Current Magazine

The Salmon Are Going Extinct and We Won't Be Far Behind

Posted on the 27 June 2022 by Rvbadalam @Nimasema

The Salmon are going extinct and we won't be far behind

Coho salmon, here in full vivid spawning colors. One of many species of wild Pacific salmon in danger of extinction. (Jessica Newley)

I remember when I was younger -- around the time of the Spanish Civil War -- I used to listen to my parents and their friends talk with no little animation, about how the world was “going to hell in handbasket.” I never understood what that meant. What was a handbasket, and how did one go anywhere in a "basket," let alone to hell? On top of that, I didn’t think things were so bad when I was growing up in Los Angeles, California (the fact that World War II was going on during my early childhood seemed to have escaped me).

I still don’t know where that particular phrase comes from, but I tend to agree with the sentiment now. Maybe people my age just get cranky -- feel as though nothing’s as good as it used to be. But maybe not. Maybe there’s something to that observation. I’ll tell you this – fishing’s not as good as it used to be. Here in my adopted state of Washington and in the Pacific Northwest generally, native salmon are on the brink of extinction. So, that’s not a cranky old feeling. That’s a fact.

The Salmon are going extinct and we won't be far behind
I’ll tell you something else. When I was growing up in Los Angeles back in the mid-Twentieth Century, you could smell the orange blossoms in the spring, and you could look up in the night sky and see the millions of stars, then wake up in the morning and see the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains off to the East. Unless you think smelling exhaust fumes and squinting out with burning, red eyes at an orange-brown sky is a good thing, then I expect you’d agree things were better in LA back then.

But these are just my personal recollections. And they probably color my thinking about a lot of other things – like the way we live, the way we bring up our children, the way we run our country. Things like that.

It never would’ve occurred to me when I was graduating from the University of Southern California in 1961 that kids going to school today, Elementary School at that, would be searched for weapons because 12-year olds and younger are shooting each other to death. Come to think of it, it also never occurred to me that wealthy people -- investment brokers, celebrities, and the like -- would bribe test administrators and college coaches in order to get their kids into USC.

I used to worry about my kids when they were growing up in the Seventies and Eighties, but I will tell you, I never worried that they’d go to school one day and get gunned down by an 18-year old who bought two military-style AR-15s the day after his birthday expressly to go into an elementary school and murder children. As I recall, that was something like the 270th mass shooting in America in just the first half of 2022. But somehow, another 19 children slaughtered was just enough to pass a law on gun reform. Not a law that anyone who cares thinks is enough, but after waiting 30 years for something, well we hope it's the "slippery slope" that the NRA has been warning us about.

There’s been a lot of press over the years about efforts to get the entertainment industry to tone down the violence in films, television, and video games. I agree with that, and I’d add the Internet to the list. But the industry argues that there’s “no evidence” that the subject matter in these media influences people’s behavior. In fact, they argue that the films and television that they produce simply reflect society itself. You know, I don’t buy it. The biggest “e business” on the Internet is pornography and it isn’t there because it’s producers are simply “reflecting society.” It’s there because the scumbags of the world are out to make a buck any way they can. Pornography debases society and no one needs a statistical study to know that.

I’ve never watched a whole lot of television, but I’ve watched it for some fifty years and I’ll tell you what – in today’s television, from comedy to drama, almost nothing seems to be out of bounds. In the past, sponsors seemed to take some responsibility for the content of shows on which their name and product were advertised. Now, their primary concern is ratings. In other words, they’re interested in what percentage of their target audience is watching, not what they’re watching.

Corporate “social responsibility” seems to be on the decline generally. The late Senator John McCain once tried to get a bill passed that would’ve held executives personally responsible if their companies withheld evidence of product defects that resulted in injury or death. Members of the Senate beholding to industry special interests killed the bill. What’s worse, they were able to do this anonymously.

Frankly, I feel strongly that one of the greatest threats we face as a democratic society is the unchecked influence of corporate and other special interests on our government. When George W. Bush, in his preliminary debate with John McCain before the 2000 Presidential Election, said that he wouldn’t support Campaign Finance Reform, I decided right then and there that I wouldn’t vote for him – ever –and I didn’t. I’m sorry that he was ever elected president. Little did I know that not supporting Campaign Finance Reform would be the least of his faults.

Of course, I’ve got a lot of reasons for not voting Republican: I am in favor of the so-called "safety net" programs, like Social Security, Medicare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). That makes me a socialist in the minds of Republicans.

I'm also in favor of everyone having "personal bodily freedom" That's my term for every human being having the freedom to choose what to do about their health and well-being. I know this is anathema to Evangelical Christians and the Republicans who pander to their religious beliefs, and panhandle for their campaign contributions, but overturning Roe v. Wade is wrong, and the rationale for doing so is stupid. "It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs." This decision isn't the worst I've seen in my many years of watching one bad decision after another, but it's close, very very close.

The Salmon are going extinct and we won't be far behind

Protestors attend the Bans Off Our Bodies rally at the base of the Washington Monument

Well, getting back to the safety net, I think we need to spend more money on education, not on the military (despite my 20 years in the Air Force). And I favor teaching science in our public schools, not hocus-pocus. George W. Bush wants creationism on the curriculum along side evolution. I say, “Nuts!”

Well, I’m rambling, but I’m old and that’s what old folks do sometimes. Now let me tell you what I’m reading. I’m reading an article in my automobile dealer’s magazine, of all things, “Drive,” from Subaru. It’s telling me that today – Saturday, October 7, 2000 – 116 square miles of rain forest will be destroyed; 250,000 newborns will join the World’s exploding population; “at least” 1.5 million tons of hazardous waste will be released into our air, water, and land; Americans alone will throw away enough garbage today to fill the Superdome in New Orleans twice; some 40 to 100 species will become extinct.

I’m a cranky old guy that, like my parents before me, thinks things are getting worse rather than better, and this article is telling me that at the end of today, “the Earth will be a little hotter, the rain a little more acidic and the water a little more polluted…crowded cities will be more crowded and the air…will be a bit dirtier…the web of life will be a bit more threadbare. Tomorrow it starts all over again” Hey, this is my automobile dealer talking to me! Guess what I’m reading in Audubon magazine, for crying out loud!

And speaking of “drive,” I don’t like paying six bucks for a gallon of gas any more than the next guy, but drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Reserve isn’t an option for me. Haven’t we done enough harm to the environment? And half the "cars" I see driving around the Tri-Cities are trucks, or big SUVs. Either buy more fuel efficient vehicles, or buy electric vehicles. Or stop bitching about gas prices!

So here’s my plan: Vote the Republicans out of office – they had their chance and screwed things up royally. Let the Democrats screw things up for a change.
I’m also thinking about meditation. If I understand it, you sit there and try not to think about anything. Hey, that could help. When I told my wife, she said, ”Meditation, hell. You need medication!” She could be right.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog