A commentary by J. F. Kelly, Jr.
The bird, bug and bunny people have gone to great lengths to save many of the least of God’s creatures, often at more than minor inconvenience to human beings. Examples include such noble creatures as the California Least Tern, Snowy Plover and that all-time favorite, the Fairy Shrimp.
Least Terns like to nest in places such as airport runways, preferably on military reservations, probably because they know the military is required to take vigorous action to protect them. The Snowy Plover is fond of beach areas, again, especially on military reservations where Marines and Seals train but dare not tread on their nests. The Fairy Shrimp is partial to mud puddles, especially on military reservations such as Camp Pendleton where a depression in the ground caused by the tire or track of a military vehicle is often deemed to be a vernal pool by the ever-watchful Green Police. To ordinary folks, of course, it’s a mud puddle, populated by mosquitoes.
The military spends millions of your tax dollars protecting the habitats of these creatures resulting in some serious restrictions on the use of training facilities at Camp Pendleton, Miramar Marine Corps Air Base and elsewhere.
Now comes the Delta Smelt (hypomeseus transpacificus, to be precise), a three-inch fish, of no particular value to humans, found, naturally, only in the California delta area. Because it is endangered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided last December that water reductions must be imposed upon the fertile San Joquin Valley so that the Delta Smelt can have the water it needs to flourish. Accordingly, tens of billions of gallons of California mountain water are being diverted from agricultural use in the valley and channeled out to sea, there to become salt water. This may be a great convenience for the Delta Smelt but it is devastating California’s farm industry and the residents of the Central Valley that depend upon agriculture for a living.
The leading industry in California, at least until now, is agriculture and California leads the nation in agriculture production. Much of that occurs in the huge, 400-mile-long Central Valley. As a result of these draconian water restrictions, hundreds of thousands of fertile acres of farm land are drying up or lying fallow and tens of thousands of people who rely on agriculture for a living are out of work. Unemployment in the area averages 14% and is much higher in many communities.
Farmers in the area expect to lose about $1.5 billion in revenue this first year alone. The Fresno Community Food Bank doubled food distributions to hungry families this year. In June, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for nine Central Valley counties and asked President Barack Obama to declare hard-hit Fresno County a federal disaster area to help finance food shipments to people who actually used to provide food for the nation. Officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) refused, saying state and local entities had adequate resources.
Adequate resources? Are they mad? California is broke. The diversion of needed water from the state’s agricultural heartland comes on top of years of drought and in the middle of a severe recession. This idiotic campaign to save the Delta Smelt is devastating the state’s leading industry.
This latest unbelievable episode in the Green campaign against humanity should awaken normal people to the fact that well-intended efforts to save the earth and all its creatures is totally out of control. Adults need to step in and help these zealots regain perspective. Is the Delta Smelt really worth the damage and suffering being inflicted on tens of thousands of people? If so, that has to be explained to the farmers and their families and to other victims of this disaster perpetrated by unelected Washington bureaucrats. I suspect that will be a hard sell.
Millions of species have come and gone on this earth and yet we manage to prosper without the likes of the dinosaurs and the mammoths. I suspect we’d muddle through somehow without the Delta Smelt. On the other hand, let’s see how well we get along without farmers and the California agriculture industry.
It is good to be green and to love the earth and its precious resources. In doing so, however, it would be well to recall that man, created in the image of God, is first among living things. In our zeal to protect some creatures that most of us will never see and few have heard of, we should resolve first to do no harm to man. Meanwhile, be careful what you step on, swat or spray. The Green Police never rest.
Copyright 2009 by J. F. Kelly, Jr.