to rest your mind it will be overrun by people snapping photos from their cellphones like they would an adorable polar bear at the zoo Something we can all agree we love but we cannot find a way to save Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on June 30 2013 by Shaun G Chimney Swifts by Shaun G 3 Replies The tension builds in my shoulders all day Hunched over a keyboard Sitting in the icy draft of an air conditioner an inconsiderate machine that separates the haves from the have nots and siphons its energy from carbon stores that were supposed to rest in peace I come home from work long enough to know my wife She is the person who separates me from insanity and reminds me to care for those around me It is this time at home that I cherish watching her surf the television channels as the setting sun turns a blue sky to grey And the brief moment in the morning when I appreciate her lying beside me as I wake up and before I feel compelled to leave bed and put on a costume to make more Money It is not what she does but who she is that reminds me of my own true nature Money always wins but its influence is fear Why else would I leave this Peace for another day at a desk What forces me to survive this way Before I leave I will lie there as she sleeps I will lie and listen to the chatter of the chimney swifts The birds awoke before I did and began chasing each other above my apartment I can hear them through the open window and they are a more welcome interruption in my life than the shouts of the drunken crowds I heard pouring out of a bar across the street last night The chimney swifts sound jubilant for the sun s rise Their paths dart in odd angles at amazing speed They exhibit a burst of energy that seems foreign to my human metabolism at this hour The swifts spent all of yesterday soaring above the city s parks and along the river They nested along brick and mortar for the evening and woke up to chase a new day I do not know what compels them from their slumber but they sound more chipper than I do at six thirty in the morning I take comfort in knowing that I will hear them again in the evening after I unwind from a long day at work As the sun sets they are fluttering again above my apartment They are returning to their own homes And they chase each other as gleefully as they did in the morning The chimney swifts occupy my habitat This is man s terrain Steel and glass miles of asphalt and concrete And yet the swifts behave as if I am standing along rock cliffs in the middle of a deciduous forest They take me away from my place and bring me with them soaring along the river and chasing each other across the rooftops In the world of the swifts I am a have not I am bound by gravity and by Money My survival is relatively easy but I am supposed to want more than that No matter how difficult survival may be for the swifts they will continue to taunt and delight me during the spring and summer They are Mother Nature s agents in the city Encouraging defection among Money s masses Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on May 12 2013 by Shaun G Silence by Shaun G 3 Replies I am losing a fight that I cannot quit I am at the bedside of a dying being while a yelling match rages in the background and tears apart our inheritance of a beautiful Earth There is no Peace for this venerable being in its final hours and no respect from its sons and daughters Money reigns supreme over everything as humans grow more consumed with how to consume The shouting match drowns out words of compassion Starry skies meet a desert mountain s sharp silhouette and passing clouds cast brief moments of relief over the dunes The fight destroys a mountain and rips up a valley I cannot shout louder than they do though My words were robbed of meaning My mind was robbed of a voice There is no more wild life No wild land It is take or mitigation For megawatts and millionaires Landscapes are managed for production Serenity is lost to Money Even the saints speak for industry clean against dirty energy A climate hawk called me a treehugger as if I were a naive child so in love with nature that I couldn t understand Money problems A conservationist called me an agent of the fossil fuel industry as if I were the wrong kind of Money It doesn t matter who I am unless I am Money and what I fight for is inherently destitute and poor according to man s enforced paradigm Lizards and rocks They are resources of little or no Money value to man in their natural state I do not know how to turn these feelings into the words I need to make people see the beauty we are about to lose So I watch the sun set and rise and set again Each time more beautiful than the last Numb to the yelling that rages A violent house that I cannot escape It is my Earth but I have no choice to share it with the ones who do not care I have no choice but to keep trying I want to take you to the Earth s concert a bird cheerily saying farewell to the setting sun from its perch on a creosote bush A riot of color emerging from a sandy plain in the spring I want to explain these things but the words I find are meaningless to the raging shouting match behind me I will keep trying though I promise Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on February 11 2013 by Shaun G Damn Birds by Shaun G 1 Reply Get out of the way wildlife we need to save the planet for humans But instead people in Minnesota are complaining that a new wind facility could kill 8 to 14 bald eagles each year And others are worried about a new Wyoming wind facility that would kill a couple hundred raptors and over 6 000 bats each year And a solar energy facility will burn batter and blind birds along the Colorado river And others are whining about a wind facility in Nevada expected to displace or kill desert tortoises and industrialize a remote swath of peaceful desert What is wrong with people We have to hurry and fix our last industrial disaster which we caused when we became so enamored with mass production and consumption that we fed nurtured and sheltered an industry fossil fuels that cared more about profits than humans or our cohabitants on this Earth Wow What a mistake that was Toxic pollution destroyed habitat and extreme weather events That is why it is time for us to try a novel and hasty approach We need to bring in big industry and give them wide access to our still intact natural landscapes so they can counter fossil fuels Giant wind turbines standing over 400 feet tall and new solar facilities no not the kind in our cities and on rooftops but the kind that destroy beautiful desert valleys in California Arizona and Nevada Don t worry we wont repeat history this time We ll just give them generous subsidies roll back any well meaning environmental regulations instituted since the 1970s issue voluntary siting guidelines and then turn a blind eye Actually the first three steps are being taken care of thanks to the extensive lobbying by the energy industry at both the Federal and local levels After all if we don t act now climate change will swamp all of these other ecological issues So it is imperative that we shield the wind and solar industry from any criticism that they aggravate or worsen impacts on wildlife and wildlands After we cut emissions and sacrifice thousands of square miles of remaining wildlands to turbines and panels we will have more time to address habitat destruction and biodiversity What s that There are empty rooftops and already disturbed lands where we could generate clean energy Sorry that sounds complicated We re too busy trying to figure out a policy mechanism that will allow industries to kill some of our most iconic species That pesky Endangered Species Act the ridiculous Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the National Environmental Policy Act are standing in the way of rapid deployment of clean energy What were those legislators thinking It is as if they did not want to entrust industry with our public lands and natural resources Well the renewable energy industry is different from those old industries They receive their financing from small community banks like J P Morgan and Goldman Sachs and friendly companies like Google And they have a much different business model They have revolutionary political approaches like helping to elect anti green Republican candidates that want to do away with environmental laws or helping Chevron frack for fossil fuels in California Instead of destroying the Earth to mine and burn fossil fuels they destroy the Earth to tap wind and the sun s rays Instead of tall ugly smokestacks they have tall and elegant f iber glass and steel towers anchored into the land with tons of cement and more steel And instead of using large transmission lines to bring us energy from far away places they use large transmission lines to bring us energy from far away places So you sentimentalist treehugging landscape defending NIMBYs should be ashamed of yourselves for criticizing the impacts of the renewable energy industry And stop trying to slow us down with unrealistic ideas like energy efficiency rooftop solar or solar on already disturbed lands We re in a hurry to defeat a destructive industry and we need the quickest solution possible regardless of the costs Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on January 19 2013 by Shaun G Just the Right Height by Shaun G 1 Reply It was not the most ideal place to stop That is what I thought to myself as I pulled the car to the dirt shoulder of Route 66 between Newberry Springs and Ludlow two lonely desert outposts in California I didn t know what I was looking for but my brother had to get back to Victorville in time to get ready for work in the evening We had been driving for two hours and we wanted to walk around open desert like we used to when we were in elementary school No trails no plans no goals just walk around and explore We hit the road in search of a good place to explore I think back to this trip a lot because I tested a bias I have I wanted a natural escape that lived up to my image of ideal wild life in the desert I think I wanted creosote bushes about five feet tall Robust Joshua Trees with raven s nests high in the branches like the one that stood tall over the desert lot near my childhood home But where my brother and I stopped for our trek was a patch of desert that did not live up to my image of a perfectly wild place I was happy that my shallow expectations were shattered that day The creosote bushes the very common desert shrub that can be found throughout the Mojave Desert were no taller than my knee or at most my waist There were no trees and very few other shrubs It was a dry winter so no wildflowers to be seen As usual though the desert was full of surprises The rocks littering the desert soil were eye catching I am not a geologist but I couldn t help but admire the colors and patterns in so many rocks I imagined centuries of erosion that put the rocks in their place probably traveling slowly over time from the nearby Cady Mountains Reptile and small mammal tracks were evident everywhere we looked And eventually we spotted a couple of whiptail lizards that looked back at us nervously once they reached the shelter of one of those relatively puny creosote bushes We started following a dry wash and came across a desert tortoise burrow The half moon shape of the entrance was an exciting find but when we looked inside it was empty At our feet though were the tracks of the occupant We followed the tracks for what felt like miles but probably was no more than 300 meters Losing them then picking them back up again following an animal that was travelling west Wherever that tortoise was it knew where it was going We abandoned the search for the tortoise when we reached our time limit we needed to hit the road so my brother could get ready for work We still had a roughly two hour drive back to Victorville But on our way back to the car something caught my eye A juvenile desert horned lizard darted away to avoid our footsteps We carefully surrounded the little guy The lizard s tactic had changed from running to staying perfectly still We got some great pictures of the horned lizard and I wondered how many ant hills the lizard visited looking for a snack Where were its companions that had left so many other tracks in the sand Were there any predators for it to worry about If we had the time to stalk the plentiful burrows at night perhaps we would see the snakes or scorpions that might be looking for the lizard later on This patch of the desert would not look impressive to travelers zooming by on the highway at 70 miles per hour based on the criteria of towering trees and roaming megafauna But I was reminded of my experiences as a child in the desert when everything was interesting living or not and my expectations were not distorted These are my fellow beings after all The whiptails rocks and the creosote bushes If you can appreciate their experience and powerful endurance life is much more amazing Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on January 3

    Original URL path: http://coyot.es/notessentiallist/category/uncategorized/ (2015-09-25)
    Open archived version from archive

  • Shaun G. | The 'Not Essential' List
    or wildflowers in bloom in Shenandoah But the human impact on the landscape is dominant almost everywhere you look in the Washington D C area You would really have to immerse yourself in a hike through mountain valleys in Shenandoah or go deeper into West Virginia or Pennsylvania As much as I disagree with the strict legislated definition of Wilderness looking at a map of Wilderness areas in the United States is fairly indicative of the regions where we as humans have converted large swaths of land to serve our purposes and where we have not Out east and even in the midwest our often destructive touch is evident in any satellite imagery Sprawling slabs of concrete and asphalt farm lands gas and oil drilling mining transmission corridors and large wind and solar are creeping into the unprotected lands out west For almost every significant project on remaining intact ecosystems out west where much of the open space is considered public land the Federal government will produce an environmental impact statement analyzing specific impacts on wildlife water and air resources There is usually a visual resources section as well but these analyses often seem woefully inadequate and I have never heard of these concerns stopping the march of progress and the deletion of remoteness The usually include some photos of the project site and some simulations of what the area will look like after a project is built And they ll usually go to great lengths to explain why the project will not be considered a dominant feature on the landscape even if it becomes the only feature on the landscape How do you describe what we are losing when you build a project in a remote valley that will be visible from dozens or even 100 miles away How can anybody measure the value of a scenic vista How can you mitigate damage to that Once you build a large tower remove a mountain top or carve wide roads into a mostly intact landscape you have scrawled human graffiti on Mother Nature s work of art There are really not many of these works of art left The pace of human food energy and material needs continues to convert not just tropical forests in South America or Southeast Asia it is also taking its toll on the southwestern United States These endangered places here at home include the Pahrump and Sandy Valley area of Nevada and the Silurian Valley of California Desert landscapes that could be scraped by bulldozers and lit up at night with industrial scale energy facilities We ll be living in a nightmare driving for hours and unable to escape our own disastrous handiwork in search of a primal escape The peace I found by riding my bike out into the desert across the street from my house is endangered but I have never read an environmental impact statement that seemed to notice If our appreciation for conservation continues to take a back seat to our worship of industry one day we may only be able to find this solitude in a few good National Parks like Death Valley Yosemite Yeah you ll need reservations two years in advance for a day trip to see the valley And when you do find a good spot to rest your mind it will be overrun by people snapping photos from their cellphones like they would an adorable polar bear at the zoo Something we can all agree we love but we cannot find a way to save Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on June 30 2013 by Shaun G Chimney Swifts by Shaun G 3 Replies The tension builds in my shoulders all day Hunched over a keyboard Sitting in the icy draft of an air conditioner an inconsiderate machine that separates the haves from the have nots and siphons its energy from carbon stores that were supposed to rest in peace I come home from work long enough to know my wife She is the person who separates me from insanity and reminds me to care for those around me It is this time at home that I cherish watching her surf the television channels as the setting sun turns a blue sky to grey And the brief moment in the morning when I appreciate her lying beside me as I wake up and before I feel compelled to leave bed and put on a costume to make more Money It is not what she does but who she is that reminds me of my own true nature Money always wins but its influence is fear Why else would I leave this Peace for another day at a desk What forces me to survive this way Before I leave I will lie there as she sleeps I will lie and listen to the chatter of the chimney swifts The birds awoke before I did and began chasing each other above my apartment I can hear them through the open window and they are a more welcome interruption in my life than the shouts of the drunken crowds I heard pouring out of a bar across the street last night The chimney swifts sound jubilant for the sun s rise Their paths dart in odd angles at amazing speed They exhibit a burst of energy that seems foreign to my human metabolism at this hour The swifts spent all of yesterday soaring above the city s parks and along the river They nested along brick and mortar for the evening and woke up to chase a new day I do not know what compels them from their slumber but they sound more chipper than I do at six thirty in the morning I take comfort in knowing that I will hear them again in the evening after I unwind from a long day at work As the sun sets they are fluttering again above my apartment They are returning to their own homes And they chase each other as gleefully as they did in the morning The chimney swifts occupy my habitat This is man s terrain Steel and glass miles of asphalt and concrete And yet the swifts behave as if I am standing along rock cliffs in the middle of a deciduous forest They take me away from my place and bring me with them soaring along the river and chasing each other across the rooftops In the world of the swifts I am a have not I am bound by gravity and by Money My survival is relatively easy but I am supposed to want more than that No matter how difficult survival may be for the swifts they will continue to taunt and delight me during the spring and summer They are Mother Nature s agents in the city Encouraging defection among Money s masses Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on May 12 2013 by Shaun G Silence by Shaun G 3 Replies I am losing a fight that I cannot quit I am at the bedside of a dying being while a yelling match rages in the background and tears apart our inheritance of a beautiful Earth There is no Peace for this venerable being in its final hours and no respect from its sons and daughters Money reigns supreme over everything as humans grow more consumed with how to consume The shouting match drowns out words of compassion Starry skies meet a desert mountain s sharp silhouette and passing clouds cast brief moments of relief over the dunes The fight destroys a mountain and rips up a valley I cannot shout louder than they do though My words were robbed of meaning My mind was robbed of a voice There is no more wild life No wild land It is take or mitigation For megawatts and millionaires Landscapes are managed for production Serenity is lost to Money Even the saints speak for industry clean against dirty energy A climate hawk called me a treehugger as if I were a naive child so in love with nature that I couldn t understand Money problems A conservationist called me an agent of the fossil fuel industry as if I were the wrong kind of Money It doesn t matter who I am unless I am Money and what I fight for is inherently destitute and poor according to man s enforced paradigm Lizards and rocks They are resources of little or no Money value to man in their natural state I do not know how to turn these feelings into the words I need to make people see the beauty we are about to lose So I watch the sun set and rise and set again Each time more beautiful than the last Numb to the yelling that rages A violent house that I cannot escape It is my Earth but I have no choice to share it with the ones who do not care I have no choice but to keep trying I want to take you to the Earth s concert a bird cheerily saying farewell to the setting sun from its perch on a creosote bush A riot of color emerging from a sandy plain in the spring I want to explain these things but the words I find are meaningless to the raging shouting match behind me I will keep trying though I promise Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on February 11 2013 by Shaun G Damn Birds by Shaun G 1 Reply Get out of the way wildlife we need to save the planet for humans But instead people in Minnesota are complaining that a new wind facility could kill 8 to 14 bald eagles each year And others are worried about a new Wyoming wind facility that would kill a couple hundred raptors and over 6 000 bats each year And a solar energy facility will burn batter and blind birds along the Colorado river And others are whining about a wind facility in Nevada expected to displace or kill desert tortoises and industrialize a remote swath of peaceful desert What is wrong with people We have to hurry and fix our last industrial disaster which we caused when we became so enamored with mass production and consumption that we fed nurtured and sheltered an industry fossil fuels that cared more about profits than humans or our cohabitants on this Earth Wow What a mistake that was Toxic pollution destroyed habitat and extreme weather events That is why it is time for us to try a novel and hasty approach We need to bring in big industry and give them wide access to our still intact natural landscapes so they can counter fossil fuels Giant wind turbines standing over 400 feet tall and new solar facilities no not the kind in our cities and on rooftops but the kind that destroy beautiful desert valleys in California Arizona and Nevada Don t worry we wont repeat history this time We ll just give them generous subsidies roll back any well meaning environmental regulations instituted since the 1970s issue voluntary siting guidelines and then turn a blind eye Actually the first three steps are being taken care of thanks to the extensive lobbying by the energy industry at both the Federal and local levels After all if we don t act now climate change will swamp all of these other ecological issues So it is imperative that we shield the wind and solar industry from any criticism that they aggravate or worsen impacts on wildlife and wildlands After we cut emissions and sacrifice thousands of square miles of remaining wildlands to turbines and panels we will have more time to address habitat destruction and biodiversity What s that There are empty rooftops and already disturbed lands where we could generate clean energy Sorry that sounds complicated We re too busy trying to figure out a policy mechanism that will allow industries to kill some of our most iconic species That pesky Endangered Species Act the ridiculous Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the National Environmental Policy Act are standing in the way of rapid deployment of clean energy What were those legislators thinking It is as if they did not want to entrust industry with our public lands and natural resources Well the renewable energy industry is different from those old industries They receive their financing from small community banks like J P Morgan and Goldman Sachs and friendly companies like Google And they have a much different business model They have revolutionary political approaches like helping to elect anti green Republican candidates that want to do away with environmental laws or helping Chevron frack for fossil fuels in California Instead of destroying the Earth to mine and burn fossil fuels they destroy the Earth to tap wind and the sun s rays Instead of tall ugly smokestacks they have tall and elegant f iber glass and steel towers anchored into the land with tons of cement and more steel And instead of using large transmission lines to bring us energy from far away places they use large transmission lines to bring us energy from far away places So you sentimentalist treehugging landscape defending NIMBYs should be ashamed of yourselves for criticizing the impacts of the renewable energy industry And stop trying to slow us down with unrealistic ideas like energy efficiency rooftop solar or solar on already disturbed lands We re in a hurry to defeat a destructive industry and we need the quickest solution possible regardless of the costs Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on January 19 2013 by Shaun G Just the Right Height by Shaun G 1 Reply It was not the most ideal place to stop That is what I thought to myself as I pulled the car to the dirt shoulder of Route 66 between Newberry Springs and Ludlow two lonely desert outposts in California I didn t know what I was looking for but my brother had to get back to Victorville in time to get ready for work in the evening We had been driving for two hours and we wanted to walk around open desert like we used to when we were in elementary school No trails no plans no goals just walk around and explore We hit the road in search of a good place to explore I think back to this trip a lot because I tested a bias I have I wanted a natural escape that lived up to my image of ideal wild life in the desert I think I wanted creosote bushes about five feet tall Robust Joshua Trees with raven s nests high in the branches like the one that stood tall over the desert lot near my childhood home But where my brother and I stopped for our trek was a patch of desert that did not live up to my image of a perfectly wild place I was happy that my shallow expectations were shattered that day The creosote bushes the very common desert shrub that can be found throughout the Mojave Desert were no taller than my knee or at most my waist There were no trees and very few other shrubs It was a dry winter so no wildflowers to be seen As usual though the desert was full of surprises The rocks littering the desert soil were eye catching I am not a geologist but I couldn t help but admire the colors and patterns in so many rocks I imagined centuries of erosion that put the rocks in their place probably traveling slowly over time from the nearby Cady Mountains Reptile and small mammal tracks were evident everywhere we looked And eventually we spotted a couple of whiptail lizards that looked back at us nervously once they reached the shelter of one of those relatively puny creosote bushes We started following a dry wash and came across a desert tortoise burrow The half moon shape of the entrance was an exciting find but when we looked inside it was empty At our feet though were the tracks of the occupant We followed the tracks for what felt like miles but probably was no more than 300 meters Losing them then picking them back up again following an animal that was travelling west Wherever that tortoise was it knew where it was going We abandoned the search for the tortoise when we reached our time limit we needed to hit the road so my brother could get ready for work We still had a roughly two hour drive back to Victorville But on our way back to the car something caught my eye A juvenile desert horned lizard darted away to avoid our footsteps We carefully surrounded the little guy The lizard s tactic had changed from running to staying perfectly still We got some great pictures of the horned lizard and I wondered how many ant hills the lizard visited looking for a snack Where were its companions that had left so many other tracks in the sand Were there any predators for it to worry about If we had the time to stalk the plentiful burrows at night perhaps we would see the snakes or scorpions that might be looking for the lizard later on This patch of the desert would not look impressive to travelers zooming by on the highway at 70 miles per hour based on the criteria of towering trees and roaming megafauna But I was reminded of my experiences as a child in the desert when everything was interesting living or not and my expectations were not distorted These are my fellow beings after all The whiptails rocks and the creosote bushes If you can appreciate their experience and powerful endurance life is much more amazing Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on January

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  • A Good Defense…Is Not Enough | The 'Not Essential' List
    difficult for scientists to manage given uncertainty of population trends over three decades So what will it take I think we have to accept that we will not make progress with this administration on many environmental policies These eight years were supposed to represent a major shift in environmental policy and instead we may be only marginally better off than where we were in 2000 What we should consider is how to take away the incentive for future administrations and policymakers to muddle forward in the same manner adopted by this administration In order to do so we should re examine our own tactics because I think we may be doing more harm than good For one accepting Washington s ground rules is not the way to go For example in an effort to enhance their influence some environmentalists argued that climate change is not an environmental issue but an economic one Dirty coal plants are not an environmental issue but a health issue Protecting wildlands is not an environmental issue it s a tourism and outdoor recreation industry issue In a desperate effort to get Washington s attention which nobody expected would be this difficult under this administration we have behaved as if we are ashamed of being environmentalists and sought to transform ourselves into the industrialists and corporations that do own Washington Damage to the environment is damage to economic growth Save the environment for the sake of growth These are compatible values if you accept that open spaces and biodiversity are only valuable in relation to the utility they serve for corporations Extreme weather events cause insurances rates to go up REI can sell more gear if we have National Parks for people to visit The solar industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in th economy Save these lands because they help filter and provide clean water All true but all framed in such a way to appeal to a paradigm that over time will never favor sustainability and the other less quantifiable values of the places and wildlife we love Capitulating to the condition that any environmental protections must be justifiable according to a framework written and controlled by the expansion of wealth for a limited set of corporations and policymakers is a losing strategy If you want to remind them of these economic benefits fine but our campaigns should be built around the core principles that drive us to care about wildlands and wildlife These are beautiful places and beings and we do not want to live on a planet without them Our consumption and growth impacts these values and every little impact we have on a single species or acre of land has cumulative effects on the rest of our lands and wildlife Our approach should be to outline the most sustainable paths forward Our efforts are sure to appear out of place in Washington but that is the point Instead of figuring out how we fit in an unsustainable model and

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  • A Good Defense…Is Not Enough | The 'Not Essential' List
    is difficult for scientists to manage given uncertainty of population trends over three decades So what will it take I think we have to accept that we will not make progress with this administration on many environmental policies These eight years were supposed to represent a major shift in environmental policy and instead we may be only marginally better off than where we were in 2000 What we should consider is how to take away the incentive for future administrations and policymakers to muddle forward in the same manner adopted by this administration In order to do so we should re examine our own tactics because I think we may be doing more harm than good For one accepting Washington s ground rules is not the way to go For example in an effort to enhance their influence some environmentalists argued that climate change is not an environmental issue but an economic one Dirty coal plants are not an environmental issue but a health issue Protecting wildlands is not an environmental issue it s a tourism and outdoor recreation industry issue In a desperate effort to get Washington s attention which nobody expected would be this difficult under this administration we have behaved as if we are ashamed of being environmentalists and sought to transform ourselves into the industrialists and corporations that do own Washington Damage to the environment is damage to economic growth Save the environment for the sake of growth These are compatible values if you accept that open spaces and biodiversity are only valuable in relation to the utility they serve for corporations Extreme weather events cause insurances rates to go up REI can sell more gear if we have National Parks for people to visit The solar industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in th economy Save these lands because they help filter and provide clean water All true but all framed in such a way to appeal to a paradigm that over time will never favor sustainability and the other less quantifiable values of the places and wildlife we love Capitulating to the condition that any environmental protections must be justifiable according to a framework written and controlled by the expansion of wealth for a limited set of corporations and policymakers is a losing strategy If you want to remind them of these economic benefits fine but our campaigns should be built around the core principles that drive us to care about wildlands and wildlife These are beautiful places and beings and we do not want to live on a planet without them Our consumption and growth impacts these values and every little impact we have on a single species or acre of land has cumulative effects on the rest of our lands and wildlife Our approach should be to outline the most sustainable paths forward Our efforts are sure to appear out of place in Washington but that is the point Instead of figuring out how we fit in an unsustainable model

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  • Chimney Swifts | The 'Not Essential' List
    woke up to chase a new day I do not know what compels them from their slumber but they sound more chipper than I do at six thirty in the morning I take comfort in knowing that I will hear them again in the evening after I unwind from a long day at work As the sun sets they are fluttering again above my apartment They are returning to their own homes And they chase each other as gleefully as they did in the morning The chimney swifts occupy my habitat This is man s terrain Steel and glass miles of asphalt and concrete And yet the swifts behave as if I am standing along rock cliffs in the middle of a deciduous forest They take me away from my place and bring me with them soaring along the river and chasing each other across the rooftops In the world of the swifts I am a have not I am bound by gravity and by Money My survival is relatively easy but I am supposed to want more than that No matter how difficult survival may be for the swifts they will continue to taunt and delight me during the spring and summer They are Mother Nature s agents in the city Encouraging defection among Money s masses Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on May 12 2013 by Shaun G Post navigation Silence Endangered Landscapes 3 thoughts on Chimney Swifts Chris Clarke May 12 2013 at 5 34 pm Beautiful Reply Shaun G Post author May 12 2013 at 8 18 pm Thank You Reply Meera Lee Sethi June 27 2013 at 1 00 am Catching up with older posts and yes this is so lovely I especially like the images of your wife Reply Leave

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  • Silence | The 'Not Essential' List
    I do not know how to turn these feelings into the words I need to make people see the beauty we are about to lose So I watch the sun set and rise and set again Each time more beautiful than the last Numb to the yelling that rages A violent house that I cannot escape It is my Earth but I have no choice to share it with the ones who do not care I have no choice but to keep trying I want to take you to the Earth s concert a bird cheerily saying farewell to the setting sun from its perch on a creosote bush A riot of color emerging from a sandy plain in the spring I want to explain these things but the words I find are meaningless to the raging shouting match behind me I will keep trying though I promise Share this Email This entry was posted in Uncategorized on February 11 2013 by Shaun G Post navigation Damn Birds Chimney Swifts 3 thoughts on Silence Brian Ertz February 11 2013 at 11 21 pm Cheers Chris thank you Reply Chris Clarke February 12 2013 at 12 45 am Thank you Reply SYLVIA DE ROOY February 14 2013 at 11 22 pm That was so heartbreakingly beautifully said You expressed for me and I m sure many others what I feel about all that s happening Thank you for speaking for me Reply Leave a Reply Cancel reply Search for Recent Posts A Good Defense Is Not Enough Endangered Landscapes Chimney Swifts Silence Damn Birds Recent Comments Shaun G on A Good Defense Is Not Enough Jessie Wych on A Good Defense Is Not Enough tom in joshua tree on A Good Defense Is Not Enough Meera Lee Sethi on Chimney Swifts

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