Leviathan Delusion in Paradise Lost

Posted March 7, 2019 at 5:45 am by

In the SJ Update Mail­bag this morn­ing, we have this let­ter from Steve Ulvi…

Glanc­ing at caller ID on a recent snowy morn­ing, I guessed that my old Alas­ka pal, Archie was riled up about some­thing.   Most like­ly a retal­ia­to­ry shot in response to the brow-beat­ing I served up pre­vi­ous­ly. I had been pret­ty steamed about the sheer insan­i­ty of Alas­ka oil rev­enue pol­i­tics, open­ing the Arc­tic Refuge when we won’t need any more oil and try­ing to restart the abom­inable Peb­ble Mine idea. I let it ring and go to mes­sage, decid­ing whether to pick up.

“Hey Champ, if you ain’t too busy exfo­li­at­ing or pluck­ing your eye brows, pick up to hear some truth…”.

Warm­ing to his famil­iar voice I jumped in “back away from the ledge and count to ten, Archie, the moon of boom­ing ice is near­ly over!”.

He laughed and slurped a spoon of pip­ing hot, high-test brew through his three front teeth. He had most of his teeth pulled by an itin­er­ant hack den­tist, while in the fog of a hang­over, after read­ing about some guy going around the bend due to sil­ver fill­ings in a John Birch Soci­ety mag­a­zine in the 1980s.

Not one for polite chit-chat, my favorite chain-smok­ing lib­er­tar­i­an glee­ful­ly launched into his favorite thread. A view that can be sum­ma­rized in san­i­tized terms as ‘you gave up every­thing real to leave the wild north­land and retire in the envi­ron­men­tal­ly pum­meled, foo-foo San Juan Islands’.

“I see that the legions of Orca wor­ship­pers have infect­ed your Guv with their delu­sion that all the @%#@#* of the past cen­tu­ry can be repaired just by throw­ing a bil­lion dol­lars at it! Any­one ever hear of Hump­ty Dump­ty? Hope in one hand, Champ, and spit in the oth­er and see which gets full faster!”

Ignor­ing my quick jab about his odd infat­u­a­tion with Sarah Palin, he launched into his full broad-side with vit­a­min D deprived vig­or. “So let’s exam­ine the diver­gent trend lines… after 100 years of mind­less destruc­tion of salmon, their natal streams and vital estu­ar­ies you have an explod­ing tech econ­o­my wel­com­ing growth toward 10 mil­lion peo­ple clog­ging the shore lines by 2040. Your ‘pinko’ neigh­bors in Hock­ey Land are froth­ing at the mouth to send a lot more oil to Asia. Mean­while nasty pol­lu­tants still flow freely into your fabled Sal­ish Sea from the lin­ear park­ing lot you call the I‑5 cor­ri­dor, Cana­di­an toi­lets and your cod­dled Mil­i­tary-Indus­tri­al com­plex, who in their right mind would think…”.

Archie final­ly came up for air, so I tried to get in a shot “whoa there you freez­er-burned cur­mud­geon, this three-pronged effort is wide­ly sup­port­ed and crit­i­cal for…”.

He stopped me cold with a deri­sive snort and shared his blind­ing flash of the obvi­ous (as though he was Per­ry Mason drop­ping an irrefutable clus­ter-bomb of fact on his sleepy pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al opponent).

“This Orca cri­sis didn’t just hap­pen! Same old cap­i­tal­ist mantra for growth and jobs! For­get any pre­cau­tion­ary prin­ci­ples! Tech­nol­o­gy will bail us out if you just give the free mar­ket a chance!”. In the short pause, I could hear Archie nois­i­ly gum­ming his favorite snack of saltine crack­ers smeared with mayo, as he forged ahead, “Look out your win­dow!   Your Canuck friends are going to destroy the Fras­er Riv­er salmon while bow­ing and scrap­ing at the feet of new indus­try and defend­ing filthy Nors­ki fish farms. You all gloat over cheap hydro-pow­er that has burned up at least a bil­lion salmon in Wash­ing­ton alone!”

I could tell that Archie had put on his glass­es so he could read from scratched notes, with the cadence and tone of a wide-eyed Bap­tist preach­er. “Your swarm­ing, un-capped Whale Watch Indus­try is tout­ing the same ol’ big lie about ‘vis­i­tor learn­ing is appre­ci­a­tion lead­ing to preser­va­tion’ that Sea World has used to jus­ti­fy its Orcacide over many decades. You have an untouch­able Recre­ation­al Sport Fish­ing mega-busi­ness that has all but elim­i­nat­ed fam­i­ly com­mer­cial fish­ing and burns more gas, to chase few­er, small­er, fish every year”.

“But, by far the biggest threat to salmon are the legion of biol­o­gists and politi­cians who agree to ignore ‘shift­ing base­line syn­drome’ about salmon num­bers over time in order to col­lect a pay­check. And best of all, the so-flag-wav­ing-proud, high­ly sub­si­dized farm­ers and ranch­ers and their cap­tive leg­is­la­tors, that nev­er give an inch to restore free flow­ing rivers and crip­pled salmon runs with­out a nasty fight. Or maybe even a made for TV Nation­al Refuge build­ing takeover!  They would rather bank on their stink­ing cows and sheep run­ning roughshod on pub­lic lands darn near free, than think about sav­ing salmon for the greater pub­lic good. Salmon, the mag­nif­i­cent life-blood of the entire Pacif­ic North West, are on the ropes.”

I lame­ly spit out “switch to de-cafe Archie! I agree with most of your rant, but how can any­one in good con­science, with an eye toward future gen­er­a­tions, do any­thing less than pull out all the stops at this stage?”

“Prob­lem is Champ, by the time lob­by­ists get done slow­ing these eleventh-hour efforts, the cas­cad­ing impacts of cli­mate change will be dis­com­bob­u­lat­ing every­thing we think of as nor­mal. The mass­es who blind­ly ignored the high-risk crap game being played by cor­po­ra­tions and lap­dog offi­cials gam­bling on your future, will be run­ning in cir­cles with their hair on fire about the eco­nom­ic col­lapse. Like it came out of nowhere just like Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na didn’t”. Archie calls me Champ because on one boozy evening of bore­dom, I best­ed him by forty sec­onds in a stu­pid “fer­ret down trousers” con­test that required a box of band aids and a full tube of Neosporin after­ward (no fer­rets were harmed).

“Hold on Archie, I have a lot of faith in our earnest Gov­er­nor work­ing toward the best for Ecotopians….”.

“Give me a break, Champ, we have legal weed in Alas­ka, too! A lot­ta good he will be try­ing to sell his plan to reluc­tant work­ing Wash­ing­to­ni­ans while out on the nation­al cam­paign trail. He’s try­ing to sell cli­mate change as an immi­nent cri­sis, to peo­ple who don’t care. Jad­ed reg­u­lar folks would rather have a root canal with­out drugs, than give up their big shiny SUVs, poi­soned green lawns, and garbage cans filled with plas­tic junk and food waste. Mean­while, back home three-piece suit lob­by­ists and East­ern side knuck­le-drag­ging politi­cians in Olympia will glee­ful­ly slash every tire on his pret­ty plan while he is away in Podunk, Ohio and Rust­belt, Michi­gan pos­ing in front of the cameras…”.

“Seri­ous­ly, you should know that the scores of Orca pro­tec­tion non-prof­its and ambu­lance-chas­er sci­en­tists in the end will accom­plish very lit­tle but self-employ­ment, obtuse pub­lished papers and slick bumper stick­ers while claim­ing to save these har­ried Black­fish. Of course, we will know vast­ly more about them than we do about any of the oth­er hun­dreds of organ­isms now being dri­ven to extinc­tion, but for what? Why don’t you all just leave those mag­nif­i­cent bug­gers alone so they can adapt, migrate away or per­ish with some dig­ni­ty sure­ly earned by sur­viv­ing just fine for 800,000 years?”

Before I could respond, I heard Archie grunt “hold on now”, and his chair scrape the floor while he fum­bled with a can of Prince Albert and rolling papers. I pic­tured him pulling on his rat­ty par­ka and head­ing out the arc­tic entry to stand and smoke, while proud­ly gaz­ing on his piles of blue-tarped junk and gloat­ing after suc­cess­ful­ly yank­ing my chain.

Feel­ing real­ly good about him­self, he blurt­ed a part­ing shot, “hey, always fun talk­ing with you Champ, any chance that you and your chi-chi friends down there could focus on just salmon or even ral­ly around sav­ing some­thing real­ly impor­tant like the Rusty Patched Bum­ble bee, rather than that one small group of Black­fish so very unlucky to live in those trashed waters?”

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.


  1. That was enter­tain­ing! Fun­ny and sober­ing all at the same time. Thanks for writ­ing it, Steve, and thanks for post­ing it,Tim.

    Comment by Shaun Hubbard on March 7, 2019 at 11:18 am
  2. Excel­lent Tim!

    Comment by David C Weed on March 23, 2019 at 1:40 pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0