“I Don’t Give a Shit about the Bumble Bees,”

“I Don’t Give a Shit about the Bumble Bees,”

by: Larry J. Schweiger

 During a routine briefing with Canadian Park officials on June 20th 2014, Canada’s parliamentary secretary Paul Calandra, screamed, “I don’t give a shit about the bumble bees,”[i] On hearing about this disturbing admission, my first reaction was ecological stupidity is spreading northward.

This heated response has haunted me ever since learning about it. I understand the intrinsic value of parks as refuges for bumblebees and a myriad of other forms of life. I love visiting protected remnants of nature with my camera. Recently I visited Jackson Hole Wyoming and photographed the rust patch bumblebee one of the many now rare species of native bumblebees that are being wiped out by toxic pesticides and gene-manipulated toxic resistant plants that promote more and more toxic chemicals.

The more I thought about this, the more I begin to sense that something profound is going on. Perhaps, this is more than a random incident with a top official in what was not long ago a highly respected, ecologically conscious government.

On May 29, 2014, House Speaker John Boehner unapologetically announced that he doesn’t feel qualified to “debate the science” of climate change, but he apparently feels fully qualified to criticize President Obama’s modest efforts to begin to deal with climate change. Since then, the almost universal Republican line is “I am not a scientist” while they are doing everything they can to stop the advance of clean energy. This past winter, Senator Inhofe came to the floor of the Senate with a snowball to prove global warming doesn’t exist.

This past week Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and other Republican members of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee voted to slash NASA’s climate research budget because the scientists are doing continuing monitoring of climate change impacts that potentially jeopardizes the profits of their major contributors, so they’re trying to defund scientists who work on climate change. When we are driving into the night, turning the headlights off constitutes reckless endangerment.

The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is considered the most comprehensive assessment of climate change ever undertaken. There were over 830 scientist-authors from over 80 countries. They drew on over 1,000 contributing authors and over 1,000 expert reviewers. The report assessed over 30,000 scientific papers. Their warnings have grown in intensity over the many years of reporting and this fifth report was clear. We know enough to act responsibly now yet we don’t.

I find myself at the confluence of these imponderables.

* When did it become fashionable to despise nature and to reject solid science?

* When did ecological ignorance and the rejection of science become an accepted norm?

* Why do so many Americans reward such destructive hubris at the voting machines and        ballot boxes?

[i] Glen McGregor, The Gargoyle – Briefing on national park turns ugly in end of session silliness, Published on: June 20, 2014Last Updated: June 20, 2014 2:18 PM EDT, http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/the-gargoyle-briefing-on-national-park-turns-ugly-in-end-of-session-silliness


About Larry Schweiger

Larry Schweiger is the Past President and Chief Executive Officer of Citizens for PennFuture. Previously, he was President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation and earlier the CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Larry also served as the Executive Secretary of the Joint (House and Senate) Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and 1st Vice President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. He returned to the National Wildlife Federation in March 2004 with a commitment to confront the climate crisis. He is passionate about protecting nature for our children's future. Larry continues the climate work as the battle moves to the states. Previously, Larry served for eight years as President and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, where he pioneered watershed restoration and promoted ecological research, land conservation, community outreach and Fallingwater restoration. In the past, Larry was the Executive Secretary of the Joint House/Senate Conservation Committee for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs at National Wildlife Federation, and 1st Vice President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Larry wrote a book warning about climate change impacts on nature entitled: "Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth" that won 1st Prize for the best non-fiction at the 2011 Indie Book Awards. Larry started volunteering at age 14 and is an active community leader, having served on more than 40 governing boards, commissions and committees. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors of Climate Reality; the John Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment; and National Wildlife Federation Action Fund. In 2012, He was honored by the Blue-Green Alliance for the Federation's leadership on the auto rules and was selected as Pennsylvania’s Environmental Professional of the Year in 2002, Pittsburgh of the Year in 2000, and he received a Conservation Service Award from the Christian Environmental Association in September 1995. Larry is married and is blessed with three daughters, two sons-in-law, and five grandsons.
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