A Black Swan event completely changes how the world looks when we get past it. So, is the Covid19 pandemic a “Black Swan” event. Ponder these questions – Will schools be different? Colleges? Will working from home be the norm? What will restaurants look like and when will they return? Lawyers and financial people are working from home. Water/sewer utilities have over half their people are working from home. Is this the new normal?
How about sports – years ago there was discussion about sports becoming more of a television event as opposed in person event since the television money dwarfs the attendance in most cases, playing the games is the most important issues for the leagues. NFL – get to a bubble – its working in the NBA and NHL. Not working – MLB and college football.
Question- does the alteration of the natural system increase the likelihood of covid 19 and similar diseases? We may never know the answer to this question but if Mother Nature once had the world in equilibrium, and a disruption at one point can disrupt the globe (the Butterfly effect), in conjunction with the knowledge that mangroves can protect urban communities, perhaps we need to rethink our changes to ecosystems and environments. Just a thought.
A friend of mine has a raccoon problem. Turns out so do all his neighbors as there are traps everywhere behind his house. Not that they catch any raccoon. The trapper he hired noted that a year or so ago the residents wanted the coyotes exterminated because they snapped up a few cats. Now they have a racoon problem. Funny how that works. Oh and a feral cat problem. Maybe they should bring back the coyotes and keep their cats inside.
Sharks are indicators of ocean health. The numbers of white-tip sharks has plummeted by 90% since 1990, mostly due to fishing pressures. Sharks clean up the waters from the dead and dying. Less sharks =?
Frogs are an indicator of the health of biosystems. If there are no frogs, there is no clean water. Note that when looking as sourcewater protection
We may only have identified 20% of the bugs out there.
And finally – there is more plastic in the ocean that fish. And its heading to our shores. Much of it is in tiny spheres, a huge problem for collection. Birds, fish, whales, dolphins, sharks etc cannot avoid. This year we made the equivalent of 25,000 Empire State buildings worth of plastic. That is a lot of plastic. The good news Is that there are people trying to clean some of those up, but that is a monstrous job.
71% of grizzly bears that died in the Lower 48 states from 2004-2014 died as a result of human causes, much of it related to illegal hunting. That is an indication of lax prosecution of poachers. The same issue exists with exotic animals in other parts of the world – the penalties are not enough to dissuade poachers. Clearly efforts are needed to protect wildlife. But good news, the International Wildlife Council, a group of trophy hunters and gun advocates set to guide federal rules on big game hunting, has been disbanded after a lawsuit was filed challenging the makeup of the group as a regulatory body. Now some of these same characters want to remove wolves from the endangered species list. They want to hunt wolves. And we have seen the triumph of wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone and a proposed ballot measure in Colorado this year to reintroduce wolves, and have to wonder.
In prior blogs I have noted that challenges of old mines that contaminate water supplies. Many of these mines are over 100 years old, and those responsible are long gone, as are the companies that owned and profited from them. It is a legacy that a series of laws passed in the 1970s, and updated since, have been put into place to avoid future risks to the public. But challenges continue. Montana, the USEPA and the Justice Department is approved a $150 million cleanup at the ARCO mine in Butte. A MEIC lawsuit protected !50,000 acres from 287 oil and gas lease. The US Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision that said the water injected into the ground in Hawaii that came out in the ocean is still regulated under the Clean Water Act. The southeast Michigan Resilience Fund awarded $1.5 million in grants to critical habitat cleanup. The Farm Bill was designed to use 10% of the funds for source water protection, injecting millions into this effort. The Administration agreed to the One Trillion Tree Initiative, planting 2.5 to 3.3 trillion trees per year to absorb carbon emissions and help to stem the loss of biodiversity.
At the same time, the federal government is proposing rules to roll back a 100+ year old Migratory Bird Treaty Act, by reducing penalties for industries that cause the deaths of birds. These are rules affect nets over oil pits, at efforts to reduce accidental deaths caused by power lines, cell towers and wind turbines. Potentially is could lead to as many s a billion bird deaths. Likewise, the federal government rolled back the Waters of the US law that was finally approved in 2015 to settle a 25 year old Supreme Court direction. Critics argue the change does not comport with science in dealing with potential for runoff from lands and therefore we can expect this revision to go to court, but the states and local governments could regulate these more localized areas. The federal government as also accelerated pipeline construction by weakening the 1970 NEPA requirements, noting that all pipeline approvals need to be produced within 30 days, a difficulty task on some of these huge projects. The removal of co-benefits, those benefits that result from the regulation of one constituent that helps another, should be ignored for cost:benefit purposes. The effect of that change is to skew cost benefit ratios to embolden economic short term economic gains. We have seen this does not work with old mines. Ongoing challenges with the Mining Act of 1866 and people /states trying to create roads over wilderness to prevent their protection is a problem.
Added to al this is that EPA has relaxed their already relaxed enforcement in 2020. While the covid pandemic has created operational challenges, one has to wonder if this is a good idea. The lawsuit has already been filed challenging this pause in regulatory responsibility.