Archive | March 2015

Emperor Walker Wearing No Clothes When It Comes to Wisconsin’s Natural Resources

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Actually, this emperor has no clothes.

Wisconsin citizens have got to realize that Wisconsin’s governor has not had the best interests of the state at heart when it comes to natural resources issues, including the effects of rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere’s significance to Wisconsin’s natural, economic and human resources in the absence of timely action by their governmental officials.

This politician looks only ahead to the next election. Our part-time governor has his attention turned to Iowa, New Hampshire and any road leading to Washington, D.C.

His tracks are the proposed budget that will leave scars on the state.

For a state with the legacy of people like Aldo Leopold, John Muir, Gaylord Nelson, and Warren Knowles, it is an embarrassment that Gov. Walker would submit a budget that:

• Strips the Natural Resources board of its authority, making it advisory only to the DNR – leaving all decisions up to the DNR secretary;
• Eliminates 18 research scientists from the DNR Sciences Services Bureau;
• Eliminates environmental education programs;
• Places a moratorium on land buying through the Stewardship Fund.

The problem is that politicians care about money brought into their campaigns, and getting re-elected.

That is why the Natural Resources Board was established originally: to keep natural resources governance at arm’s length from politicians. The NRB (citizens who in the past came together to put natural interests foremost), can make decisions taking into account biological and sociological information.

The NRB was also charged with hiring a DNR secretary, but Tommy Thompson and Jim Doyle looked to their self-interest and changed a system that worked well since 1927.

Now Scott Walker has manipulated the system, put politicians in charge of the DNR, silenced scientists, and changed agency priorities from natural resource protection to job creation.

How long can people who hunt, fish, trap, bird watch, hike, camp, and enjoy the state’s scenery, sit on their hands while the governor trashes our state?

Source: original article by Tim Eisele, Wisconsin Outdoor News, February 28, 2015

Note: “Emperor’s New Clothes” is an old children’s story by Hans Christian Andersen about an emperor who pays a lot of money for some new magic clothes which can only be seen by wise people. The clothes do not really exist, but the emperor does not admit he cannot see them, because he does not want to seem stupid. Everyone else pretends to see the clothes too, until a child shouts, “The Emperor has no clothes on!”

Need for a Land Ethic: The Aldo Leopold Legacy

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“The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.”- Aldo Leopold

Published in 1949 as the finale to his book “A Sand County Almanac”, Leopold’s “land ethic” defined a new relationship between people and nature and set the stage for the modern conservation movement.

Leopold understood that ethics direct individuals to cooperate with each other for the mutual benefit of all. One of his philosophical achievements was the idea that this ‘community’ should be enlarged to include non-human elements such as soils, waters, weather, plants, and animals, “or collectively: the land.”

“That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics”, he said.  This recognition, according to Leopold, implies individuals play an important role in protecting and preserving the health of this expanded definition of a community.

“A land ethic, then, reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of land”, Leopold said. Central to Leopold’s philosophy is the assertion to “quit thinking about decent land use as solely an economic problem.” While recognizing the influence economics have on decisions, Leopold understood that ultimately, our economic well being could not be separated from the well being of our environment. Therefore, he believed it was critical that people have a close personal connection to the land.

“We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in”, he said.

Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac” has prompted generations of people to take better notice – and care – of the natural environment. Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887 – April 21, 1948)  was the first research director at the University of Wisconsin Madison Arboretum and was closely involved in its design.

Madison Reads Leopold begins at 9:30 am at the Arboretum this Saturday, March 7, 2015 and is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be available in the visitor center lobby. Brown-bagging is permitted but food must remain in the Visitor Center.

Madison Reads Leopold is a community celebration organized for to celebrate the life and legacy of Aldo Leopold and is sponsored by the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

The name “Aldo Leopold Weekend” has its roots in Wisconsin, where it is held annually the first full weekend of March has that official designation and Wisconsin communities across the state coordinate events that all happen at the same time. Leopold-themed events have spread far beyond the borders of Wisconsin since the event’s inception in 2000, and are now celebrated across the nation in various ways and at various times throughout the year!  Events planned for the Madison celebration include a showing of the Green Fire film., an excellent documentary on the history of the environmental movement in the United States. At the Madison UW Arboretum  there will also be readings from “A Sand County Almanac”, Leopold bench building workshops, round table discussions followed by hikes through the Arboretum itself.  In short, lots of great things! The event in Madison is scheduled to go to 4 PM Saturday.

Find an event near you!

Study Finds 4,000 Lynchings in Jim Crow South

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A new report has uncovered shocking details about the history of lynchings in the United States and their legacy today. After five years of exhaustive research and interviews with local historians and descendants of lynching victims, the Equal Justice Initiative found white Southerners lynched nearly 4,000 black men, women and children between 1877 and 1950 — a total far higher than previously known.

The report details a 1916 attack in which a mob lynched Jeff Brown for accidentally bumping into a white girl as he ran to catch a train. In an example from 1940, a crowd lynched Jesse Thornton for not addressing a white police officer as “mister.”

In many cases, the lynchings were attended by the entire white community in an area. The Equal Justice Initiative’s (EJI) “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror” documents EJI’s multi-year investigation into lynching in twelve Southern states during the period between the Reconstruction and World War II. EJI researchers documented 3959 racial terror lynchings of African Americans in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia between 1877 and 1950 – at least 700 more lynchings of black people in these states than previously reported in the most comprehensive work done on lynching to date.

Lynching in America makes the case that lynching of African Americans was terrorism, a widely supported phenomenon used to enforce racial subordination and segregation. Lynchings were violent and public events that traumatized black people throughout the country and were largely tolerated by state and federal officials. This was not “frontier justice” carried out by a few marginalized vigilantes or extremists. Instead, many African Americans who were never accused of any crime were tortured and murdered in front of picnicking spectators (including elected officials and prominent citizens) for bumping into a white person, or wearing their military uniforms after World War I, or not using the appropriate title when addressing a white person. People who participated in lynchings were celebrated and acted with impunity. Not a single white person was convicted of murder for lynching a black person in America during this period.

The report explores the ways in which lynching profoundly impacted race relations in this country and shaped the contemporary geographic, political, social, and economic conditions of African Americans. Most importantly, lynching reinforced a narrative of racial difference and a legacy of racial inequality that is readily apparent in our criminal justice system today. Mass incarceration, racially biased capital punishment, excessive sentencing, disproportionate sentencing of racial minorities, and police abuse of people of color reveal problems in American society that were shaped by the terror era.

No prominent public memorial or monument commemorates the thousands of African Americans who were lynched in America. Lynching in America argues that is a powerful statement about our failure to value the black lives lost in this brutal campaign of racial violence. Research on mass violence, trauma, and transitional justice underscores the urgent need to engage in public conversations about racial history that begin a process of truth and reconciliation in this country.

“We cannot heal the deep wounds inflicted during the era of racial terrorism until we tell the truth about it,” said EJI Director Bryan Stevenson. “The geographic, political, economic, and social consequences of decades of terror lynchings can still be seen in many communities today and the damage created by lynching needs to be confronted and discussed. Only then can we meaningfully address the contemporary problems that are lynching’s legacy.” Report Summary

Hear famous jazz singer Billey Holiday sing “Strange Fruit”.