John Nalivka; Connecting the Dots

John Nalivka
A Few Thoughts

As an economist, I first became involved in federal lands controversies when I completed an economic impact statement for a Central Nevada ranch in litigation involving wild horses. That was 1983 – 32 years ago. That was by no means the first controversy between the BLM and ranchers in the West. In fact, the case can be made the controversy started when the BLM was formed in 1946 and the relationship in most cases has only become increasingly contentious between any private entities harvesting the nation’s natural resources, renewable or otherwise. In fact, hardly a week goes by when a new issue doesn’t surface on the nearly 250 million acres of land administered by the BLM.

There was a time when controversy on federal lands involved groups of activists or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that were more easily identified. The list often included the Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth, or Natural Resources Defense Council. These groups have increased in numbers and new NGOs are constantly added to the list. We can readily see this. However, in addition to the “usual suspects” with the known agenda, the entire controversy surrounding environmental issues has grown exponentially with the phrases “sustainability” and “global warming” intertwined in the discussion. The social activists have even taken a seat at the table pressing their agenda with the connection between global warming, poverty and hunger. Oh, let’s not forget the animal rights activists. Suddenly, the local issue becomes part of a bigger global initiative.

In a recently released study, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) indicated that consumption of processed meats significantly increases the risk of cancer. There are several misleading statements in the report and it has been widely taken to task with the WHO even doing some back-peddling. But, be that as it may, the WHO has once again created a media blitz connecting red meat and cancer. And oh, by the way, the release of this information is right before the upcoming global warming talks in Paris. Was this coincidental? I don’t think so! It’s just another dot to be connected to global warming. So, yes, I believe the red meat cancer connection has become further evidence in the minds of the global warming evangelists that cattle grazing must come to an end.

The NGOs have made the resource use conversation very complex. This only complicates any opportunity for reasonable conclusions. That is a long and twisted path since 1983 when I testified about the economic impact of wild horses on the Twin Springs Ranch in Nevada in District Court and the path is not likely to get any easier.