By Hal Herring
We are experiencing a shift in our country, a growing weariness with the voices of anger and willful ignorance, especially in the realm of our natural resources. We’ve all endured it: the utterly predictable voices that growl “Wipe your butt with a spotted owl!” (or the equivalent angry platitude) whenever anybody brings up an environmental problem or a conservation challenge. The politicians who think they can win votes by proposing a mass sell-off of public lands, or who claim that protecting clean water and clean air is killing jobs, or, as happened here in Montana recently, target the restoration of a huntable population of wild bison as a plot to destroy agriculture.
Willful ignorance and the simplistic catch phrases (“drill, baby, drill!”) that it spawns are going out of fashion. But it is going out of fashion because there is a growing and nagging suspicion that our nation, caught in a web of global needs, accustomed to plenty but feeling a bit pinched, is making a lot of poor choices about natural resources, at a very critical time. A lot of people, with widely varying political views, are worried.