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E-M:/ LOON Pictured License Plates Announced by DNR: But Consider the BIG PICTURE. . .Is it a Loony Idea?



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Enviro-Mich message from joonmck <joonmck@gateway.net>
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Dear EMers,

Dateline, Lansing (March 4, 2001): "Beginning April 2, Michigan drivers
will be able to show their support for the state's endangered,
threatened and nongame wildlife by buying a wildlife habitat license
plate. The common loon. . . .will be featured on license plates.

Ray Rustem, a DNR spokesman said, "The loon is evolving from a static
symbol on the tax form to a moving representation of citizen support for
endangered and threatened wildlife. (Lansing State Journal, 3/4/01)
In other words, cars, trucks and SPRAWLISH DEVELOPMENT, largely
responsible for depopulating this precious bird in the first place, will
now salute the ancient mariner in a daily reminder of what we are losing
(in large part because of THEM: the vehicles bearing the LOON icon). 
Like the Joni Mitchell song about putting a tree in a tree museum. . .
.Or the fact that many new housing developments  are named after what
they've destroyed (THINK DEER PARK RUN, WOLVERINE ESTATES; GLEN VIEW
CONDOMINIUMS).   

Few of us step back to look at the BIG PICTURE. Why? It's inherently
SUBVERSIVE. Instead we're teased and tormented with these tasty tidbits
of ecological trivia while unconsciously we yearn to see how it all fits
together. 

In my life I have learned that TOTALISTIC perspectives are ANATHEMA  in
our dominant institutions, be they governmental, medical, educational or
corporate. 

In government, a regulatory approach predominates, focusing on one
chemical, one exposure or one type of intervention (HERE THINK OF
RESTAURANT INSPECTIONS OR THE ARSENIC CONTROVERSEY). This prevents local
public health officials from stepping back to take a look at the big
picture (THOSE THAT DO, EVEN THOSE WHO ARE HIRED TO DO SO, ARE SOON
ORDERED TO CEASE AND DESIST AND ARE THEN SUBJECT TO A SMEAR CAMPAIGN BY
WORKPLACE MOBSTERS). 

In medicine, physicians, poorly trained in environmental health to begin
with, rarely comply with laws that require them to report workplace
injuries to the state (ONLY 2% DID SO IN ALL OF MICHIGAN LAST YEAR), let
alone trace the environmental etiologies of the presenting complaint
(HERE THINK OF THE LAST TIME A MAINSTREAM ONCOLOGIST TALKED TO A PATIENT
ABOUT THE POSSIBLE DANGERS OF PLASTIC WRAP, THE LOCAL NUCLEAR POWER
PLANT OR PESTICIDES). 

In education, universities employ the language of stewardship while
often acting as a community's biggest polluter (as well as ideological
purveyor market ideologies that damage the environment). (HERE THINK OF
MSU'S COAL-FIRED ENERGY PLANT, THE PACKAGING CURRICULUM OR THE
BIOTECH/MSU NEXUS) 

And the corporate sector, driven by the need to realize surplus value
(and their subset: profits), often dismiss their critics with the smug
interrogative, "but, where are the bodies?"

Environmentalists, like us, work at the interstices of official and
unofficial knowledge, seeking to redefine what counts and remedy what
ails. The bodies are right there, inhabited by people with real worries,
injuries and disease.

In Solidarity,

Brian McKenna, Ph.D.
Environmentalist,
Anthropologist &
Public Citizen

"If there are connections everywhere, why do we persist in turning
dynamic, interconnected phenomena into static, disconnected things?"
            -- Eric R. Wolf, Anthropologist (1923-1999)
 
"Insanity in individuals is rare, in nations, epochs
and eras it is the rule."
             -- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Philosopher (1844 - 1900)


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