‘They’ say the first step is always the hardest.

“Whatever we believe about how we got to be the extraordinary creatures we are today is far less important than bringing our intellect to bear on how we get together around the world and get out this mess we’ve made. That’s the key thing now. Nevermind how we got to be who we are.” – Jane Goodall

When quotations like this appear on Facebook or in news stories and articles, they get a huge number of LIKES and positive comments. I want to ask, “So, after you clicked LIKE or wrote ‘so true,’ what did you do next?”

Likewise, when people encounter charities and various crowdfunding initiatives that are collecting money for programs that will make a better world, I’m curious what people did after donating their $25 or $50. The same thought comes to mind about what people do after signing petitions that are trying to raise the public’s (or an elected official’s) awareness about a problem.

Many people appear to believe that talking about an issue is the same thing as actively working to “fix” whatever needs to be fixed. Being concerned about something, while commendable, isn’t the same thing as putting your money where your mouth is or putting your brains and brawn where your money is.

Needless to say, some people who donate $50 to one group and sign a petition in support of another group really think they’ve done their bit.

I don’t have a list of the things people ought to be doing, but joining nuts and bolts volunteer groups is one place to begin. Once you join, you’ll see an old truism governs how much gets done: 20% of the members usually do 80% of the work.

In churches, the concept of the tithe usually refers to money. Yet, we can also apply it to time, as in, giving 10% of one’s time toward fixing the mess we’re in. Even though some government officials, corporations, and lobbying groups are giving 100% of their time to make the mess worse, if enough people chipped in enough time to thwart those who are destroying nature and freedom and equality and peace, then we might have a chance of actually fixing something rather than talking about fixing something.

One way or the other, we need to take that first step toward action.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Special Investigative Reporter,” “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” “Eulalie and Washerwoman,” “Lena,” “Sarabande,” “Mountain Song,” “At Sea,” and “The Sun Singer.”



Environment: ship of fools or delusional idiots

Hurricane Michael is aimed at the place where I grew up. Almost everyone from Florida has seen storms before, but the odd thing is, each time a new storm arrives I see lists of things people should do to get ready and be safe. People should know these things already as surely as they know to look both ways before crossing the street and not taking a bath with a plugged-in toaster.

If my family lived in Tallahassee now, we probably wouldn’t leave. However, we would leave if we lived in Carrabelle, St. Marks, and other coastal communities in the storm’s path. Every year, there are hurricane deniers who say they’re ready to ride out the storm as though they are bigger than the storm. We saw what happened to those people when hurricane Florence struck: they needed to be rescued and that put first-responders’ lives at risk.

I have no idea whether the timing, routes, and ferocity of Florence and Matthew have anything to do with global warming. But, inasmuch as those storms are arriving at the same time as we’re hearing another set of global warming warnings, they remind me of the fact that many people have denied the importance of the environment for years and they seem to be treating warnings about rising seas, droughts, fires, and other effects the same way they treat hurricane warnings.

Years ago, we began hearing the term “spaceship earth.” We were told that in spite of Earth’s apparent resilience to poisons, plastics, rainforest clearing, fracking, and other forms of pollution and environmental damage, that our planet was–in many ways–a spaceship traveling through space with limited resources and a failing infrastructure. Multiple environmental groups have been complaining about the damage ever since I was in grade school, and probably before that.

I was naïve in the 1960s when I joined the Sierra Club because I actually thought people were smart enough to take those warnings seriously. Now I think that spaceship earth is either a ship of fools or is carrying passengers who are delusional idiots. Apparently, restricting one’s actions to help the environment is so inconvenient that allowing Earth to fail is worth it. Most people think it will happen years after they’re gone. So they don’t worry about it. That foolish idiocy keeps them from seeing it’s happening now.

For those who love dystopian fiction, watch the news. We are living it. There’s no need to make it up. And to ramp up our feelings of danger, the current Presidential administration has appointed kamikaze pilots to every single post that can impact spaceship earth for better or worse. So far, they are choosing “worse.” We can shake our fists at the storm and say we’re going to ride it out.

Good luck with that.





Expanded Waterton-Glacier Watershed Protections Needed

from National Parks and Conservation Assn:

Former National Park Superintendents Call for Waterton-Glacier Expansion, Watershed Protections

Waterton Lakes - Chris Phan photo

Whitefish, MT — An international coalition of retired superintendents from Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada and Glacier National Park in the United States has voiced their concern for the future of those parks and the need for immediate actions by both countries to complete park protection measures begun earlier this year.

“Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is a treasure that we all share as North Americans,” said former Glacier Superintendent Mick Holm.  “In joining our voice with our Canadian counterparts, we’re hoping public officials in both countries will view our communication as a call to action on behalf of this globally significant World Heritage site.”

Waterton Lakes - Lesa Campbell photo

The letter, signed by nearly all of the parks’ former superintendents, comes in the closing days of Glacier’s centennial year, as Congress considers a bi-partisan public-lands omnibus bill (America’s Great Outdoors Act of 2010) that includes several key park-protection measures. The package legislation encompasses more than 110 individual bills, aimed at protecting the country’s land, water and wildlife resources. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he would like to see passage before Congress adjourns early in the New Year.

In their letter, the former superintendents endorse a long-standing proposal for Canada to expand Waterton Lakes National Park westward, into one-third of the British Columbian Flathead.  They also call for Canada to establish a wildlife management area connecting Waterton-Glacier to other Canadian Rocky Mountain parks, including Banff.

Glacier - St. Mary's Lake - NPS

The former superintendents noted the historic nature of recent steps taken by both countries to prohibit coal strip-mines, hard-rock mining, and oil and gas leases on public lands upstream from Waterton-Glacier, including action to protect 400,000 acres in Canada and the voluntary relinquishment of 200,000 acres of oil and gas leases by energy companies in the United States. They note, however, that legislation to finalize the mining and drilling ban has yet to become law in the United States, and urge prompt action on that front.

They also call for expanded environmental cooperation across the border, and a formal international agreement between both countries to protect Waterton-Glacier and the surrounding Crown of the Continent ecosystem in Montana, British Columbia, and Alberta.

“To have nearly every retired superintendent from Waterton and Glacier calling for these measures is beyond significant,” said Tim Stevens, Northern Rockies regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association.  “These individuals spent their entire careers managing protected areas.  They understand better than anyone what steps are needed to ensure the ecological integrity and clean headwaters of Waterton-Glacier.”

In 2009, proposed mining activities in the Canadian Flathead Valley gained the attention of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which voted unanimously to send an international team of scientists to investigate whether the negative impacts of proposed coal strip mines warranted listing Waterton-Glacier as a “World Heritage site in Danger.”  The UNESCO report concluded that the proposed strip-mine would result in environmental harm to the World Heritage site.

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