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National Park Service

Sobering article here by a previous director of the NPS:


As an NPS retiree, I would say he speak with heap plenty straight tongue.  I am frankly appalled at the continued vacancy of the Director, NPS, although those below that position are by no means incompetent and will soldier on -shades of James Watt!!!!

True change will come only with a new administration at the helm.  Meanwhile, i intend to contact my former park and see if there is anything I can do to help if the impending shutdown occurs....

Hinke was bad, no doubt about it.  But no one wants to work for Trump. The next one will be worse.   We will be able to recover, we always have. 

ppine said:

  We will be able to recover, we always have. 


I sincerely hope you are correct on this, but there is no law that says history will always repeat itself.  Good societies have come and gone in the past - just ask any archaeologist on the street....

I was at the Washington Monument grounds for the first Earth Day in 1970.  It is useful to remember what the US was like before the modern "Environmental Movement" took place.  This was before the passing of all of the big environmental laws under President Nixon of all people.  We had the Nat For system in place, wilderness areas, NPs and National Mons.  But we had no environmental laws.  No environmental review process. 

We have come a long way since then.  It requires some long term perspective to deal with what is happening now.  We made it through James Watt, and we will make it through the mob crime family.  

Folks like to consider certain human events track along an arc of history, analogous to the path voyager space craft tracks on its epic voyage extending out beyond the solar system.  This arc, as the label implies, is expansive and tracks across the lifetime of entire civilizations.  Progress along this arc is not significantly altered by most periodic perturbations in the public sphere.  Things like advancements in science and technology fit this model, but things like civil rights and environmental policies do not.

My generation likes to think we have reset the arc of environmental and civil rights issues.  Indeed we made lots of progress in the 1960s and 70s, but the arc we should visualize such progress on is that of a pendulum swing, whose arc has a period lasting only a generation, not the eons that voyager will spend on its journey.  While we can expect change as measured on the arc of history to have a generally forward tracking vector across generations, progress measured on the arc of a pendulum swing can obviously be radically redirected, even reversed from one generation to the next.  We neglected to observe things like the rise and fall of slavery and bigotry, civilization eradicating forests and nature reclaiming tracks formerly inhabited by civilization have recurred throughout history.   

There are important implications in the time scale used to gauge progress.  As Ppine alludes, the James Watts, (and whomever Trump appoints to do his bidding on environmental issues) have only a transient influence on such policies.  The bad news is the influence of John Muir, Jacques Cousteau, and David Attenborough are also transient, IF THEY ARE NOT STAUNCHLY EMBRACED BY EACH SUCCESSIVE GENERATION. 

My generation failed to sufficiently instill these ethos in our children.  Progress can only occur if we have enough people behind these movements to push the pendulum toward the desired objective.  But complacency, and apathy among X and early Y generations have caused the numbers supporting ecological and civil rights causes to languish.  Wearing hemp clothing and consuming organic beef are not enough.  The children of the baby boomers were not out there with the vigor required to push the pendulum up hill on its arc, thus the pendulum has slowed - perhaps even reversed - and progress on these values have been allowed to languish.  Fortunately the grandchildren of Baby boomers appear to have been spurred into action, alarmed that public policy can fall backward at the same velocity the boomers advanced it back in the day.

What our current state of affairs has taught us is twofold: each generation must serve time defending and advancing environmental and civil rights causes if we wish to see the arc of progress on these matters continue tracking in the right direction; and society's elders must implore those succeeding them to not take human value issues like civil rights and environmentalism for granted.  Only this combined credo will assure the pendulum continues to swing along the vector desired. 



A fake shutdown makes us appreciate the NPS.  They are still a messed up agency, but they are figuring out that Protectionism does not work.  They are setting fewer fires that get out of control.  They have had a steep learning curve in the last 25 years. 

September 24, 2020
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