Typically, environmentalists have conservationist views – in general, they advocate for the preservation, restoration, or enhancement of the natural environment. I view myself and many of the landowners I know as the true activist environmentalists and hard core conservationists. I am going to take a few moments to explain how we can support the development of our natural resources, namely natural gas, and still be responsible stewards of our lands.
What is an Environmentalist?
Dictionary.com defines the term environmentalist as follows:
1. an expert on environmental problems.2. any person who advocates or works to protect the air, water, animals, plants, and other natural resources from pollution or its effects.
If you know me and have access to my Facebook page, you can see many of my photos, most of which are of outdoor activities from the northern Adirondacks to the furthest points in south of Florida. I am an avid hunter and fisherman, purchasing game licenses in two states every year. Many of you, who do not hunt, may not realize the money from the licenses goes back to protecting and enhancing the habitat of the areas, and is just one of many ways sportsmen and women help to keep the land we love enjoyable for future generations.
My commitment to protect the environment does not end there. I do my part to conserve my own land by enforcing strict hunting and trapping rules. If a person has permission to hunt on my land they are briefed on the rules. If they are a bowhunter, I like to know their abilities. A novice is only allowed a 20 yard shot and no hunting on rainy days. I do not want to see an animal shot that can’t be tracked. If it’s a trapper on my land, traps must be checked twice a day by law. We also maintain dedicated ATV trails and camping areas.
My house here in the northeast is mostly glass, allowing full view of the seasons and wildlife. If you have perused my online pictures, it does not take long to see the enjoyment my family and I receive from observing all types of wildlife, plants, and trees.
My house in the south is located in a jungle complete with snakes, giant spiders, lizards and huge land crabs. When I find a snake in my yard I don’t kill it. I may put it in a bag and move it to a safe location. The same goes for my land here in the north. I have raccoons that love to get in my garbage, so I bungee the tops down.
My point is, we support natural gas development and we love our land and respect it, and are doing our best to co-exist with the habitat around us. It is possible and common for individuals to be both natural gas supporters and environmentalists, and I am proud to be just one of many.
Impact of Harvesting Other Energies on Our Land and Wildlife
I am a strong advocate of drilling for natural gas on private land given the very negative environmental impacts of other alternate energy harvesting. These impacts are not trivial, but, rather, substantial and this is before considering the kinds of things Cris Pasto discussed on these pages a few weeks back.
Let’s take a brief look at solar. When they build large solar farms that take up hundreds or thousands of acres, they have to trans-locate the wildlife and rare plants, taking indigenous wildlife and moving them to a new location.
Here is just one example where alternative energy development has had a dramatic on the natural environment, habitat and valuable species. Are to pretend these impacts do not exist in our ideologically driven pursuit of alternative energy schemes that soothe the consciences of those thinking with their hearts rather than their heads.
According to one biologist, the results of the trans-location of 158 tortoises from Fort Irwin resulted in 49% mortality in within months of trans-location in 2008, and this year alone 11.6% of the remaining tortoises have died.
As for plants, a portion of them can be moved and the rest are bulldozed. Unlike with natural gas development, where impacted plant life will be put back when operations are complete, these solar facilities create permanent changes.
Wind power is the worst! Do you know how many bird species, many of them protected, are killed a year?
Yet a July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, California, estimated that an average of 80 golden eagles were killed there by wind turbines each year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, estimated that about 10,000 other protected birds were being killed along with the eagles every year at Altamont.
Why do those who oppose natural gas development in the name of environmentalism support this double standard? Why is it fine for wind and solar to kill protected animals? It’s not fine, as any true environmental conservationist would admit. And, that’s why natural gas is the energy I support. It creates more power per acre, while having less impact to the environment. It’s really a no brainer if your an environmentalist.
Coexistence or Coercion?
Today, like the term “fracturing,” the word “environmentalist” has been distorted to fit an agenda. It’s been given a negative connotation and been hijacked by those with an agenda that is far from the most beneficial one for our environment. I believe that to play a fair game, we need to play on a level field putting all our cards on the table to weigh out the risks and benefits of the next moves we will make. The field is far from level at the moment, but, I hope, more and more true environmentalists will do their homework and come back to the table equipped to really understand the decisions we need to make about our energy future.