Barriers and Beliefs

How the greed usurps responsible living.

There are 75,000 dams on rivers in the United States. That is essentially one damn completed every day since Thomas Jefferson was president. Wild salmon and steelhead are still, literally beating their heads against the dams here in the pacific NW for the last 100 years. Their nature tells them to complete their life cycle they must swim upstream to the gravelly clear mountain pools. They must! Lack of care or foresight has yet put a barrier in front of nature—and it was good, very good. Look at all the happiness all that hydro power has enabled!

But we’re used to that life, aren’t we? Are we just freaking insane? Is “civilization” natural in any way?

The salmon and steelhead already know what to do—and so do you. But, dangerous ideas and words have placed a barrier, a complex set of dams that you must navigate in order to reach your destination, and by faith we keep beating our heads against the bulkhead and going nowhere. No foresight, no insight, just keep driving. I think we all know better at this point, that to believe faith, an unnatural barrier to the progress of human nature will serve us any longer. We believed the dams would make life better?—time to reconsider.

A few of the fish still make it through. About 8% of their historic, natural highs. Just enough to hang on. On the bright side, man and his genius supplement the runs with hatchery fish—copycats that do not enhance the natural cycle in anyway, competing too, against nature. Sound familiar?

A few of the dams are now being breached and the few natural fish, those who have held on against the human disregard for a century, are coming back everywhere we have the decency to leave them alone, not to mention the complete devastation of native cultures that thrived on these banks for millennia, that were removed (for their own good, of course)

Hoards of petroglyphs and natural history buried above Glen Canyon Dam

All buried underwater and bleached white by the calcification of excess evaporation, thousands of buried treasures in mans great care. The reservoirs are becoming dead zones of silt. The Colorado River frequently now does not reach the ocean.

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs breaking the faith trap.

69 thoughts on “Barriers and Beliefs”

  1. I needed something to ruminate on while composing my sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Gaia”.

    What would happen if most or all those dams were removed?

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    1. Are we talking about human impact of dam removal? The benefit of whole ecosystems, even vastly effecting the ocean habitat below is remarkable. The Elwah River used to have 400,000 salon return annually. It dropped to 3000, which in turn effected the nurture of a vast region.
      Interesting article but still, with the Elwah we’ve only seen one cycle (4-5 years) and the raptors, bears, and everything in between is coming back for miles around. https://therevelator.org/elwha-dam-removal/

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        1. Of course humans think they benefit from the dams. They are the only ones really, except for some invasive species that tolerate more stagnant waters. Did all this power generated make life better? Hard to say for those who’ve never lived without it. I’ve lived several years of my life without it and would easily say for me it was the best time ever. What are you getting at?

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          1. I doubt many would care enough about fish to give up any benefit from the dams, unless it were a very marginal benefit. Most people are very detached from issues of ecology nowadays. They just hear something about salmon, something about some other animals somewhere, and zone out. They don’t care about the wider effects. You’d have to come up with an argument to do away with them that would convince people that would be effected. Or just wait until our decaying infrastructure and overall decline takes care of the problem, I think that is more likely.

            The petroglyphs being submerged also bothers me. Those likely marked a sacred site. Even now, known native sacred sites are in constant danger of being defiled. The government and companies do not care, and don’t know the severity of what they are doing.

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            1. The biologists learning how the dying and eaten salmon fed a vast ecosystem was pretty incredible. Something I hadn’t thought of. Those nutrients spread all over the region by different forms of wildlife, promoting plant life and landscapes miles from the river.
              I remember reading about a Kogi elder saying how the dams were killing the land, that the river was alive. Everybody thought he was nuts, but biology is starting to agree with him. Thanks buddy.

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            2. The Ainu historically relied on salmon as a main source of food. They grew some things, foraged, and hunted, but none of that was a substitute for the migrating salmon. But things changed. Mills put enough saw dust in the river that it killed the fish. Dams blocked the migrations. The Ainu were also moved around and forbidden from fishing and hunting in many areas that they relied on. Big companies took over a lot of the land, or the government gave it to others. Coastal fishing was taken over by industrial fishing fleets. The effect of this was a rapid breakdown of their society, which led to a lot of other problems for them(disease, alcoholism, poverty). This is the case I know most about regarding the effects on humans. It also had an awful effect on other species, because the salmon migrations were a vital part of the ecological cycle.

              The only reason any of this is sustainable is burning a ton of energy and a lot of artifice. Otherwise, we have impoverished the land and knocked out our own supports. How many people could sustain themselves along the Colorado or anywhere out West? Probably a lot less than the native tribes had prior to contact. We can’t sustain what we do have without measures that are bad in the long term. Even where I live, toxins from farm runoff and industrial pollution are in the rivers. And in many places, it is much worse.

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  2. Here’s a serious question. I love the natural world as much as anyone. Part of me would love to see every river run wild. But, I also care about human flourishing. We need electricity. Hydro-electric power leaves less of a carbon footprint than things like coal or oil.. To take this a step further, I used to live in fracking country. I hated the sight of those wells. With the flames shooting out, it reminded me of Mordor.

    But at the same time, I know we need natural gas which does leave less of a carbon footprint than coal or oil.

    And, with the whole uncertain and dangerous situation in the middle east, I’m certainly happy we are energy independent. This may keep us from war.

    Fossil fuels for all their downsides, have helped lift people from poverty, more so in the third world.

    Right now, I don’t think that solar and wind energy can meet all of our needs, and they remain expensive. So, I’m feeling very conflicted. How can we balance our legitimate and needed energy needs with concern for the environment?

    What do you think about the fish cannons getting salmon over the dams? What about moving more in the direction of nuclear energy to supply our electrical needs. It is said to be safe if waste is stored properly, and very green.

    This all seems to me like many things, complicated and nuanced.

    I want to add that I feel that one of the best things we can do to help the planet is to eat a mostly whole food, plant based diet. This would help reduce CO2, as well as be much better for human health.

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    1. We don’t really “need” any of these things, but like everything else humans take it too far. We “need” fewer people—a downtic in baby production. That is what will save us. Oh I think we will survive until the bitter end, eking out a few extra years to live it in polluted garbage and busy concrete wastelands. Humans have proven they can do nothing to help anything. We may occasionally reverse the damage we’re doing.
      The best years of my life have been without electricity and gas.
      And since there is no Jesus coming to save us, it’s up to us. We already had heaven here in earth, but we obviously didn’t think it was good enough.
      Like the hatchery fish, inbred (same family of fishes return to the hatchery every year) genetically inferior, and invasive to nature. That’s how we “help” everything accelerate its demise. “Helping” the Native no longer be native. Sound familiar?

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      1. Jim, I’m feeling much more optimistic and hopeful. I think as poverty rates and infant mortality fall, over time so does over population.

        In a sense, we had heaven on earth. Nature is beautiful and wild, but it can also be severe and unforgiving toward humans. Early humans were very much at the mercy of the elements. Their life spans could be brutish and short. They died of illness that can be easily cured today.

        I think we can find this balance between the conservation and stewardship of the earth, and human flourishing. Both are really inter-connected.

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  3. i appreciate your love for the salmon, one of the poignant emergent phenomena of the natural world. right up there with the Monarch butterfly. it seems man is doing everything backwards. like Robert Frost said it “we love the things we use, and use the things we love”. there’s our “civilization” in a nutshell.

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  4. Jim jam, damn dams! Not happy, Jan!
    I guess to corral the fish down a dead end river sure makes it easier to be a lazy fisher man.
    Caves need to be made if theyre to be exited, Plato. Wide eyes opened are blind and stunned, numb to the world we breached and bleached to cleanse of customs, such is the legacy of the enlightenment of man.
    We need some time to heal, lie in the shade. Are the caves ready? Descend the stairwell to explore annihilation. Were going on an adventure, a salty karst caste expedition.

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  5. The foresight of and planning for possible/probable impacts on ecosystems—natural systems that on many levels sustain life, feed our families, provide remedies/cures for diseases, et al—with these MASSIVE structures, on the level of damming up the Nile River and all its major problems and consequences, is too often overlooked or intentionally distorted by wealthy campaigns and/or bogus scientific panels paid by benefiting companies and interests. Those corporations, their CEO’s and executives, and their shareholders would rather put long-term risks/disasters on the back, top-shelf hidden rather than not acquiring the monetary rewards today and immediate future.

    Therefore, none of it matters to them UNTIL their own kitchen tables or doctor’s vaccines do not fill for themselves or their own children. This is all sadly reminiscent of our insatiable addiction to plastics and petroleum products/byproducts. 😞

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    1. Your comment really hits here closer than you think. Nestlé claimed the rights to an entire tributary on the Columbia a few years ago to start a $50million water bottling plant. We blocked it (Oregon Governer listened) but that was an estimated millions more bottles every year—from one facility. I hate plastic, especially single use crap.

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  6. Wow. That’s a a lot of dams.

    Jefferson was my second favorite president pipped only to the post by TR… whose insane vigor and general awesomeness is truly staggering to me.

    Your constitution is amazing though. For is time and as a blueprint for society.

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      1. No. It must have seemed like a limitless resource back then. That’s also why I prefer TR, he set up the national parks and forests at least.

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            1. Whoops! I am very sorry Jo! My bad. On my WordPress Reader your tiny Gravitar pic makes it difficult for my crappy eyesight to accurately determine gender. So sorry Sir, not Ma’am! Geezzz, I’m so embarrassed. 😬😞

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          1. Jim and Jo…

            But let’s keep things about Teddy Roosevelt in perspective. He was a direct and passive contributor to the Banana Wars of the early 20th-century, which eventually led to the U.S. plundering Central and South American resources while returning very little to nothing BACK to those peoples. And in turn by the 1970’s and 80’s up to now began our horrible immigration/refugee problems from the south and creating corruption, drug lords, and cartels. Our mercantile-corporate greed, passively allowed by TR and other prominent Americans, certainly opened up a whole new Genie that we may never get back in the bottle.

            Just a friendly reminder and Sirs😉

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            1. You speak true. On the whole I like to believe Teddy did more good. Or rather, I suppose his intention was to do good and that his actions were usually deeply considered (having read his dairy I believe this to be true). Especially for the… ethically (I guess) considerations and appreciations of the time.

              I think very few of get through life without negatively impacting the planet. And the law of unintended consequences bites down hard.

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            2. You are indeed right Jo, hardly any great figures of history like Jefferson, TR, FDR, Amelia Earhart, Susan B. Anthony, MLK, Obama, Dennis “The Worm” Rodman (who I do indeed like), or one of my personal all-time favorite pseudo-Conservatives: Colin Powell… escape history without 1-2 blotches (or scars?) on their record and legacy. It’s seemingly impossible, especially as the U.S. President. There’s no effin way I’d be able to give up my own personal privacy, 24/7 for four or eight years!!!! Oh HELL NO!!!

              But studying everything I could about Colin Powell, he really disappointed me in how he handled the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” debate about gays/lesbians in the military. Nonetheless, had he ever been a choice to vote for as President, he had my vote for sure! In fact, for several past Presidents with the exception of Obama, Powell has always been the best, most excellent choice, in my personal opinion. But damn those blotches/scars on your record never go away when EVERYTHING is exposed freely to the public. 😳

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            3. I would have voted for Powell. I quite liked him.

              Although… to be honest I really liked Obama in the beginning… I was swept up in the fervor and hype… and my complete and utter contempt for George W.

              My mind now plays tricks on me. I see George W as this kindly (if not a little doddering) uncle two dispenses sweets to Michelle at funerals. And all my annoyance is projected at the current incumbent.

              So… maybe the problem is more me. And that I prefer historical figures (whose reign I didn’t live through and could criticize on a daily basis) or people that had potential (like Powell or Ron Paul) but didn’t make it but whose ability is maxed out in my mind.

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            4. Yup. I’m… nominally South African. Although mostly German. Although to be completely honest… I hate nationalism… so mostly I just refer to myself as human… that geographically domiciles at bottom end of Africa.

              I love American history. And to a degree your politics. Mostly because I like freedom and western philosophy… and as a huge experiment the USA is an amazing petri-dish of possibility.

              That’s not to say the States doesn’t have its problems, but what prototype doesn’t? I mean I worry you guys have lost your way a bit (in terms of being this paragon for the aspirant… I blame this largely on the lack of a decent enemy, ie the Soviet Union)… but on the whole its an amazing story.

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            5. HAH! Dude, are we long lost brotha’s some how from different or the same cousin-mothas!? 😄 I usually label myself as a Freethinking Humanist and I too loathe hyper-patriotism to nationalism! In fact, if I get the chance in some type of brief UN-shallow dialogue with strangers, I want to tell them, introduce myself like this: Hello. Wonderful to meet you! I am Dwain from planet Earth. How can we collaborate to make life better!?

              Well, I thank you for your optimism in us Americans so horribly divided now by idiotic Populism, Superstition over Science, and convicted murders of Expertise and Intellectualism! 🙄 We have certainly had our moments of brilliance, but god damn do we have a truly UGLY, disgusting, inhumane treatment of anyone NOT white! Geezzzz.

              The South? Boy can I give you some insight into the Deep South and my home state of Texas, a fringe-Confederate state. Fortunately, my genealogy, my ancestors come from a small minority of current Texans. Both sides of my family immigrated here from Europe in the early, early 18th-century to GET AWAY FROM exactly what is now happening to the U.S. and what began taking place during the Reconstruction Period post-Civil War—much of my maternal family risked their lives and families back home to go fight with the Union Armies… if that tells you anything. 😉

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            6. By the way Jo, both my maternal and paternal ancestors hail from the Alsace-Lorraine and Chambons-Mentoulles of Cluson Valley regions of southeast France as well as the Holzappel, Germany area east of Koblenz… since you mention your German heritage. 😉

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            7. I haven’t unfortunately. Gotten real close though… if Düsseldorf, Cologne, Frankfurt, and Vienna, Austria count. 😄 Those were the cities and futebol Clubs our North Texas team toured all summer training. 🙂 But France and Italy as well as Spain are most definitely on my Bucket List! Grrrrr, who knows when those “dreams” get fulfilled now, huh? 🙄😷

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            8. Texans play futebol? That seems antithetical to the quintessential Texan?

              (in my mind Texans shoot pigs from helicopters with high powered rifles… and remove rattlesnakes from under the porch with barbecue tongs)

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            9. HAH! 😄 That is half the reason I dropped baseball—damn tiny ball compared to a futebol and I still have horrible eye-sight!—so after playing in one youth league game (in 1973) and LOVED IT cuz I got to touch the ball about 8-times (as a right back) compared to Little League baseball (as a 2nd baseman or center-field) and touching the ball as a fielder or infielder of MAYBE 3-times, at best!? 😄

              Then yes Jo, I made the BONE-HEAD move the next season for goalkeeper. LOVED IT even more and never looked back. Been a Keeper (as opposed to what my Playah women say 😉 ) ever since. And yes, I was a bit unbalanced, unconventional then in 1973-74 and now? Way more unstable and whacky after a 27-year career in Futebol. 😉

              Yes, we do hunt/shoot feral pigs from on high and BBQ rattlesnake or gator as well. I’d be happy to lasso up some for you along with brisket and sausage—another staple of us Red-necks here. Yee-HAW!!!! (pulls out his two six-shooters & empties the barrels) 🤠

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            10. Okay, thats good. I was worried you were letting down the stereotype. But as long as you drive a pick up or a lifted jeep with ridiculous mud tires I think you’re okay.

              I also played keeper. Also loved it.

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            11. Schmeichel is an excellent choice Jo. He was just after one of my favorites as a teenager: Peter Shilton. However, when I was just a wee lad who could EVER forget the most remarkable save ever made in a World Cup!? Yes, be prepared to get goosebumps and your neck-hairs standing up…

              Is that not just the most phenomenal keeping EVER seen in The Most Beautiful Game… AND against one of the world’s best attacker-creators… Pelé!? Wow! I get chills and my eyes well-up with emotion every single time I watch those 50-60 seconds!

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            12. Sorry Jim for going on and on about this most wonderful game, but… 😉

              Jo —

              Down in Brasil—when I was playing down there—all fanatics of futebol there told me about that game, that save, and how the entire nation of Brasil, along with Pelé, were already jumping up & down screaming GOOOOOOOOOOLE! GOLASO! And suddenly the ball was put over the crossbar. Every Brazilian was dumbfounded, eyes popping out, jaws on the floor in total disbelief. Then they begin singing Banks’ praises and shaking their heads: Como ele salvou isso? Isso desafia todas as leis da física!

              Translation — How did he save that? That defies all laws of physics! 😲😵

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  7. Dams are mostly a very bad idea. Beavers do it the right way, though. Some human-made dams have not been so harmful, like the old mill dams. When it comes to ideas, people who don’t examine what they read and hear, looking for logic, reason, evidence, etc. are like those salmon stymied by large hydroelectric dams, though.

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    1. When they buried the Celilo falls it destroyed an entire culture. A rendezvous point for multiple tribes, ritual, spirituality and celebration and sustenance…gone.

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  8. When fish only had to survive natural barriers, natural selection made sense. Now that they are having to survive man-made barriers, it has become survival of the luckiest. We should be taking them to Vegas as a good luck charm (in fishbowls, of course.)
    Meanwhile, survival of the fittest has no meaning in human procreation. Good genes (whatever that means) or bad, almost everyone can produce future generations. What does that really mean? Braun over brains. Brains over spirituality. That is backwards to the needs of life, in my opinion. But then, when life first began on Earth, or elsewhere, life did not know it was going to have needs. It didn’t even know it was alive.

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    1. And barely survival of the luckiest. Farm raised Atlantic salmon escapees have even found their way here in the NW mixing man and Mother Nature again for a mass quantity of inferior fish.

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        1. I guess it depends on how one recognises and defines their spiritual nature. I was just having fun with the words when you said the thing about brawn, brains and spirituality. Reminded me of scissors paper rock. And being the dead/beatnik poet sikkent that I am, turned those words into whine and toyed with near rhymes. How words as metaphors and symbols can play with people’s perceptions and cognition.
          God shmod, they’re archetypal essences of human experiences, stock characters, epithets, personifications of types, tropes & thoughts. People who like power will use any means of persuasion to convert – change, subvert, convince, pervert – the populace into giving up their joie de vivre… ♟ Offer it up as a sacrifice on the promise of some unverifiable paradise after life. Life is here and life is now, and it doesn’t need our spirit to sustain the image of it. Life here needs nothing except for us to stop f**king it over. 🤸‍♀️

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            1. You know what’s really funny, this is how Jim and I started our online interactions on WordPress not too long ago! I said “shun the nonbelievers” or “population cleanse” (or something like that) in response to people not taking the covid19 thingy seriously. Mistook me for a true believer and stuff. Funny story.
              So I totally understand and I get that I’m a bit… So very far left field, that people have no idea what I’m doing w/t/here nor whatever im blabbering about.
              My greatest short coming (shortest hobgoblin…?) Is probably that im in the throws of the greatest joke that no one knows…
              */I look to the skies, in spotlight glare I squint my eyes. The beegees “I started a joke” plays in the background. The curtain falls, cue applause/* 🧞‍♀️🤔🎭🤖

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            2. Funny, I thought I was one of the lleft field outsiders, so far that I could not even see the stadium the game was being played in. People should be totally free to live life as they choose, as long as they do not hurt anyone in the process. I call that “responsible anarchy.”
              By the bye, I did not take you for a true believer, but rather the opposite, lol–a scientific realist, or something like that. One life and done.
              Anyways, nice to see another person out in the boonies. The more people out here, the better the world will be.

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            3. Hahaha responsible anarchy? Because I totally have no concept personal boundaries, I just have to involve myself in everything, make it all about me me me. So my version of this, anarch-ish, I’ve called myself a “cooperative anarchist,” just trying to help people flipwhizzle a neuro-synopsis.
              Artist-scientist was the first archetype I realised so I really take the whole scientific realist thing as a major compliment! Probably because I’m the least scientific person I know, but I god damn wanna try, so just fan girl from the sidelines. And bullshit philosophise, smoosh unsmooshable concepts in obscene and darling ways. And since we’re in the boonies, I will have you be made aware I’ve been called the angel of death. 😇 cognizant SAINT of clair. 😎🔪

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            4. Be whomever you want to be. That is the whole point of the anarchy part. The responsibility part is not intentionally hurting another living being (unless it is an absolute necessity).
              The basis for this philosphy or whatever you want to call it is that all life is related, so hurting a living being is hurting yourself.
              Reincarnation is a reality. Karma is just a religious farce. No one is keeping score.

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            5. Tut tut tut. There is but one keeping score (The joke is, it’s just yourself).
              Reminds me of a poem I wrote on my blog… I think I called it “me and my way with words”?? I don’t remember. Now I have to look for it. I am totes garbage at organising and categorising. Everything is connected and I forget how I connected them lol

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