I love cannabis, and I love Humboldt County. Cannabis is a beautiful plant with many beneficial uses, and Humboldt County is a very special place. Humboldt County’s steep, rugged terrain, frequent earthquakes and remote location have protected it from development. As urban sprawl and agriculture displaced California’s native wildlife, many of California’s endemic species retreated to the forested mountains of Humboldt County. Some of these species are now found nowhere else on Earth.
Everyone knows about the redwoods, and that Luna, the famous redwood giant that Julia Butterfly Hill lived in for two years, still stands in Humboldt County, along with some of the last remaining old-growth redwood forest in the world. Roosevelt elk, mountain lions and black bear all make their home in Humboldt County’s wild back-country. Endangered species like the spotted owl, coho salmon, pacific fisher and Humboldt martin all face uncertain futures as the very last populations of these once abundant creatures struggle to survive and reproduce here in the last wild refuge left to them. Rare amphibians like the tailed frog and the giant Pacific salamander testify to the great biodiversity that Humboldt County’s ancient forests have incubated and nurtured through the eons.
Today, Humboldt County’s black market cannabis industry threatens them all. A massive expansion underway in Humboldt County’s underground marijuana industry is having a devastating effect on native wildlife. New roads and clear-cuts for marijuana plantations degrade and fragment vital forest habitat. Fertilizer runoff and road sediment choke salmon streams, Noise and light pollution disrupt wildlife behavior. Rat poison and pesticides kill native wildlife, including essential forest pollinators, and leave a legacy of poison that kills and sickens animals throughout the food web for generations. The movement towards legalization and the deescalation of the War on Drugs has unleashed a monster in Humboldt County.
Humboldt County’s cannabis industry is a product of the War on Drugs, and to this day, the vast majority of the marijuana grown in Humboldt County gets sold on the black market. Humboldt County’s black market growers heed no regulation, pay no taxes, and show no respect for wildlife. The black market cannabis industry has always been a “cut and run” business, and our forests are already littered with the detritus of long abandoned guerrilla grow sites from those bygone days. Today the scale of the grows and the number of grows have increased by orders of magnitude. Humboldt County’s forest habitat cannot withstand this scale of abuse.
Most of Humboldt County’s local environmental groups have chosen to work for better regulation and compliance. However, their efforts are overwhelmed, both politically, and on the ground, by an industry that never asks permission and always wants more. Humboldt County government is dominated by real estate developers who seem as eager to cash in on the green-rush as the growers themselves. The great seal of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors depicts a redwood log, not a tree, but a log, sawn at both ends, lying on its side. That pretty much sums up the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors attitude towards the environment.
So far, regulation has done nothing to reign-in the out-of-control devastation going on in Humboldt County. That’s why a new group of concerned Humboldt County residents have decided to take their message to cannabis consumers and policymakers directly. This new organization, Habitat Forever, strongly supports the complete legalization of cannabis, but seeks to draw attention to the terrible environmental impacts of Humboldt County’s black market industry. To this end, they’ve produced a five-minute micro-documentary titled Humboldt is Habitat that examines the environmental impacts of Humboldt County’s black market marijuana industry.
Cannabis consumers might be surprised to discover that Humboldt County’s famous marijuana is not grown in Humboldt County soil at all. Instead, all of the soil used to grow marijuana in Humboldt County is trucked-in fresh each year, often hundreds of miles from its source, up steep, winding dirt roads, causing sediment and erosion that choke salmon streams. Cannabis consumers deserve to know the truth about the products they pay for, and now that cannabis has become legal, consumers should be able to choose whether they want to support Humboldt County’s fisher-poisoning, salmon-killing black market growers, or not.
Habitat Forever reminds cannabis consumers that it is still best to grow your own, and that it is more important than ever to know where and how your cannabis was grown. Now that prohibition is ending, Habitat Forever believes that it is vitally important to move the cannabis industry out of Humboldt County’s critical natural habitat, and to make space for the legal cannabis industry in more appropriate locations, like agricultural farmland, urban brown-fields, close to population centers, abandoned mill-sites etc. Humboldt County’s natural beauty and the world’s biological heritage is far too precious to abandon to Humboldt County’s drug war holdovers still squeezing the last few bucks out of the this heinous crime against humanity known as the War on Drugs.
You can see Habitat Forever’s new video, Humboldt is Habitat at youtube and you can visit their website at www.habitatforever.wordpress.com
In separate interactions with two different liberal lawyers, recently, I heard the same phrase uttered as an excuse for human caused environmental devastation. It sounded all too familiar. It’s a deceptively simple phrase, but it conceals one of the fundamental myths of this new science-based religion called “Secular Humanism.” Both of these gentlemen expressed this phrase as a personal belief. “I just think that we are a species in the midst of adolescence.” or “I believe that we are a species in adolescence,” was more or less how they put it. That’s a strange thing to believe.
Secular humanists have adopted this strange belief in the adolescence of the human species because of their strange belief in science. Believing in science is pretty weird too, if you ask me. Not that anyone did, but still, it’s one thing to learn about the world using the scientific method, and it’s something else altogether to “believe in” science.
Secular humanists think that our objective, scientific understanding of the universe is the greatest thing since sliced bread. They see the emergence of science as a guiding light that will see us through this difficult phase of our evolution, our adolescence, if you will. We must be doing something right, they reason, if we can put a nuclear powered car on Mars, calculate the moment of the Big Bang to the millisecond and find the goddamn Higgs boson, and they assume there is a point to it all. They see the scientific viewpoint as superior. Our best hope for survival, as a species, they will tell you, is more science and technology. That’s what I mean when I say that Secular Humanists “believe in science.”
Unfortunately, the facts on the ground tell us that most of today’s really pressing crises originated with some new scientific development, and the technology it inspired. For instance we face Global Warming because of certain developments in chemistry, a few mechanical inventions, and a hell of a lot of marketing. The knowledge that science gives us, has led to horrific disasters and environmental devastation around the globe. From the spectre of nuclear warfare to global climate change, to overpopulation, every new scientific discovery leads to new technology, which creates a new crisis.
We tell ourselves that all of this destruction is part of our “education” as a species. We tell ourselves that we are a good species, and we are on the right track, but we just need a little more time to reach our maturity. If we think about human beings as an “adolescent species” does that also mean that we should also think of the genocide of the American Indians as a college “panty raid,” slavery as a sort of fraternity hazing, and the whole environmental crisis as just a nasty hangover from doing too many Jagger-bombs at that kegger last night? Perhaps we should just say: “boys will be boys.” about these dark chapters in in our history, because these were just the youthful indiscretions of an adolescent species, and someday, we’ll grow out of it, get a job, and settle down.
Of course, if we actually applied what we know about science to this new myth, we’d realize that adolescence happens to individuals, not species. Individuals reach a stage where they no longer need the direct care and supervision of their parents, but have very little experience to draw from in their encounters in the real world. Adolescence never happens to a whole species at once. Every species is fully mature at the moment it evolves into existence. There are no “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” in nature.
Species evolve in response to the pressures and limitations placed on them by their environment. If the species survives, it is only because it’s particular adaptations are suited to the challenges of the environment they face at that moment. Species don’t evolve with adaptations suited to some future world, or with adaptations that take a few millennium to refine. The idea of a species in adolescence has no basis in science at all.
Every generation of every species comes with a fully mature set of time-tested adaptations that prepare it for survival within the limits set by its environment. That’s why you will never hear a biologist say, of an invasive species, for instance: “Well, Zebra mussels are an adolescent species. They want to get out and see the world, but we think that eventually they will return to their home range and settle down as the species matures.”
…or of an endangered species: “We think that the declining numbers of Northern spotted owls in Northern California forests is the result of the owls engaging in risky behavior. We think the owls are ‘acting out’ in reaction to losing so much of their habitat to logging. Spotted owls are an adolescent species, and we think this is just a temporary phase. We just need to give the owls some space, and let nature take its course.” Nor will you find any such nonsense in biology textbooks.
Why then, do you suppose, has this idea of an adolescent species, homo adolescence, if you will, has become such a widespread belief among Secular Humanists, who, because of their high regard for science, should know better?
It might be because Secular Humanists, like most people, prefer literary metaphor to real science. It might be because most Secular Humanists just haven’t examined that aspect of their belief system very closely, or it could be because Secular Humanists simply cannot face the fact that we are not looking at the youthful indiscretion of a species nearing maturity, but instead, we are witnessing the collapse of a suicidal culture, that is taking science, democracy, all of our beloved technology, and everything that makes us feel superior to the rest of nature, with it. The real answer, of course, is “all of the above.”
In truth, we’re a great species! We’re a mature, time tested species, that has achieved global distribution. There’s nothing wrong with us as a species. As a species, we’ve developed thousands of cultures, suited to life in the place they originated. We just happened to be born into one particularly destructive culture, that has already destroyed an alarming amount of the world’s biologic, as well as human, cultural diversity. There’s nothing wrong with us as people, but the way we live, the way we think, and the way we see ourselves in relationship to the rest of nature couldn’t be more wrong. If we hope to survive, as a species, our culture has got to change.