Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, November 02, 2007

Could Endangered Species Offsets Save Palouse Farming?

Can farming survive the giant Palouse earthworm? Maybe, if farmers take a page out of Al Gore's book.
Hey? Does this mean that I can get a Nobel Peace Prize next year? My bank account could certainly use the boost.

If Al Gore and his Hollywood pals can fly Learjets guilt-free by paying off the parents of little kids in India to operate treadle pumps all day instead of going to school, then surely Palouse farmers can pay protection money to somebody to keep environmentalists from putting them out of business. Earlier this week, a coalition of environmental groups filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to pursue endangered species status for an earthworm that until recently nobody knew still existed and would never have been missed if it didn’t.

As the giant Palouse earthworm’s habitat is known colloquially as “farm land,” it follows that if the earthworm’s population has been harmed by human activity, then the human activity that has harmed it is known as “farming.” If the giant Palouse earthworm is to recover, then that offending human activity will have to cease or at least be seriously curtailed. As such, the economic survival of Palouse agriculture may well depend upon identifying the relevant outstretched palm and satisfying it.

Paying protection money to keep liberals off your back has become a growth industry in this country. If you wish to keep Jesse Jackson from declaring an economic boycott against your business, then you’d better cross his palms with silver when he comes knocking on your door with his hand open. And you’ll probably have to appoint one or two of his henchmen or family members to your board of directors as well.

But, while the modern civil rights movement has adopted the business model of the Gambino crime family, or Hillary Clinton’s campaign fundraising efforts, the environmentalist shakedown more closely resembles the selling of indulgences by the Catholic church prior to the Reformation. The most dramatic example is the trading of carbon offsets.

To celebrate his Nobel Peace Prize, Al Gore jumped onto a private jet, flew to Arizona where he rented a resort and partied down with other beautiful people. Considering the crowd he surrounds himself with, his guests probably traveled to Scottsdale in a similar fashion. The buffet table at Al Gore’s party was straining under the weight of culinary delights flown in fresh from Alaska, the east coast and Asia. And all of the carbon dioxide generated was waved away with carbon offset proofs of purchase.

This is one way that carbon offsets work. Throughout the developing world, agricultural fields are commonly irrigated using treadle pumps. Treadle pumps are like those stair stepper exercise machines you see on late night cable television infomercials. The difference is that nobody claims that a treadle pump will help you get into a size 4, although they often stand between their operators and graduating from the fourth grade.

Children are often forced to work treadle pumps because their families have been paid by carbon traders to retire their diesel-powered pumps. The carbon traders can then sell the rights to the CO2 not generated by that diesel to Al Gore so that he can resell it to his Hollywood pals or use the indulgence himself to spew 10,000 pounds per hour on his private jet trips.

So why not follow the Al Gore model to keep local environmentalist wackos off the farmers’ backs? I propose that we organize to establish a system of endangered species trading. There are vast swaths of the planet where the Endangered Species Act has no force, and the people who live there are far more concerned with their own survival than the well-being of some cute little creature that warms the souls of Earth liberationists.

It only makes sense that Palouse farmers have the option of buying endangered species offsets. Farmers could buy a few acres of Madagascar jungle and devote it to preserving an endangered species of lemurs. Any species of lemur is cuter and far more charismatic than an earthworm and would sell far more copies of National Geographic as a glossy cover critter.

There are other glamorous endangered species that could be saved and would also make great plush toys for the Audubon Society’s Christmas catalog. Endangered species offset could preserve habitat for the elephant, the Siberian tiger and the manatee.

Capitalism conquers all. The left has evolved from its doctrinaire roots into a pragmatic ideology complete with a price tag. To survive, farmers just need to negotiate the cost.

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