I recently posted a blog column about the increasing appearance of graffiti in national and state parks — and the need to ramp up punishments to deter this defacing of our natural wonders and wilderness. The last story concerned Andre Saraiva, an internationally known graffiti artist, who “tagged” and bragged about his own defacing of nature. He spray painted a boulder at the Joshua Tree National Park. Now authorities are looking for a teen who spray painted a rock face in Idaho to impress a girl and get her to go with him to the school prom. It should not be too different to investigate this particular crime, but the question remains the punishment that should be meted out.
Yesterday I celebrated my birthday on the 6th with a birthday hike on one of my favorite trails: Old Rag in the Shenandoah. Since it was raining the day before (the reason for the the belated hike), there was a deep fog blanketing the mountain. It produced a truly enchanting look in the forest as I climbed to the summit. At the summit, the sun suddenly appeared and burned away the fog — exposing the signature vista of the Old Rag.
There is a growing war between environmentalists and graffiti artists over “tagging” natural settings and parks. Hiking is my main pastime and I have long been mystified by people who go to gorgeous natural settings and degrade them with their graffiti. However, some “artists” are now heralding the move to add graffiti to natural trails and sites. One of them is Andre Saraiva is an internationally known graffiti artist who showed how he tagged a boulder at the Joshua Tree National Park. In my view, he should be arrested but he and other graffiti artists think that this is a matter of celebration and pride to ruin these sites for the rest of us. Saraiva appears to believe that some of us go on hikes to see his childish scriblings on tree and rock. Most people try to escape such urban mess by taking to the trails and Saraiva and others are committed to degrading nature in the very same way. The solution is simple in my view: arrest him.
We have previously discussed the trend of citizens being charged for rescue in federal and state parkland. I have always been a critic of the practice because rescues are part of the costs of maintaining these parks. Many volunteers participate in such rescues and largely oppose the charging of the victims, even when they made negligent decisions. The latest is Edward Bacon, 59 year old man from Michigan, who is appealing the imposition of a $9,300 bill for his rescue at the White Mountain National Forest.
There are two more disturbing cases highlighting the abuse of animals and the limited sanctions available in such cases. In Anchorage, three men were arrested after they allegedly killed a yearling moose after tormenting it in a public park area. In Australia, two men were arrested for trying to burn a small protected animal alive for fun. In both cases, there is a considerable gap between the horrific actions and the penalties under the law.
We recently discussed how Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, mocked the overwhelming consensus of scientists around the world on global warming. There have been similar denials of the link between earthquakes and the highly profitable practice of injecting wastewater into the ground from oil and gas production. Now, Oklahoma geologists have found strong evidence of the long-suggested link between waste injection and the massive increase in earthquakes in the state.