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One reason I now distinguish between “E”nvironmentalism and “e”nvironmentalism is that there has been a sea change in attitudes in the environmental community over the past three decades. When I was a Boy Scout and when I first started joining hiking clubs some 20 years ago much of the literature I read was closely dedicated to conservation and the classics from Muir to Leopold were common. Even Rachel Carson was writing in a very different time than today.

The essence of these works (for me) was that folks who wished to see more protection of environmental amenities were lashing out against the elites and the concentrated and raw power of government who often paved a trail of environmental destruction in their efforts to promote economic development or some other outcome. I remember reading many a piece about the potential problems created by damming up important waterways beyond the obvious benefits. These old environmentalists sounded to me very much like the economists of today. Think about dams again: while they were built for flood control and irrigation purposes, they also had the strong probability of contributing to deforestation (from the development which surrounds the new dam) ultimately reducing the net flood control benefits. The dams famously destroyed many salmon habitats, they alter the soil richness of the area downstream from the dam, they increase the possibility of insect borne diseases because of the slowing of water both above and below the dam and so on. Furthermore, it used to be the case that the environmentalists would be very concerned about the property rights of people who were forced to sell property in the name of economic development.

No more.

And this is why I do not label myself an “E”nvironmentalist anymore. Rather than understanding humility in the face of complex problems. Rather than being skeptical of simple solutions for interventions in complex ecosystems today’s crop of “E”nvironmentalists is practicing just the opposite. Now there are some in the modern environmental movement who do not commit to these mistakes. For example, there are some global warming activists who do correctly articulate that the climate is a complex system and that we ought to be thoughtful about messing with it because we simply do not know what may happen. That is a far more defensible position, and one I support, than others in the community who argue that the technocrats running climate models have anything near a complete understanding of an infinitely complex system and furthermore that we can and should entrust the experts in green industries and in government not only to know how to intervene to “fix” the problem but that they will do so honestly without in any way directing funds and priorities into things that benefit themselves or their colleagues.

The “e”nvironmental community used to be incredibly skeptical of the latter. For a great illustration of how simple interventions in complex ecological systems can and do have many unintended consequences, you would enjoy reading Allston Chase’s excellent book Playing God in Yellowstone.

Which brings me to the thing that inspired this post: 65 year old California man tortured in LA county jail for daring to … peddle raw milk. I actually “like” to see this. In the past two years we have seen an attack on yogurt companies that use raw milk. We have seen an attack on family farms and organic farms who cannot keep up with the new food safety regulations that have been passed in the name of “consumer protection.”

NaturalNews can now report that 65-year-old senior citizen James Stewart, a raw milk farmer with no criminal history, was nearly tortured to death in the LA County jail this past week. He survived a “week of torturous Hell” at the hands of LA County jail keepers who subjected him to starvation, sleep deprivation, hypothermia, loss of blood circulation to extremities, verbal intimidation, involuntary medical testing and even subjected him to over 30 hours of raw biological sewage filth containing dangerous pathogens.

This is from a county that has targeted and terrorized James Stewart for the supposed crime of selling fresh milk containing “dangerous pathogens.” That’s right – the only “crime” James has ever committed is being the milk man and distributing milk that is openly and honestly kept fresh and raw instead of pasteurized. So as part of his punishment of advocating raw cow’s milk, he was tortured withraw human sewageat the LA County jail.

The story speaks for itself, and keep it in mind when you see harsh backlash from people who think the FDA is 100% absolutely necessarily a good thing, or that the USDA is the reason our food is safe and that we as individuals ought not be permitted to engage in all kinds of commerce because something might hurt us. Ask folks what they think of the raw milk guy. Ask them what they think of organic farms who cannot pass USDA food inspection. And ask them why some people should be permitted to make choices about risk, safety and enjoyment and the rest of us should not.

One Response to “Environmentalists Should Take Note”

  1. Rod says:

    Strangely enough, there is a link between Yellowstone Park management and raw milk.

    In the sixties and seventies, Brucellosis, a disease that can infect both cattle and people, had been eradicated in this country. Brucellosis causes spontaneous abortion in cattle and undulant fever in people — an extremely debilitating disease that causes physical weakness and that can endanger the health of internal organs.

    Before the sixties, one of the very important reasons to pasteurize milk was to kill brucellosis pathogens. Even though my family operated a dairy farm, we drank pasteurized milk from the dairy we shipped our milk to, for fear of the disease. Before I was born, one of our hired men brought with him when he was hired a Jersey cow he had purchased at a local auction sale. That cow had brucellosis, and she infected many of our cattle, causing us to test frequently for the disease and requiring that we quarantine all reactors to the test before they were slaughtered. The USDA gave us an indemnity of something like $200 per cow, well below the market price of our average registered Holsteins.

    We were also careful in the 1959’s not to visit other farms and to require that anyone who was a farmer or vet or whatever did not walk on our property with manure from another farm on their shoes. We never, ever, allowed farmers to set foot on our front walk. We also did not take our cows to cattle shows, and we even had reservations about going to the Pennsylvania Farm Show when dairy cattle would be there.

    At the same time, the USDA required all dairy cattle to be tested annually for brucellosis and TB. Reactors to either test had to be destroyed and not used for meat (one can get brucellosis from the meat of infected cattle.

    In 1970 or so, brucellosis had been eradicated in the United States, but then somewhere around 1980, some dairy cattle in the US turned out to be reactors to the annual test, which was still required. At the time, Canadian show cattle which had come to the Central National Holstein Show were thought to be the culprits. But that incidence of brucellosis was miniscule compared to what was happening in the Yellowstone Park area.

    Bison and elk can also carry brucellosis, and they did not check in with anyone when they crossed the Canadian border. The Yellowstone folks, as you can imagine, were not about to start shooting bison, as the herd in Yellowstone had just begun to be large enough to sustain itself and multiply. Well, it’s hard to multiply the bison herd when they’re aborting their calves before term. The USDA tried to put pressure on Canada to kill bison, but the horses were already out of the barn, so to speak, on the brucellosis front.

    That brings us up to today, when it really is a serious public health concern that brucellosis in people be prevented. Here in Pennsylvania, we used to have “certified raw milk” farms that subjected themselves to more-than-annual testing of their cattle. We also have Amish farmers who have gotten into trouble for selling raw milk. I also know of a few milk producers who operate “jug milk” stores that have raw milk for sale. I have had raw milk from one of these places down near Phoenixville, and I have to say the milk tasted awful. Besides meeting brucellosis regulations, there are a thousand ways you can goof up milk. The only raw milk I ever drank with enthusiasm was the 4.1 percent milk out of my own bulk tank: it was yummy, and the difference between it and milk from the store was like the difference between Dom Perignon and Thunderbird.

    I am not sure what is wrong with pasteurization. I have never read anything that suggested that the taste of the milk was harmed or that the nutrition of the milk was anything but the same as raw milk. I would be more concerned about how the milk was handled and about the leukocytes in the milk and the standard plate count for bacteria. Leukocytes are present in normal, yummy milk, but they can be present in large numbers when the dairy farmer producing the milk is indifferent to diseased udders, where staph infections can send leukocyte counts through the roof. When I had cattle, our leukocyte counts were routinely in the mid-hundreds, but I know a jug milk farm in Worcester, PA, that has whole herd leukocyte counts in the 70,000 range, a very good number. What that says is that he’s not using the milk from infected cows. Hooray!

    Regulating the cleanliness and healthfulness of dairy farms and processors seems to me one of the few things the USDA is good for, kind of like keeping the tarantulas out of my bananas. You could even argue that since brucellosis testing is also required by most states, if the USDA were eliminated for the sake of getting out of the alcohol business, the states could take over. Or maybe we need a federal role to allow someone to test the bison in Yellowstone and to shoot bison crossing the border (Eric Holder might not like this, as bison represent a minority, and you’d not want to prevent those illegal bison from voting.)

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