U.S. Federal Mandate, Moral Values and Conservation

There is plenty of talk, after the recent U.S. Federal election, of moral values and a mandate to govern. I would like to mention and promote discussion of exactly what moral values require regarding any Federal mandate in relation to preservation of biodiversity and a healthy (or healthier) environment.

As I see it, there is no Federal mandate to harm the environment or to threaten or reduce biodiversity. Such a program was never discussed in the election or approved by the American people.

Moral values require several things of the government. Truthful disclosure of intentions and program results is one form of moral value. Healthy forest initiatives should result in healthy forests, not degraded ones. Clear skies initiatives should reduce pollution, not reward it. Moral values mean that government program names should be descriptive, not deceptive. Moral values mean preservation of biodiversity, not elimination of species.

Moral values mean that we preserve for our children and grandchildren our natural heritage. It means that future generations of Idahoans deserve to see sage grouse in abundance. It means that future generations of Californians have burrowing owls and spotted owls and great gray owls to enjoy and admire, for starters. Willow flycatchers and red-cockaded woodpeckers and bobwhite quail and lesser prairie chickens and grizzly bears and all sorts of vertebrates and invertebrates and plants and other life forms were placed by nature in our stewardship, and moral values require that we preserve these, not liquidate them. Moral values require that old growth forest be part of the legacy we leave to our great, great grandchildren, not as lumber and timber in our homes, but as habitat for wildlife and for our descendents’ future enjoyment.

It takes no special skill or intelligence to liquidate valuable natural resources into cash. It takes skill and thought and care and commitment to say no to endless liquidation. It takes courage to say no to the relentless onslaught of materialism and consumerism in a world seemingly gone mad for taking yet more and more, and usually with money people do not have — so they have to borrow to do the purchasing of liquidated resources!

If moral values are our mandate, then let’s see to it that moral values extend deep into our culture. "A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, the stability, and the beauty of the biotic community. A thing is wrong when it tends otherwise." This is the land ethic espoused by Aldo Leopold, a superior moral value expressed concisely. There is no Federal mandate to do otherwise.