The question of “Is there an environmental cause for which you would consider breaking the law? Argue with evidence that this particular cause would justify civil disobedience.” is a very interesting one. Edward Abbey’s essay “Eco-Defense” compares the invasion of an intruder upon personal property to the invasion and deforestation of public lands. His call to action is defending our forests (eco-defense) or fighting back by spiking trees using a sledge hammer and 60 penny nails. While his heart is in the right place (saving our forests, that is,) this method of eco-defense can cause great harm to loggers. In fact, following the 1987 injury of a California mill worker, tree spiking was declared a federal felony in the United States (1988.)
The act of tree spiking is breaking the law. It is an example of civil disobedience first used by members of Earth First! in the early 1980s, and is still practiced today. Earth First! is a radical environmental extremist group. Founded in 1980, Earth First! is just one of several environmental extremist groups in the United States that encourage civil disobedience and commit violent acts against persons or property in support of ecological or environmental causes.
Radical environmentalism first gained popularity during the 1960s. Radical environmentalists believe that capitalism and population growth is responsible for the destruction of nature and if left unchecked, will lead to the complete degradation of our environment. Eco-terrorists (as they are called) believe that human beings are just another member of the biological community and that all living things have rights and deserve protection under the law. There are a number of radical environmentalist organizations which include:
- Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. Advocating the phasing out of the human race. Due to crowded conditions and resource shortages, Earth would be better off without humans, and in turn, humans should stop breeding.
- Advocating nuclear disarmament and engages in civil disobedience. Members have chained themselves to coal power plants and have made headlines blocking Japanese whaling ships from refueling.
- Earth Liberation Front (ELF); the Animal Liberation Front (ALF); the Revolutionary Cells—Animal Liberation Brigade (RCALB); the Animal Rights Militia (ARM); the Justice Department (not the government’s.) These organizations are animal and environmental extremist groups who have bombed, committed arson, and attempted assassinations in order to rescue animals upon which tests are being performed.
To answer the question “Is there an environmental cause for which you would consider breaking the law? Argue with evidence that this particular cause would justify civil disobedience,” I felt the need to explore an environmental concern that was more recent. A real concern in which there is not a lot of documented examples of civil disobedience or law-breaking to date, and question whether this cause could provoke such behavior.
Asian Carp are freshwater fish, native to Europe and Asia. They are stomachless fish with toothless jaws that feed mainly upon invertebrates and vegetation. Carp are known as Cyprinid. The Cyprinid family includes over 2,000 species from small fish called minnows and goldfish to larger fish such as carp and koi. Cyprinid is the most diverse and dynamic family of fish in the world. The largest cyprinid is the Giant Barb, which can grow up to 9.8 ft. Danionella translucida is the smallest of carp, reaching .47 in. Silver Carp are notorious for leaping out of water. Sensitive to noise or vibration, this fish can jump to 8–10 feet into the air.
For over 4000 years, Cyprinid have been celebrated in Chinese culture, gracing gardens and appearing in literature and artwork. In Chinese mythology, the carp swim upstream against the river’s strong current, but few are capable or brave enough for the final leap over a waterfall. If a carp successfully makes the jump, it is transformed into a powerful dragon. A Chinese dragon’s large, conspicuous scales indicate its origin from the carp. The Chinese dragon has long been a symbol of great and benevolent magical power.
While carp are considered “bottom feeders,” many people eat them. In China, carp is considered a delicacy. Here in America, there are mixed reviews. The Outdoor Channel praises the consumption of carp as “the No. 1 source of protein in the world.” Schafer Fisheries (Thomson, IL) processes carp into steaks, filets, and a variety of products, including fertilizer. Others think they taste like mud.
Asian carp was first introduced into the United States in the 1970s. In order to control weed and parasite growth, fish farmers in the southern U.S. imported Asian Carp to clean up scum in catfish ponds. Asian Carp eventually managed to get into the Mississippi River and established breeding populations. As the Asian Carp is both a terrific reproducer and highly tolerant of pollution, it spread quickly through waters in which most native species cannot live. In the early 1990s, biologists exposed control groups of carp to 1600 chemicals commonly found in U.S. waters. Only 135 of the pollutants killed all the carp. Due to its rapid spread, Asian Carp are now considered an invasive species. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Asian Carp are labeled an Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS.) ANS are “nonindigenous species that threaten the diversity or abundance of native species, the ecological stability of infested waters, and/or any commercial, agricultural, aquacultural, or recreational activities dependent on such waters.”
The issue of Asian Carp is now a debated environmental cause for which people are passionate and some are taking action. Most people hate them. I accessed several excerpts and blogs such as these:
“Standing on clear-cut hillsides with a bucket of garbage in each hand, they looked down on the rivers, saw carp swirling happily in the mess humans had created, and made a correlation – albeit the wrong one – between the rise of carp and the fall of game fish. Either ignorant of or blind to the damages they themselves had wrought on the landscape, people looked past the dredged and straightened channels, drained wetlands, eroded riverbanks, and waters laden with human and industrial waste, saw carp roiling in the shallows, and accused them of wrecking the water.”
“Another potential environmental catastrophe, thanks to the fools that brought this fish into America in the first place, and the predictable and the usual failure of our various governments to take drastic action. I just wish that the people responsible could be made to suffer big-time for their incredible stupidity. I am just enraged!”
Now in 23 states, Asian Carp pose a threat to our Minnesota rivers and lakes. While no breeding populations have been detected, individual fish have been caught near the Twin Cities and St. Croix River. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been working to slow the spread of invasive carp since the early 2000s, but began a renewed effort in 2011 under the direction of Gov. Mark Dayton and DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. The MN DNR dictates:
“Invasive carp captures must be reported to the DNR immediately. Call 651-587-2781 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please take a photo and make arrangements with the DNR to transport the carp to the nearest fisheries office. To keep invasive carp for personal use, download the Special Permit to Possess Prohibited Invasive Species of Carp.”
If Asian Carp are truly invading our waters, there is a legitimate concern for the survival of our other native fish, mollusks, plants, mammals, insects, reptiles, and wildlife. The Stop Asian Carp Act of 2011 and AsianCarp. US have sanctioned a variety of means to combat the invasive Asian Carp epidemic. Throughout the U.S., field crews have started a combination of trap netting, gill netting, and electrofishing to slow down the Asian Carp invasion. Popular Science informs its readers of several ways to stop Asian Carp which include poisoning, shooting, and trapping them. There are many calls to action to kill Asian Carp on the Web, including 23,000 videos on UTube. The Peoria Carp Hunters (5900 results alone) demonstrate killing Asian Carp by wielding spiked armour while waterskiing behind a boat. Tom Wells uses swords and boomerangs to behead leaping Asian Carp, while protecting his 2nd Amendment rights. Jimmy O’Neal takes his target practice out onto the water in his speedboat, shooting at Asian Carp with a rifle. Read his viewer comments:
“fourteen asian carp disliked this video”
“Not sure what your comment is saying but yeah, it’s funny fourteen asian carp disliked this video. If I lived close to where these carp are I would probably try this.”
“The Asian Carp has a new name: Skeet Fish”
“This is the funniest thing I’ve seen all year. Good job!”
“I think you shot someone. They were sitting on land watching you.”
“what if one of you guys blow the driver’s head off when doing that haha just be all in the zone aye fish jumps straight for the driver and you go for it (bang!!) driver’s head is gone”
“Looks like epic fun! Questionable legality and safety…but obscenely fun.”
I feel this environmental cause could be considered breaking the law. Both government and private citizens’ groups are working hard to control (or eradicate) the Asian Carp. What sort of ramifications could happen when people introduce toxic poisons into our waters? How will it affect our prized native fish and wildlife? What about shooting the Asian Carp? Are boaters, fishermen, and recreationists at risk dodging stray bullets at the lake? Haven’t we enough problems with guns in our streets?
I feel these acts could justify civil disobedience. As stated earlier, eco-terrorists believe that human beings are just another member of the biological community and that all living things have rights and deserve protection under the law. Could this particular cause justify civil disobedience should an eco-terrorist group decide to take action against those who kill Asian Carp? We protect the pretty Spotted Owl. Yet, the pretty Spotted Owl is a predator. Why should the Asian Carp be eradicated? Asian Carp are simply acting on instinct, swimming and reproducing. I don’t feel the Asian Carp deliberately decided to invade North America, killing everything in its water path. It is true that we don’t revere the Asian Carp as the Chinese do. I feel we must consider the possibility that there is a potential for the justification of civil disobedience and that there could be a logical and safe solution for all involved.
Edward Abbey openly calls for spiking trees, a practice that can lead to serious bodily harm and is illegal. Like many others out there, he is asking the reader to break the law and participate in civil disobedience. If given enough time with the Asian Carp invasion and subsequent control (or eradication,) I feel there could be another Edward Abbey out there, calling his readers to participate in civil disobedience by actively working to sabotage, or worse yet, harm those who are trying to control the Asian Carp population.
(2008). Retrieved from AsianCarp: http://www.asiancarp.org/
Bombshock. (2013). The Begginners Guide to Tree Spiking. Retrieved from Bombshock: http://www.bombshock.com/bad_ideas/the_begginners_guide_to_tree_spiking.html
Circle of Blue. (n.d.). Tracking the Threat and Politics of Asian Carp. Retrieved from Circle of Blue: http://www.circleofblue.org/tracking-the-threat-and-politics-of-asian-carp/
Invasive Species Info. (2016, May 18). Asian Carps. Retrieved from Invasive Species Info: https://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/aquatics/main.shtml
Kraft, A. (2013, April 29). Five Ways To Stop Asian Carp. Retrieved from Popular Science: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-04/five-ways-stop-asian-carp
National Park Service. (n.d.). History of Common Carp in North America. Retrieved from National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/miss/learn/nature/carphist.htm
ONeal, J. (2014, December 19). Asian Carp Target Practice. Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2AJ9UiJ5oc
Scribol. (2016). Top 4 Environmental Extremist Groups. Retrieved from Scribol: http://scribol.com/news-and-politics/politics/top-4-environmental-extremist-groups/
Stop Carp. (n.d.). The Solutions. Retrieved from Stop Carp: https://stopcarp.org/the-solutions/
Suchan, M. (2013, January 31). Carp, It’s What’s For Dinner. Retrieved from Outdoor Channel: http://outdoorchannel.com/article.aspx?id=12548
Wells, T. (2013, January 12). Kill of the Week – Boomerang vs. Asian Carp. Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7Z35X7tFBM
Zacandnate. (2011, April 27). Peoria Carp Hunters. Retrieved from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hN2gMP3Q2Z4