Dec 31, 2012

Exterminating Nature

Exterminating Nature -- The dissolution of North America's last natural habitats -- and those who live in it.  


"Over the past four centuries, gray wolf populations in North America have been decimated by overwhelming increases in human population, development of agriculture, and expansion of industrial forestry. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of wolves have been trapped, poisoned, shot from helicopters, and sterilized, among other modes of destruction. By the beginning of the twentieth century, wolves had nearly vanished from the eastern United States, most of southern Canada, and the Canadian Maritime provinces. By 1960, the wolf had been exterminated by federal and state governments from all of the United States except Alaska and northern Minnesota. The distribution of the gray wolf in North America is now confined primarily to Alaska and Canada…
"In Canada, the gray wolf is still found throughout much of its historical range." -- Following the Last Wild Wolves, McCallister, 2011
The former ranging area of the North American gray wolf. (Fullsize)

Am i going off the deep end? As a tree-hugging environmentalist i have to say: there's a silent war on nature, unintentional and ignorant. We complicity pave over, pollute, and exhaust the resources and natural habitats each member of Creation depends upon. After reading Following The Last Wild Wolves, by Ian McCallister, I feel i can't emphasize this point enough.

FTLWW gives the reader a sense of how nature really works (via infinite micro and macro relationships) and how we've singularly remade this continent over the last few hundred years by replacing nature with human society and material endeavors. The book tracks McCallister's observations of North America's iconic yet collossally few remaining gray wolves, as the wolves hunt, birth, nurture, travel, hide, and protect their families in a cycle that's older than the modern concept of time. 
"Except for humans and possibly the African lion, gray wolves once had the most extensive range of any terrestrial mammal. They were found in a variety of environments, from dense forest to open grassland and from the Arctic tundra to extreme desert, avoiding only swamps and tropical rain forests. Now wolves occur mostly in remote and undeveloped areas of the world with sparse human populations.

"On the North American mainland, gray wolves were once found everywhere expect the southeastern United States, California west of the Sierra Nevada Range, and the tropical and subtropical regions of Mexico. The species also occurred ... throughout the Arctic Archipelago and Greenland." -- Following the Last Wild Wolves, McCallister, 2011
Not so long ago gray wolves were everywhere on this continent. As apex predators with impressive ranging skills, organizational abilities, diets and intelligence, their presence is/was indicative of large, healthy ecosystems teeming with challenges and opportunities for wildlife. Today, the last remaining undisturbed North American gray wolves are pretty much found only in the Great Bear Rainforest of coastal British Columbia. This area, though beautiful, has remained inhospitable to commercialization thus far, but it's not safe from near term plunder.

Gray wolves, undisturbed.

Proposed commercialization of Great Bear Rainforest.

How Do We End This War?

As we begin a new year i'm drawn to grandscale armchairing. In the wake of everyday personal problems, celebrity gossip, Congressional can-kicking, audacious distractions, religious / non-profit / civic / PTA and other community failings, and all the rest -- we're losing Nature. People are unaware. We're losing that which sustains us. If Following the Last Wild Wolves is any indication, we should preserve and leave be the last remaining wild places on earth before they're lost forever. We owe ourselves, our children, and our spirits -- if you believe in anything spiritual that is.

Who has the authority to protect nature? You. Stuff on your personal todo list 2013 should include: increasing your commitment to carbon mitigation and divestment, water conservation, waste reduction and reuse, and protection / restoration of natural habitat.

You must share your concerns about nature with those around you, even if in the form of just sharing this short blog. You must seek out ways to improve your relationship with the planet by getting outdoors, shopping smarter, being more politically active, leading a community group, changing your own habits for goodness sake, making big investments or donations -- you must. 
"Only a fool would rather die than die without a tribe, but this is the last chance to reverse your stance…" -- The Last Poets - from Delights of the Garden

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