Objection to "Into the Outdoors" Statement in May 1 issue
To the Editor,
As someone who has looked forward to Chris Henderson's column for decades, I find it distressing that his most recent effort contained a gratuitous, and I would say ridiculous and mean spirited swipe at people, “who love to squawk about climate change.”
Like Henderson, I've spent a good bit of my life traipsing in the woods and along the streams and rivers. Like Henderson, I have spent a considerable amount of time picking up trash along the roads of my community (Cherry Valley). And, like Henderson, I've also picked up a good bit of trash along trails and beside streams and rivers. There have been times when my day-pack was loaded with more trash than my own stuff (and I carry cameras and other gear).
To single out climate change “squawkers” in his silly musing, is to ignore tons (and I really do mean tons) of evidence that the problem is pervasive and not the fault of one particular demographic, and, as I'll posit later, folks who believe the climate change science are not likely suspects.
When I walk along the streams and rivers, I often find myself cleaning up after some “sportsmen.” I've carried out bait containers, tangled webs of fishing line, snack wrappers, lures, broken rods, cigarette butts and all sorts junk some of these “outdoorsmen” lug in but are too lazy to lug out.
The same can be said of some hunters. I've carried out more than my fair share of spent shotgun casings, shell boxes, soft drink cans, coffee cups, candy wrappers, and styrofoam food trays.
And these assaults don't only happen in the wild places I like to frequent. They also happen along the road where I live. I hate cleaning up after the influx of hunters in the late autumn.
I could use Henderson's faulty logic and wonder about people like him.
But here's another thing. Henderson's musing ignores the demographic of place. According to the Pew Research Center, climate skeptics (those who reject the science on climate change) are older, whiter, more rural and more likely to be male. That description sounds remarkably like this corner of the world (and Henderson – and me, for that matter). It also sounds remarkably similar to the demographics of litterbugs (except the old).
He also ignores the research that has been done on litter. The state of Tennessee found that men are more likely to willfully litter than women. West Virginia found that uncovered trucks and boats were among the 8 worst litter sources – and we have lots of both. Forty-three percent of all Americans admit to littering and 8% of American men admit to littering daily. Eighty-one percent of littering is intentional. Old guys like Henderson and me are less likely to litter, but guys up to about 50 are three times more likely than us. Youngsters under 19 up to 36, are the worst culprits.
So, who has a greater opportunity to litter? I certainly don't think the climate change squawkers were worthy of special attention. Polling has found that people who people who have embraced an ethos of protection of place (for instance, the “squawkers” and sportsmen) are less likely to litter.
Litter is defined (among several definitions) as making a place untidy with rubbish. Chris Henderson's column will still be something I read but I hope he will consider taking the rubbish out of future columns.