Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author of "Cool Creatures, Hot Planet," "Endangered Edens," and "Time Is Irreverent."

A sad Earth Day

Marty’s photo of the day #2521: I wish I could say “Happy Earth Day,” but this is one of the least happy Earth Days ever. I took this photo in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—the most magical, untouched location in the United States. Pasted below is the Epilogue that I wrote for the Arctic chapter in my book Endangered Edens. That book was published just two years ago, and yet the Epilogue is already outdated. Donald Trump and his minions are in the process of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. So if you voted Republican last election, here’s what have to say to you: “You own global warming; you own the demise of our wildlands. Go Dick Cheney yourself!”

Epilogue: Overall, not much has changed since Deb and I traveled to the Arctic in 2008. Republicans and oil companies are still fighting for drilling access to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and most, but not all Democrats are still fighting to preserve the refuge in its natural state. In fact, two months before I typed this, President Obama proposed to protect 12.3 million acres of the Arctic Refuge as wilderness (the highest level of protection), and Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski responded by calling his plan a “stunning attack” on Alaska’s sovereignty. As Washington Post White House bureau chief, Juliet Eilperin, points out, “Democrats and Republicans have fought for 35 years over how to manage ANWR.”

So it comes down to American values. Do we value that we still have a special place that looks much like it did before humans arrived, or do we value a policy of doing whatever it takes to fill our tanks with the cheapest possible gasoline? The two values are incompatible.

On the bright side, the Arctic Refuge has survived more than thirty-five years of political fights. If people (including readers of this book) speak out, write letters, and support environmentally friendly politicians, eventually public opinion will evolve to the point that drilling advocates will be seen as nothing more than primitive pariahs. If that happens, the chances are good that the Arctic Refuge of 2108 will look virtually identical to the Arctic Refuge Deb and I visited in 2008. What a great accomplishment that would be!

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