As an amateur conservationist, naturalist and environmentalist I live my life in relative simplicity, and consciously keep my consumption of products and goods at a low level. I enjoy the natural world on many levels, from hiking to gardening; I promote kindness to animals; I’ve gone vegan – this, and more,  places me on those lists without being labeled a tree-hugging wacko. Since I strive to live by the credo ‘everything good within reason’, this especially holds true in the area of environmentalism. For me, to be an environmentalist does not mean that I need to believe in every cause that every environmentalist puts forth. Like all of life’s big challenges, I want to be able to choose which mountain to die on.

Saving the delta smelt is not one of those mountains. During California’s recent three year drought in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta, instead of the state looking for ways to help suffering farmers who were losing farms and facing upwards of 40% unemployment, the Endangered Species Committee, also known as the “God Squad,” was allowed to impose ‘water curbs”, thereby reducing flow from pumping stations to parched agricultural areas. These measures were implemented to save the delta smelt, a small fish who they believed was endangered from being caught and killed in the irrigation pumping stations.

Since then, The Pacific Legal Foundation has petitioned the governator to remove the water curbs. However, like most issues, it’s complicated, with some wondering whether the smelt is the real culprit leading to the loss of water in the area; that perhaps the present problems would be the same from just the three-year drought alone; or, that farmers should simply learn to adapt to changes in their environment. In any case, for California, a state whose financial crisis is reaching the breaking point, the delta smelt issue is just one more example of how over regulation can have disastrous outcomes for all.

So, do we save a little fish or save the livelihood and homes of thousands of farmers? Though a complicated issue, the decision is clear. Common sense and reason must prevail. For some of you, please do not tell me you care about these fish as you – yes, you meat-eating hypocrites – bite down on your flesh sandwich in one hand and hold up your Save the Planet placard with the other. Don’t screech about the loss of these fish while millions of factory farmed chickens, pigs, sheep and cows are treated cruelly and butchered in appalling manners each minute of every day. And isn’t it ironic that the waste from these same factory farmed animals is the leading contributor to ground water pollution in the world? Perhaps this is the mountain you should make your stand on.

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