An Excerpt from “Wolfer: A Memoir”

Here is an excerpt from Carter Niemeyer’s “Wolfer,” a book that is generating a lot of thought and discussion-

From New West. An Excerpt from “Wolfer: A Memoir.” By Carter Niemeyer.

63 Responses to “An Excerpt from “Wolfer: A Memoir””

  1. jon Says:

    Ralph, I heard about this Rick Williamson guy who works for wildlife services. What’s his story? did he like wolves?

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      jon,

      I know Rick Williamson. If other Wildlife Service agents were like him, it would be a better agency. As much as I can tell, he is honest, professional, and also an innovator. I think he tries to do his job without bias.

      I don’t like the agency, but Williamson is OK.

      • Salle Says:

        Rick is an awesome guy, he and Carter worked together in Idaho for years calming down irate ranchers and developing non-lethal management tools for the ranching community. I think Rick does a little ranching himself, he sure knows a lot about animal husbandry and livestock management practices. He has the type of management style I’d be glad to see in the majority of the ranching community – rather than the “they’re just dumb animals mentality”.

        As Ralph said, it would be a really good thing if the rest of WS folks were like him, but that’s not their mission as illustrated in Carter’s book.

        Maybe Rick will write a book after he retires too.

  2. Mtn Mama Says:

    Just finished reading the book and thought it was interesting and well written. I laughed and cried as Carter recounted his experiences with Animal Damage Control. I had a nightmare after reading about his wolf skinning contest. I think that this is an important book for anyone invloved with wolves as it tells both sides of the story. His call to action in the final chapter needs to be read and reiterated by as many people as possible if the senseless killing of wolves by wildlife services is ever to stop.

  3. Chuck Says:

    I have yet to buy Carter’s book, but plan too. One thing that bummed me was to find out after the fact that he was in Boise for a book signing and during that time I was stuck in the hospital for back surgery. I am hoping he will come back for another book signing. Too bad we didn’t have more people still involved with wildlife decisions like Carter and Bob Jackson. These men were cut from a different cloth and conducted their jobs with respect towards all involved.

  4. dailyjacksonhole Says:

    As I said in the last post about this I really thought the book was a good read and thank this blog for pointing me towards it.
    It was very helpful to get a different perspective then I had ever heard or read on not just the wolf issues themselves but also the players on the wolf scene too. While Neimeyer’s perspective and my own are not the same it is nice to hear from the front lines from a source of information who was willing to try to get everyone to work together, I wish it happened more often. It is always helpful to walk, or read what someone elses shoes are like, particularly if you don’t always agree with them.

    I look for wolves everyday for a living and so sometimes find myself jaded on these wolf issues. The book was a great way to see a different point of view

    As he said in the book “Having too many wolves isn’t the problem, nor is having too few. Its not about the parts its the whole. We have to start at what we have in common or nothing can ever get better.”

    I am glad I read it and encourage those with an open mind to read about another perspective, even if it does not match your own.

  5. Immer Treue Says:

    I’m almost done with “Wolfer”, and without going into detail,it’s one of the few books I’ve read in recent years that I did not want to put down. That being said, “Predatory Bureaucracy”, was recommended to me ~3 or 4 years ago, and at the time I just did not want to read another depressing wolf extermination book. Can anybody give a thumbs up or down to “Predatory Bureaucracy” if it would further my understanding, and I stress understanding of ADC WS and politics and money spent/wasted on predator control. Thanks .

    • Mtn Mama Says:

      Immer Treue,
      I give a thumbs up to “Predatory Bureaucracy”. It is not an easy read like “Wolfer” and while you may indeed find it depressing, the facts contained within the pages are useful to any wolf advocate.

      • Immer Treue Says:

        Mtn Mama,

        Thank You

      • WM Says:

        I find the phrase “facts contained with in the pages are useful to any wolf advocate,” to be an oxymoron, as it applies to the book’s author, Michael Robinson. The book is written like his news releases for Center for Biological Diversity, slanted. Just like some of the stuff that comes from the anti’s.

        A critical mind would look for verification of whatever they see in print, especially those who do it for profit, and appeal to a certain audience.

  6. Immer Treue Says:

    Just finished “Wolfer”. The last chapter dealing with the demise of the Whitehawk pack was tough to get through. The quote, “Why did we bring wolves back if all were going to do is kill them” strikes a deep chord. Makes me wonder. Then again, the wolves were already on their way.

    The last paragraph of the book is so important at a time when the loud and the stupid are so profane with their wolf demagoguery. Niemeyer,” All we need are people who are brave enough to think for themselves, and cherish those things that are still truly wild.

    It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that left me melancholy at its’ completion, because I looked so forward to every time I sat to read “Wolfer”. Thanks Carter.

    On a lighter note. Now that I’ve started Tom McGuane’s latest book, it will take a bit of time to adjust from Niemeyer’s spare prose and colloquialisms.

  7. Doryfun Says:

    Quite serendipitously I was recently gifted Niemeyers book, (having first learned about it on this blog awhile back) and just finished reading it. Wow. It was a great read. The writing was outstanding, and I found myself appreciating that aspect about it as much as all the great history, wolf biology/ecology and insight it contained.

    Like Immer, I too put “Predatory Bureaucracy” on the back burner several years ago, knowing it would probably make my blood curdle, having already suspected such corruption long before the book came out. Thanks too, to Mtn Mama for that book review. It also makes Niemeyers book yet another documentation of such agency runamuckery.

    Yes, I’m new here. Having monitored Ralph’s wildlife blogs over the years, this is my first time commenting. So why this wolfer topic to enter in on? In my mind, it represents best of all the core of most major issues. Life in general can be boiled down to pretty simple terms: eat or be eaten. Predator – prey relationships is always the bottom line to everything. All things are food for something else in the circle of life and death, from the microbial level to the corporate one.

    I like meat, so I kill elk and chukars (sometimes, anyway). But I do not kill wolves. Of course, why one animal’s life has any more value than another doesn’t matter to the animal being killed, only people. Ethics can sometimes be a bit nebulous. Though I don’t like the cruel aspect of trapping, who am I to judge the morality of someone else with a different justification for putting food on the table, even if it is a pelt that indirectly buys the food?

    However, I do favor wholeness, respect all forms in nature, and other human opinions. Teachings of the Sioux medicine wheel reveal that an object in the middle of the circle must be viewed from all the various directions to gain enough perspective to reach a better understanding of what that something is or how it works. That is what I liked about Niemeyers book. It gets right to the heart of the monster and a reveals a good picture of the center.

    These days, here in Idaho giving up an elk to have the ability to see a wolf, is worth the price in my worldview, to help appreciate the integrity of a round earth, rather than a flat one. Unfortunately, bio-politics is the name of the game when it comes to fish and wildlife ecology. So, it was good to see Niemeyers exposure of what I long ago suspected of being a bit of brainwashing during my college days aspiring to a career in the wildlife field.

    Early on I questioned some of the long standing tenets of “game management.” But felt too alone and inexperienced, to challenge the establishment. Boiled down, it always precipitates to people, consumption, and our selfish value system. Add to that pot the powerful forces of religion assaulting the animal kingdom based on divine authority and a fantasy of superiority, and the stew thickens.

    Never could, and still can’t, understand the killing machine of bureaucracy favoring corporate/industry in general, and the great burden it places on any kind of positive cultural evolution or enlightenment. If only society really could learn from lessons of the past, and not repeat history. But, we rarely ever do.

    However, even judges , lawyers, and politicians have to live by the laws of nature, unlike the man-made ones which they have powerful influence over in the one sided human world. Unfortunately, while man made laws don’t effect basic natural ones, they do effect how much habitat gets gobbled up and the direction our social values take.

    With feral governors like Otter leading the corporate parade to open the way for transforming highway 12 into an industrial corridor, and his ugly floats representing management schemes for bighorn sheep, anadroumous fish, introduced wolves, and other environmental issues, it appears the parade’s theme will never change.

    As to the question about why bring wolves in if we are just going to kill them? What about elk? Same thing could be said, since they eat cows grass. The bigger picture is not too many wolves, or not enough elk, but rather too many people. Until humans and politics can put on bridal on that, problems will only get worse, not better.

    In the mean time, there might be a glimmer of hope if we can ever get past the self preservation imperative and appreciate that our collective social evolution might grow to a higher level. Philip Appleman said: “At a certain stage of our social development, it becomes possible – indeed essential – for people to see that a more effective conception of self-interest includes wider and wider circles of mutual interest: the nation, the continent, the world. At that stage, we come to understand that our personal well-being is substantially dependent on the well being of people we have never seen and never will.”

  8. Mtn Mamma Says:

    WM,
    What news releases are you reading that are NOT slanted? Your condescending remarks make it clear that you dont like Michael Robinson. Can you suggest a more factual read on Wolf Eradication in the US?
    “A critical mind would look for verification of whatever they see in print”
    – gee really? Guess those simple mtn folks like me are just plain gullible.

    • WM Says:

      Mtn Mamma,

      You are asbsolutely correct. I do not like Robinson’s liberties in his writing, and after reading some of his CBD releases I feel like up-chucking. He is one more source that feeds the fire for the anti wolf folks. Those on the fringe are responsible for creating the environment that fills the coffers of the opposition, and amps up the volume of the disagreement.

      Most recently, the CBD position through Robinson has been the national wolf plan petition to FWS. Great idea in the abstract, and we need a national wolf plan (in my humble opinion), but CBD/Robinson want to withhold delisting of any distinct population segment until a national plan is completed. That would stop cold delisting of the Great Lakes wolves and the NRM wolves, regardless of the scientific evidence of ESA recovery. As you can see that is not selling well with those states that feel they have enough at present.

  9. dailyjacksonhole Says:

    Any thoughts on Vicious: Wolves and Men in America by John T. Coleman? I have been trying to struggle through it for awhile, is it worth it?
    It is here:
    http://www.amazon.com/Vicious-Wolves-America-Western-History/dp/0300119720/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1296084898&sr=1-3

  10. Immer Treue Says:

    Can’t say that I say heard much about this one. The three reviews on Amazon were mixed. Sounds a bit more like an updated of Wolves and Men by Lopez, perhaps with more documentation.

  11. Doryfun Says:

    Yes Jon, I have finally about wore my needle off playing the same ole “population” record over and over. That old adage about everything is a lost cause, if human population is not a first cause, still applies. Not only that, but it applies at an exponential rate, just like the Homo Sapien bio-snowball.

    I was in college back when “zero population” first became the buzz word and Ehrlich was strongly pushing that button. It is hard to fathom how taboo can have such a spell over people, and still amazes me that it gets so little attention anymore. For awhile, the talk of a lot of folks was about the recruitment number of two and restricting family size, but I never here that anymore either.

    Was hoping the new Obama administration that came in on the wings of a seemingly more enlightened aura would get it. In his union speech he said cutting the deficit would be like flying an over loaded airplane by taking out the engine. It may make you feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you feel the impact.

    It would have been a good analogy to our human population, too, and might have been a good place to bring this issue up. But, our leaders continue to promote dreaming the American dream. But, a dream is a dream, and eventually we will wake up, only to find we are nearing death because we didn’t wake up soon enough.

    A friend of mine, a retried biology professor from one of those fancy eastern colleges, wrote a great letter to Obama , addressing this pointed issue, with an array of several other high powered ologists signing on. So at least there are still a few people harping on this.

    But we still fail to adequately factor in the natural economy into the industrial economic equation, so we never get a true picture of the real world. With religion being the fog that permeates everything, most humans won’t assume responsibility for things in this world, when everything can be fixed in the “next one.” By not imposing self regulation, we seem to be content to wait for nature to rule. (which is always the case, anyway). And, like I said before, everything is all about predatory prey relationships. Unfortunately, it is often a most brutal one.

    • jon Says:

      Dory, the thing about this that erks me quite a bit is that no one is willing to talk about it or admit it’s a problem. I know it is and I’m not afraid to say it. The fact is imo, if we don’t start addressing this problem or atleast talk about it, bad things are going to happen like they have been already. It is not going to be good for the non-human species who also inhabit earth. As our population continues to increase and increase and as we add billions more people in the upcoming years, what is this going to be mean wildlife on planet earth? Not good.

      • jon Says:

        I think people are afraid to talk about this issue because they are afraid they are going to be called a lunatic, but it’s a very real issue and a very real problem. Our population continuing to grow and add billions of people every few years will spell doom for other species on earth. That much is I’m pretty certain of. it’s funny because we always talk about the need to control animal populations when our #s are by far causing many more problems than theirs are, but again, many people want to act like there being 7 billion people is not a problem.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        Not to worry. Like wolves and the boom and bust cycle, the human population will reach a level where there will either be a huge die off due to disease or famine. Once lack of food hits, only the strongest survive…Natural selection at its finest.

    • Alan Says:

      “.. But, our leaders continue to promote dreaming the American dream. But, a dream is a dream, and eventually we will wake up….”
      Remember that old movie, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”? A reporter is writing a story about a famous Congressman (Jimmy Stewart) who reportedly launched his political career after shooting a notorious bad guy (Lee Marvin), only to discover that it wasn’t Stewart who shot Marvin at all, it was tough guy John Wayne. The reporter tears up his notes and says (to the effect), “When the lie becomes legend, you print the legend.”
      Jimmy Carter tried that whole, “The American people are tough and can handle the truth,” routine. We all know what happened to him. Ronald Reagan was famous for saying, “Tear down that wall, Mr. Gorbachev,” when he should be equally famous for saying, “Tear down those solar panels, Mr. Edwards” (then Energy Secretary, James B. Edwards)! The American people simply don’t handle the truth very well.
      Cut taxes, have 4 or 5 kids, pollute the air and water, turn on every light in the house, take a vacation in your 40 foot motor home, run your ATV’s over every last piece of God’s green earth and bitch and moan. It’s the American way!

  12. Doryfun Says:

    Jon,
    Just went to your links on pop. Thank you for that. I found it a bit ironic:
    “Professor Fenner is the man who helped eradicate smallpox. According to Our Compass, Fenner told The Australian Newspaper that the human race will be unable to survive a population explosion and ‘unbridled consumption.’
    One of natures’s controls is disease, so while on the one hand he warns us to control our own numbers, on the other he has helped make the problem more difficult to solve. It is a hard way to save ourselves from ourselves. Part of the human comedy, I guess.

    • Salle Says:

      Here, here! I have been making the same arguments about human regulation, as opposed to try to control nature in general and wildlife in particular.

      A tragic comedy.

      Have to agree with the above statements but would elaborate a little more… It would appear that in our fear of death we have concocted a formula to speed up the demise of our species in an effort to eliminate what we call suffering. Medical science is now keeping alive many who would have expired at a much earlier date and to much less expense. It may sound callous to some but when you think about the fact that we are all going to expire at some point, why do we spend so much resource and human capital on prolonging suffering and scant examples of “life” for those who never see the outside of a hospital or the like and insist on killing off anything that resembles nature?

      Man wants control over nature and everything else, if we can;t control it, kill it. It seems to be the mantra these days. Humans contribute little to the rest of the living organisms in the biosphere, instead we adopt a rationale where-by we dominate everything and that we are the only entity that matters on the planet. And as soon as we trash this planet, we are planning to find another one to trash.

      It’s the biosphere, without it being healthy, we can’t survive. But then maybe it’s a matter where the general subconscious consensus is the concept that if we can’t control everything and, thus, “save” ourselves – as a species – then we’ll take everything with us and nothing will be left to outlive us.

      • wolf moderate Says:

        “It may sound callous to some but when you think about the fact that we are all going to expire at some point, why do we spend so much resource and human capital on prolonging suffering and scant examples of “life” for those who never see the outside of a hospital or the like and insist on killing off anything that resembles nature?”

        DEATH PANELS!!! I forwarded this to Sarah Palin, Michelle Bauchman and Glenn Beck. Be forwarned.

      • WM Says:

        A number of years ago three term Democrat Governor of Colorado, Richard Lamm, a futurist, said – “We (old people) have a duty to die.” From then to now the life span of Americans and others across the world has continued to lengthen as the medical profession and the drug companies find ways of keeping us alive at great cost (regardless of quality of life) longer and longer. Maybe Lamm was right, afterall.
        _________

        By the way, Lamm (who I admire, and for whom I served on several advisory committees during his governorship) took alot of heat for that statement at the time. I wonder if he feels the same about this, as his own mortality becomes apparent nearing his 80th birthday.

        Having put my father in hospice care last week, but knowing we could have prolonged his life with intervention (but against his wishes), this difficult question has become very focused me.

      • WM Says:

        ..focused for me.

      • jon Says:

        Sorry to hear about ya dad wm.

  13. Immer Treue Says:

    Two things:
    1. Not to start an argument, I don’t want it to go there, but about 20 years ago I went to my first and only Sierra Club meeting with a friend who was writing for a small local newspaper. A guest demographer from the government was the speaker and his presentation was about zero population growth. He cited some of the European countries that were at zero, or just below, and then came to the U.S. He said our population was growing, but that zero population growth could be attainable except for, and here comes the bomb, illegal immigration, and he said if we don’t curb it, the U.S. would begin exponential growth. Needless to say he was derided, called a racist… I’ve not looked at U.S. growth rates lately, but I would imagine we are far above zero growth.

    What that really woke up in me was how fortunate I was to be born in the United States, a place where even with some of the bungling I’ve done in my life, I always took advantage of that second chance. Many places in the world you don’t even get that first chance. The accident of where we were born allows us to look at the world population in a way that is abstract to most of the world’s population.

    2. WM, both my empathy and sympathy. My mother has been slowly eroding with Alzheimer’s disease in a care facility for the past three years. It is mind addling observing what these people are going through, not to mention others who are in a type of anguish we can only imagine.

    I’ve always thought it irony in it’s extreme when we put our pets down because it’s the “humane” thing to do, yet we keep out loved ones alive to the bitter bloody end.

  14. PointsWest Says:

    Nearly every large country in the world will end up like China where it is overpopulated with hundreds of millions of people at or below subsistence level. Even with modernization, most Chinese are still at or below subsistance level where they must work 10-hour days, 6 or 7 days a week, just to keep food in their mouth and clothes on thier back.

    Many countries will try China’s one-child policy where it is illegal to have more than one child. This will never work in some parts of the world where people put faith in God for salvation. Even China might find its population turning to a religion, such as Christianity, which might lead to a revolution and a destruction of the one-child policy. There is no stopping the population boom.

    The best we can do is preserve as much of the world as possible including most of the species of plants and animals. We will have a human population collapse but I think it will go something like this. We will get huge slums in all of the great cities of the world. The Dharavi slum in Mumbai, India is a good example created by India’s conservative government. Slums like South Central here in LA will get much worse as the country continues on our conservative path. After about half of the world’s population is living at subsistance level in slums, some shortage or disaster will come along to significantly disrupt the world economy so that even people well above subsistance level will find that they are barely able to feed themselves puting something like 80% of the world’s population at subsistance level and in something like a slum condition. Then, with poor living condition and an a wholely inadequate healthcare systems in the world’s slums where the vast majority of people live, pandemics will begin sweeping through the population. The diseases will come out of nowhere and, with air travel by the elite, the pandemic will be world wide and will kill half of the slum dwellers in the first year. More pandemics will follow and when the pandemics finally end a decade or so later, the world population will be cut by two thirds or maybe even more if there is world wide economic collapse along with the pandemics.

    After this calamity, people will not put their faith in God and governments of the world will control population. But until we actually have the calamity, I think there is little chance of getting people to accept a one or two child policy as long as they can simply proclaim that they understand God, and that he will not let anything bad happen to us.

    This is why I think it is so important to try and preserve wildlife. There is no reason why we need to destroy our wildlife because it takes a calamity to shake our faith in God. I think we should be freezing tissue of each species too because it is also inevitible that we humans will take kill off about half the species with our calamity.

    • Daniel Berg Says:

      PW,
      I don’t see how rampant population growth can be attributed to any one political party. It’s not just a “conservative” issue. Both parties support different policies that inevitably promote population growth in one form or another. Capitalism almost requires population growth as a sustaining mechanism.

      As important as this issue is, It seems that 9 out of 10 people would rather not seriously discuss it. It’s an upleasant topic.

      From a wildlife perspective, I like to see as much of the western landscape preserved as possible because there are opportunities to do that now that won’t be available in 30 or 40 years if rampant population growth continues. That’s not to say that a future government couldn’t open it right back up to development, but the attempt is worth making.

      • PointsWest Says:

        I did not and do not attribute rampant population growth to conservatives. I attribute it to denial that is thinly veiled as faith in God. It is the lower classes, who are Democrates in this country, who have the highest birth rates. I am only pointing out that as overpopulation becomes more of a problem, the upper classes, conservatives in this country, will use their wealth and superior political power to force the lower classes into slums. I think you are seeing it starting to happen now. Conservatives just want to force the lower classes into slums without hope, health, or anything more that bare subsistance because they do not want the increasing tax burden. It is already happened in more densly populated countries such as India. I am not blaming a political party. I am only describing what I see.

    • Ralph Maughan Says:

      There is a relatively effective population limitation policy now in effect, although it is completely unintentional. It is the terrible economic conditions for middle and working class Americans.

      Poor people in traditionally poor countries respond by having more children. America’s mass of newly poor and those who think they will soon join them respond by not having children.

      • WM Says:

        Ralph,

        ++respond by not having children++

        Nonetheless, there are those who continue to have children without factoring in the economic consequences. I have spent the last 10 days (visiting my elderly father) at Yakima Memorial Hospital one of two regional facilities that serve a good portion of Eastern WA. As I have said here before, there is a large and growing illegal immigrant population (uneducate and untrained except the most basic agricultural skills) in this area. It is a magnet, since the family infrastructure is in place from those illegals who arrived before, and there are some seasonal jobs available, and some drug related revenues from the underground economy.

        Have a kid on US soil (better than country of origin for benefit entitlements and a future), and this anchor baby who is a US citizen by virtue of place of birth makes it tougher to send the illegal parent(s) back.

        I have ties to the legal and medical communities here, and learned that illegals who present themselves to an emergency room for care, or for hospitalization cannot be turned away (same is true of ability to pay for those legally here).

        The two Yakima hospitals are at capacity, and have been for the last two months. Physicians are being asked to discharge patients, sometimes before treatment is complete and good medical care would dictate, so that new patients in need of care can be admitted. The unfortunate consequence of this is that illegals are sometimes displacing US citizens (often those who pay fully for their medical care) from these hospital beds. There are no overflow facilities. The medical staffs – doctors, nurses, assistants, therapists – are stretched incredibly thin to cover the cost gap, which means the quality of medical care suffers, and morale is low among caregivers. I spoke with several medical people employed at the hospital who will tell you this very quietly because they fear the social stigma (political correctness) of speaking openly.

        These are difficult humanitarian – cost allocation political and economic issues. I should also mention one the largest high schools in Yakima is now over 40% hispanic; twenty years ago it was less than 10%. The percentage will increase even more over the next 10 years. The entire valley is rampant with gang activity, to the point that there is special consideration of this problem in the current legislature. I have sort of reached the conclusion that I really don’t care if I am politically correct. These are statistics and if people don’t like the face of reality I could care less. It is going to get worse.

      • Daniel Berg Says:

        WM,

        I know this is not relevant, but is it Davis High School that you are referring to? I spent a lot of time down in Yakima while I was in college up in Ellensburg.

        “The Palm Springs of Washington”

      • Immer Treue Says:

        Sorry to be redundant, but to repeat from a recent post above that adds support to WM.

        Not to start an argument, I don’t want it to go there, but about 20 years ago I went to my first and only Sierra Club meeting with a friend who was writing for a small local newspaper. A guest demographer from the government was the speaker and his presentation was about zero population growth. He cited some of the European countries that were at zero, or just below, and then came to the U.S. He said our population was growing, but that zero population growth could be attainable except for, and here comes the bomb, illegal immigration, and he said if we don’t curb it, the U.S. would begin exponential growth. Needless to say he was derided, called a racist… I’ve not looked at U.S. growth rates lately, but I would imagine we are far above zero growth.

        People who have come from nothing, work their asses off, and are rich compared to where they came from. However, they do have children and have many. Education is really not stressed, many older children have to take care of their younger siblings, and as they become “Americanized” don’t have the work ethic of their parents, thus becoming an added burden on the education, legal and health institutions in the country.

        This is all symptomatic of a world population growing out of control. And the wolves think they have problems.

      • WM Says:

        Immer,

        Thank you for you condolences (jon, too), regarding your earlier post. My father also had Alzheimer’s/senile dementia, so I empathize with you and the condition of your ailing mother – these are insideous diseases.

        Regarding your comment about Sierra Club, you may be interested to know former CO Governor Lamm sought a seat on the Sierra Club Board campaigning on the issue of population growth – including that specifically caused by illegal immigration and the very high birth rate that accompanies a young population steeped in the virtues of the Catholic faith (many children that God will take care of no matter what). The issue was too controversial for Sierra Club, notwithstanding the fact that the effects of adding another 10-15 million people with the added fecundity in that group is accelerating envirnomental problems in the US in several ways.

        http://www.newcomm.org/reports/hostiletakeover.pdf

        I find it dispicable that environmental organizations like Sierra Club and Defenders will not engage on the really big issues. They would rather put out their cutsie, pictured glossy color magazines than deal with the gritty side of environmental problems. It doesn’t bring in the big bucks from their membership base to support those high salaries of their upper tier managers and Exec. Directors.

      • Daniel Berg Says:

        I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to read this type of discussion every once in a while. Population growth and its effect on the environment & overall quality of life is something that I’ve thought about a lot. Unfortunately, anyone who brings this issue up in the public arena gets shouted down by the many frauds of altruism.

        It’s such a touchy subject and it’s difficult to not get drug into discussions involving god, racism, and empathy when bringing it up.

      • PointsWest Says:

        Ralph writes: “Poor people in traditionally poor countries respond by having more children. America’s mass of newly poor and those who think they will soon join them respond by not having children.”

        I think when there is overcrowding and poverty, you get a breakdown of the family. In South Central LA, girls are knocked up by the age of 17 and have children from three different men by the age of 25. Young men have little interest in fatherhood and turn to drugs, crime, violence, and gangs. The kids of single mothers run wild, are dicipline problems in school, and have a difficult time holding jobs after high school.

        I think people not familiar with Los Angeles would be surprized at how much of Los Angeles is considered South Central LA. Of the actual City of LA, nearly half is South Central LA and is dangerous to be in after dark. Parts are not safe even in the daylight…especially if you are anglo. I was in South Central just a few days ago buying a used lawn mower and was nervouse just getting out of my truck there. I know people who will drive around (not easy to do) rather than through South Central at night. In fact this is common.

        I think life was improving in South Cental due to the liberal governmental policies in California. The programs were working. We are at a crossroads now, however, and I think we will give up hope in the comming decade and allow South Central turn into a third-world slum along with many other poor urban areas in American cities.

        This financial crisis we just went through had nothing to do with the urban poor but conservatives are blaming it all onto them and have used this financial crisis as an excuse to cut social programs and to opress in the name of lower taxes. Maybe things will return to normal and the conservatives will fail but some other crisis will come along and next time they will succeed and we’ll be well on our way to being like South America or India…part of the third world. Conservatives will not be happy until blacks and hispanics are in slums (period). There has been an element in every society that wants to opress large portions of their society. You can look all through history. It is so much worse here becuase of the different races. It can simply be based on race.

        In the Roman Empire you had the patricians (wealthy) and the plebeians (poor). The patricians had superior political rights and opressed the plebeians who were the majority. No one is even sure where this divide came from. They were all people from the Italian Peninsula. It was not race. I don’t know, there is something about humans living in large urban centers where this opression always comes up. I think in the US, where we have the racial divide, this opression is going to get to be terrible. I don’t even like to think about it.

  15. wolf moderate Says:

    ” the pandemic will be world wide and will kill half of the slum dwellers in the first year.”. Some good light-hearted reading this morning🙂 All is true it seems however. Oh well. Hopefully Dec 2012 will come around and relieve the world of much of the human population so that other species may thrive!

  16. wolf moderate Says:

    yes

  17. Doryfun Says:

    Without having updated myself to the most recent population findings, I recall that for some time now, the US population has continued to increase, but at a decreasing rate. However, that does not include immigration. Indeed, you are right on, Immer, that immigration is a huge factor. Not to worry about starting an arugument.

    Just because one rocognizes what is putting stress on limits,or the desire to control those limits, does not necessarily make one a racist or bigot. A football team can only play 11 players at a time and gets penalized when more than that number gets on the field. Unfortunately, the penalty for too many people on the planet is far more serious. And igonring how much religion (or immigration) plays in to all of this, is like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand. It might quell fear, but it won’t keep the lion from taking a bite out of your exposure.

    In “Human Impact on Ancient Environments” by famed Harvard educated anthropollists Charles Redman, are some interesting lessons on environmental problems. To quote: “There is no absolute when one refers to the natural state of the environment….The human role is an old one wherein most environments, as we know them, have developed under pressures created by the presence of humans.” He goes on to say (having studied most every culture since the beginning of man; if you believe in evolution, anyway) – that in every case, each civiliation has eventually exceeded its own carrying capacity and been its own demise. How this normally came about, is that the elite gained power and exercised control by developing belief systems (religion) to control the masses. The masses then willingly (and largely unquestioningly) followed the leaders. But when things began to go awry and they told leaders the land could produce no more, (carrying capacity about to be reached) the elite (unlike those living on and in touch with the land, became out of touch with reality), ignored the warnings. So they continued to make decisions that could not be supported on the ground, and disaster always followed.

    By the way, there have really ever been only two Super Powers in the world. Rome and the USA. Furthermore, all major cultures have always believed they would last for ever. So far, historically none ever have. The “Fall of Rome” seems quite appropriate to describe our human plight on the planet.

    Yes, we all have loved ones nearing the end, (my sympathies added here, too) and probably we all personally would like to live longer. After all, it is such a short time we have on this planet. So it is only human to want to be human as long as we can. More importantly, is seems a better goal to try and figure out how less in total global number can be arrived at to help enjoy more quality of our time here.

    Ironically, there doesn’t seem to be enough of us humans to influence the elites and the masses, significanly enough to make our destiny a little more peaceful along the way. I have pretty much given up in thinking our culture (or any culture) will ever learn from the past and be able to make better decisions (towards less suffering) for the future. Nature rules, harshly, but truly.

    • Salle Says:

      I have to agree with Charles Redman about population stresses and religion in particular. But I have pondered this set of problems for decades and would, based on my experience and education in anthropology, make the claim that it appears to be human nature as well.

      In America we have quite the advertising propaganda campaign that is intended to show the world how we are better than they and that they should strive to be like us if they cannot be us. So what would you do if you were told of some heavenly place on earth where you too, according to the propaganda, could be free of the oppression you endure wherever it is that you are currently? A better life, freedom of religion, a chance to be your own person and make your own decisions, etc…. can’t blame others for wanting that too.

      Religion appears to be the great controlling device of mankind, nothing needs to be proven if you believe… Thus, empowerment of those who can tell the best, most believable story which is basically a story of why those tellers should be in power and in control of everyone else.

      Since most are told that it is a god-given right to go forth and multiply in mass quantities… how are we supposed to change that thinking? And the one about man being the steward of all other living things on the planet?

      It is also evidenced by many studies that those who are educated usually have fewer children, those who are less educated have more offspring, doesn’t designate by race though religion and education seem to be factors. If you target varieties of humans rather than acquired knowledge of the overall population, you risk inserting bias that is going to defeat the findings in any inquiry. In anthropology humans are considered one race with a vast variety of qualities, race isn’t a factor, only in religion and politics – which can and usually is directed by religion – does race come up as a divisive element or an attribute of “otherness”. It’s unfortunate that race comes up here as identification of a problem group… I would suggest that this argument is made out of fear of the other and most assuredly a fear of death and lacking acknowledgment of one’s life (this desire for acknowledgment is merely a social construction and does not exist in the natural world outside of the human realm which appears to be the cause of the “control-freak” issues of our species). But then, do all the wild animals care whether they have made incredible inventions or made a dent in the world or acknowledgment of their so-called accomplishments? I’m waiting to see if there are any examples.

  18. Doryfun Says:

    Salle,

    I don’t think identifiying immigation as a big factor is the same thing as saying race is a big factor. While it may be true a lot of the numbers within the immigration universe have brown skin rather than some other color, doesn’t change the number of total immigrants.
    Beside, resent science shows race is a misnomer and something we should be throwing out with the bath water, as we humans are too much the same to use” race” anymore as a way to identify “otherness.”

    As far as some examples, I’m guessing chimps and apes might have enough mental prowess to appreciate some form of abstract thinking, too. Possibly (??)primates can appreciate their use of tools.

    We humans are often too arrogant to give any kind of animal any more credit for more than being simply an organism of sensory perception.

    Probably part of the reason chimps shake their heads sideway and smile at the same time to us humans. If only we could communicate. Feeble humor here.

  19. Doryfun Says:

    Regarding Immigration and Religion. I am very aware of how we “won the west” and thought you all might enjoy an interesting observation/quote from Desmond M. Tutu. “There is a story, which is fairly well known, about when the missionaries came to Africa. They had the Bible and we, the natives, had the land. They said “Let us pray,” and we dutifully shut our eyes. When we opened them, why, they now had the land and we had the Bible.

    • PointsWest Says:

      I have been agnostic nearly all my life. I grew up Mormon. For awhile, I loved science and despised religion. I too believed religion was largely a way for leaders to control people. I do not believe that now. I now view religion more like an adjunct to language. It is simply a means for people to communcate abstract and deeply emotional thoughts and feelings. It is a way to communicate about our basic needs such as the need for compassion and love and about the human heart. Religion is about myth and symbols and deeply moving stories to help people find peace and joy in life. It is to help them blossem as a human being and to not behave like an animal.

      It is certainly true that leaders try and use religion to further their agenda of control or their impulse to dominate. People are always latching onto God, Heaven, Satan, the Quran, angles, profits, etc. to try and motivate other people or society and to bend to thier will. They use religion for purposes of control but they also use language and writing and body language and carefully crafted video that combine all forms of communication. So is language and writing bad because leaders have used them to control people?

      Some say most wars have been fought over religion. I could make a good case that most wars are fought over language. What are the chances the US will go to war with Canada or Great Brittain? World War Two, the largest war in history, was largely Christians at war with other Christians.

      I simply believe large scale problems such as global warming or overpopulation are nearly impossible to solve because few individuals are willing to make a sacrafice as long as they can deny the problem. We have politicians who will play on this denial and try and win political favor by telling people what they want to hear. Some will tell people that global warming is not real and some will tell people that we need not worry about overpopulaiton because peopling the earth is part of God’s plan. These are rationalizations, tricks of the mind so people can behave like children or chimps and not delay immediate gratification.

      There is little doubt my mind that nothing will be done about global warming until it seriously disrupts American’s lives. It is largely an American problem where we combust most of the fossil fuels. The same is true for overpopulation. Nothing will be done about it until some great calamity disrupts people lives…world wide in this case. I think more responsible people should simply prepare for an overpopulaiton crisis. We should try and preserve as much wild habitat as possibe and try and preserve as many species as possible…for our descendents a couple of centuries in the future.

      • Salle Says:

        It is to help them blossem as a human being and to not behave like an animal.

        That concept, in a nutshell, is one of the big problems. Animals are considered “others” and we should not be like them. Why? Because they require the state of nature to thrive and we can’t just have wild animals running wild in the wilderness after all. they need to be controlled, just like people need to be controlled to make the world a better place for those who rule them, that being other humans who feel superior to everyone else… “others”.

        If we knew how to and what respect is, the world would be a better place for all living things if we knew how to apply respect ~ to our daily activities.

        The majority of world powers have determined that the biblical god is irrelevant and that the almighty dollar is now the new god. Until that rationale is changed, in practice, it’s only going to get worse for the 6.85 billion of us who aren’t filthy rich.

      • skyrim Says:

        “When they lose their sense of awe,
        people turn to religion.
        When they no longer trust themselves,
        they begin to depend upon authority.” ~Tao Te Ching

  20. Mtn Mama Says:

    Since this original post was about book reviews and switched to overpopulation by humans, may I suggest “THE FUTURE OF LIFE” by Edward O. Wilson. for those who havent already read it.
    *Mother of 2, raising the earth’s future conservationist… they will be needed.

  21. Doryfun Says:

    Mtn Mama
    I was thinking the same thing yesterday as I was hunting chukars with my two Weimaraners – how easy it is to get side tracked in the blogosphere. Was wondering if Niemeyer might curiously be reading this blog about his book, scratching his head and thinking wtf happened.

    However, I ran into a trapper coming in from making coyote and bobcat sets, so visited with him to be sure I kept my dogs out of his area. Two of my dogs have already felt the jaws of those damn things on previous hunts. Anyway, I also told him I didn’t want to mess his area up with my scent, (trying to be mutually respectful here), as I recently learned about such concerns, in Neimeyers book.

    So you never know where the weight of ideas learned from books might land or the ripple effect they have. But, a tangent from his book did lead me to the population thing, and again I was reminded of this as I talked to the trapper. Two weeks before, another trapper (neither was aware of the other) set a line in the same place. Damn. Now I have to worry more about where not to hunt. As more and more private land gets posted, along with an influx of trappers on public lands, pressure between user groups gets all the more complicated. All are repercussions of the rising tide of humans.

    But, yes, Mtn Mama, I have read about 4 of Wilsons books, including the one you suggest. It indeed is a good call to arms for our planet. Another good book along these lines is “Living Within Limites – Ecology, Economics, and Populatlion Taboos” – by Garrett Hardin.

    As for your kids, they might also like Wilsons book about ants. Apparently, we humans don’t hold a candle to the ruthlessness of ants, and their social structure is fascinating. Did you know that if you add up the weight off all ants in the world, it is more than the total of all human biomass? Oops, another tangent.

    • skyrim Says:

      “Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment. They farm fungi, raise aphids as livestock, launch armies into war, use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves, engage in child labor, exchange information ceaselessly. They do everything but watch television.”
      Lewis Thomas

  22. Doryfun Says:

    Points West

    Agnostic here, too, with leanings towards naturalism,/spiritualism. Although, while I agree somewhat with your assessment of religion, I don’t believe it is needed to access all the things you mentioned. And I still maintain that organized religious fundamentalism is a basic cause of most of the ills in the world and tool used by those trying to gain control over others.

    Regarding religion as an adjunct to language, have your ever read: “The Spell of The Sensuous” – by David Abram? It is quite interesting and relates to that which you speak. A quote: “He explores the character of perception and excavates the sensual foundations of language, which – even at its most abstract – echoes the calls and cries of the earth.”

    While we can do what we can about conserving wildlife habitat, (as you suggest) and agree it takes a fire to get the water flowing, but whenever possible we should also crank into the political machinery ideas about how to control our own numbers. ie – like tax incentives, since money seems to always be the bottom line to anything. Borrowing a line from Cadillac Desert: “water flows uphill towards money.”

  23. Doryfun Says:

    Salle,

    Talking books here, as you are an experienced anthropologist, have you ever read: “After the Ice – A Global Human History , 20000 – 5000BC” by Steven Mithen? Very interesting. Great read.

    I agree with much of what you say about propaganda, religion, and human nature. Indeed the victor writes the history, true or not, hugely slanted at best, and used for control purposes. So it is also part of our human nature to question everything (normally a minority of course), rather than follow our nose up the posterior end of the sheep in front of us. I have a fear of heights, when it comes to getting too close to the edge of the cliff and the sheep in front of me is free falling through the air.


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