Thursday, February 6, 2014

Before Wandering Wilbo, there was Doctor Orangutan. Or Gourmets Will Save the World.

Which could never be a character because a writer has claimed that lovely name for a sadist-masochist post of the briefest duration. I see someone has also published a song sung by the good doctor. If one has an infinite number of people in a room like Google that hears all songs and reads all posts, one writer is bound to write the word Doctor next to the word Orangutan, and one can ask Google to find him. Thus, it is unoriginal, and one must cast about for a different name.
The doctor traveled the world in the name of deep ecology and sustainability. He flew without contrails, zero-carbon footprint, in a converted Ford Tri-Motor called the Tri-Solar. He spent a lot of time counting birds, bringing butterflies to zoos before the cocoons hatched and investigating the myth of the flash flood fish, fish that appeared in a gout of desert rain and slept under rocks until the next river sprouted up in the arroyo. He took children skin diving through the chambers of ships, clean as a whistle, sunk to provide reef breeding environments for fish and coral. The kids could always return to the Tri-Motor, which worked well underwater as a submarine. As I read about deep ecology and sustainability, details could be added. Iron and steel added to the ocean actually has the effect of creating algae and water organisms that grab carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, bind it, and allow it to sink to the ocean bottom to be buried in the benthic layer.
The doctor has a base in the idea of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Sir Percy saves people doomed to the guillotine, the execution method of choice for the French Revolution. And why did he? As writers might ask, what gave Sir Percy his motivation, his drive. Why, it was jolly good sport to save an innocent life. More honest sport than fox hunting any day.
People don't save the earth because it's the right thing to do. People save the earth because it's fun and cool. People go on and on about how evil are the Koch Brothers. Give it a rest, people. Talking to the choir never saved the day. Just like the men living in Atlanta with the head phones, the Koch Brothers are "So So Def". Help the Koch Brothers find their way to a Scarlet Pimpernel complex about environmentalism. Doctor Orangutan loves to save the earth because he likes entertaining children, and it gives him a good reason to study and explore. Blokes like Ted Turner and Roxanne Quimby of Burt's Bees are buying up prairie and mountain forest as fast as their investments throw off cash.
That's why I like the Nature Conservancy so much. Buy that land properly and put it away. Ask for a donation of the development easements, and bring out the check book if that doesn't work. That's why I like Trout Unlimited so much. If fracking is bad for catch and release trout fishing, why do it? Republicans love Ducks Unlimited, especially the wild game dinners, and the floodlands of the Illinois river are turning back from diked farmland to wetlands. I hear the kayakers are agog, and kayakers are a great demographic. That's why I like Copper River Salmon, adored by oil men in Dallas. Nobody is catching a fish until enough have gone upstream to assure regeneration of the stock. Who's going to trash the river when people are paying premium prices around the world for this delicacy. Gourmets will save the earth.
Visiting Geneva, Indiana, home of the famous writer Gene Stratton-Porter, the Indiana DNR officer talked to all of us about the farmland purchased and then flooded to bring back the Limberlost Swamp Stratton-Porter wrote into fiction. We weren't directly trying to save the earth and increase habitat for birds and snakes. We were just trying to have a decent evening, a distraction before going to the town pub for a microbrew, which requires really clean water to make. The water should have some flavor characteristics from the river bed where it flows, too. Just ask anyone who drinks Ale 8 from Winchester, Kentucky. I'm betting they can taste the right combination of iron and calcium.  Just ask Bell's Brewery, who keeps tabs on that oil company trying to dredge pollution out of the Kalamazoo River in a half-arsed way. Save the earth, yes, especially if it makes the beer taste better. Just ask the Livery Brewing Company, which once a year makes barrels of Silver Queen Helles Lager using water from the Silver Queen spring, which flows on the grounds of the House of David in Benton Harbor. I've found assays from the 19th Century that reported traces of lithium.
In my travels, I made the acquaintance of a Lynnhaven River oysterman, who remembered how many barrels of oysters he packed from that estuary running through Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Lynnhaven Oysters, research on menus from New York City, had a great reputation as long as people enjoyed oysters in the hotels on that tony town. Runoff and non-point source pollution tanked the Lynnhaven beds, and led to restrictions on shell fish farming. Some folks looked at one another, thought, "We screwed up" and stopped letting grass fertilization and backyard oil changes from screwing up a gourmet brand.
Hey, they're collecting them from Broad Bay, thanks to an advocacy group called "Lynnhaven River Now". Shucks, what a good idea!

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