QUESTION: Four California Republican congressmen are proposing that human beings be covered under the Endangered Species Act. They are using this public relations ploy (which has no chance of becoming law) to make the point that species preservation plans have encroached on individual and private property rights. Are they right?
BETSY HART: You bet they are. Today's preservationists go much further than simply wanting to protect certain endangered species so that we can all live in harmony together. A radically anti-human sentiment is creeping into the activists' ranks, even into the environmental mainstream. Consider these comments from some of the movement leaders:"(Childbearing should be) a punishable crime against society unless the parents hold a government license . . .." - David Brower, former lobbyist for the Sierra Club.
"The planet is about to break out with fever . . . and we are the disease. We should be at war with ourselves and our lifestyles." - Thomas Lovejoy, tropical biologist.
And . . ."An ice age is coming and I welcome it as much-needed changing. I see no solution to our ruination of Earth except for a drastic reduction of the human population." - David Foreman, founder of Earth First!
Wow! No wonder some average folks feel threatened. And these goofy statements are not just words. In one case of preservationists run amok, John Poszgai, a mechanic in Morrisville, Pa., was given a three-year prison sentence and fined $202,000. His crime? He cleared part of his own land littered with decades worth of tires and debris to make way for a garage for his growing business. Apparently, he disturbed a "wetland habitat."
Worse yet are the animal-rights activists who set lab animals "free," often destroying priceless research into cures for human disease. Just the threat of their violence has slowed desperately needed research in many areas.
This is not to say that reasonable accommodations between animals and people cannot be met. But the way these humans have been undermining humanity, this "public relations ploy" was needed just to say, "people are animals, too."
BONNIE ERBE: Once again the wacko right has shown the propensity to fight dirtier than loam. In this case, anti-environmentalists have set up their own straw man in order to knock it down.
There is no innate conflict between preserving habitat (thereby creating a better quality of life for ours and future generations) and man's continued existence - even luxurious existence. Conservative elitists seize any opportunity to destroy the environment and whack the crap out of people trying to preserve it. They look out for their own selfish interests, plain and simple.
Fact: Hunters along the East Coast are begging wildlife officials to boost sagging populations of mallard and canvas back ducks. The Atlantic flyway has been decimated by habitat destruction and there aren't enough ducks to satisfy hunters' desires. Environmentalists have been joined by hunters in the move to preserve habitat and protect species.
We can preserve species, habitat and comfortable human lifestyles simultaneously. Beware of anyone who tries to tell you differently.