While we’re on the subject of statistical sophistry, the Bush administration provides another stunning example of the “garbage in, garbage out” axiom, by once again abusing math in the service of undermining the Endangered Species Act. As reported today in the New York times (“New Risks for Salmon“), the administration proposed rolling back restrictions on millions of acres in the Pacific Northwest that had been designated critical salmon habitat just four years ago. To justify this policy reversal, the administration continues its established habit of distorting science:
Earlier this year, for instance, the administration proposed to count millions of hatchery-raised fish as wild fish – a bit of mathematical casuistry that would instantly make wild populations seem healthier than they are, undercut the need to keep wild salmon on the endangered species list and give the green light to federal agencies to drop protections against logging, homebuilding and other forms of commercial development.
Sure, why face the real problems surrounding our region’s steadily declining wild salmon populations when you can fix the math on paper by redefining the word “wild”?
Of course this is the kind of reality distortion — hatchery salmon are “wild”, recounts are not more accurate than counts — that we’ve come to expect from neo-con politicians, pundits, and pop-pundit wannabes (like Stefan), relentless in their determination to create the illusion that the real world jibes with their ideologically-pure, free-market fantasies.
And on a more disturbing, local note, just a word of warning to all you self-described “Dinocrats” out there, smug in your declaration of partisan independence. Governor-suspect Rossi ran on a platform consisting almost entirely of deregulation, and if you think he’s going to balance the radical anti-environmental agenda being imposed from DC, you’ve got another thing coming.
But then, in another four years we can save wild salmon again, this time by extending the definition of “wild” to include particularly randy farm-raised fish.