By Steve Ulvi
My phone rang. My old Alaska pal, Archie, was riled up about something.
“Hey Champ, if you ain’t too busy exfoliating or plucking your eyebrows, pick up to hear some truth.” I jumped in, “Back away from the ledge and count to 10!” He laughed and slurped a spoon of piping hot, high-test brew through his three front teeth.
My favorite chain-smoking libertarian gleefully launched into his favorite thread. It goes like this: “You gave up everything real to leave the wild northland and retire in the environmentally pummeled, foo-foo San Juan Islands.”
“I see that the legions of orca worshippers have infected your [government] with their delusion that all the @%#@#* of the past century can be repaired just by throwing a billion dollars at it! Hope in one hand, Champ, and spit in the other and see which gets full faster!”
He continued, “Let’s examine the divergent trend lines … after 100 years of mindless destruction of salmon, you have an exploding tech economy welcoming growth toward 10 million people by 2040. Meanwhile, nasty pollutants still flow freely into the Salish Sea from the linear parking lot you call the I-5 corridor, Canadian toilets and your coddled military-industrial complex.” Archie finally came up for air, “Whoa there, you freezer-burned curmudgeon.” He stopped me cold. “This orca crisis didn’t just happen. Same old capitalist mantra for growth and jobs! Forget any precautionary principles. Just give the free market a chance!”
He forged ahead, “Your Canuck neighbors are pushing to send more oil to Asia while bowing and scraping at the feet of new industry, and defending filthy Norski fish farms. You all gloat over cheap hydropower that has burned up at least a billion salmon in Washington alone!
“The swarming, uncapped whale watch industry is touting the same ol’ big lie about ‘visitor learning is appreciation leading to preservation’ that Sea World has used to justify its orcacide. You have an untouchable recreational sport fishing cabal.
“But, most odious are the legion of biologists and politicians who agree to ignore ‘shifting baseline syndrome’ about salmon numbers over time in order to collect a paycheck. Salmon, the magnificent life-blood of the entire Pacific Northwest, are on the ropes.
“The problem with the big plan is that by the time lobbyists get done slowing these efforts, the cascading impacts of climate change will be discombobulating everything. Folks will be running in circles with their hair on fire about the economic collapse. Like it came out of ‘nowhere’ just like Hurricane Katrina didn’t.”
“The scores of orca protection nonprofits and legions of ambulance-chaser scientists will accomplish very little [except] self-employment, obtuse published papers and slick bumper stickers, [all] while claiming to save these harried blackfish. Of course, we will know vastly more about them than we do about any of the other organisms now being driven to extinction, but for what? Why don’t you leave those magnificent buggers alone so they can adapt, migrate away or perish with some dignity?”