The Earth Liberation front admitted responsibility for blazes set early Monday morning, October 20, 1998 in the ski village of Vail, Colorado. What are some other viewpoints on the Vail expansion and eco-terrorism? Are there other, non-violent means for the Earth Liberation Front to achieve its objectives? How can rewards be used to protect wildlife habitat and endangered species? People's choices have consequences that lie in the future.

KEY CONCEPTS

Choice, Cost/Benefit Analysis, Incentive, Investing

INTRODUCTION

colorado The Earth Liberation Front admitted responsibility for blazes set early Monday morning, October 20, 1998 in the ski village of Vail, Colorado. In an email message sent to KCFR-FM Colorado Public Radio in Denver, the group said:

"On behalf of the lynx, five buildings and four ski lifts at Vail were reduced to ashes on the night of Sunday, October 18th. Vail, Inc. is already the largest ski operation in North America and now wants to expand even further. The 12 miles of roads and 885 acres of clearcuts will ruin the last, best lynx habitat in the state. Putting profits ahead of Colorado's wildlife will not be tolerated. This action is just a warning. We will be back if this greedy corporation continues to trespass into wild and unroaded areas. For your safety and convenience, we strongly advise skiers to choose other destinations until Vail cancels its inexcusable plans for expansion."

- Earth Liberation Front (ELF)

MATERIALS


PROCESS

What are some other viewpoints on the Vail expansion and eco-terrorism? Are there other, non-violent means for the Earth Liberation Front to achieve its objectives? How can rewards be used to protect wildlife habitat and endangered species?

As you visit the following sites, make a list of non-violent solutions to the problem of habitat encroachment. [Use legal system, raise awareness, transfer ownership of property to environmentalists, etc... ]

Read about this act of environmental terrorism in the article Earth Liberation Front Sets Off Incendiary at Vail, Colorado .  According to the article, what precipitated the attack on Vail businesses? ["Last week a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by environmentalists who protested against a plan by Vail Resorts to expand into another 885 acres of forest land."]

Here is a PDF article from Rocky Mountain News titled "Category III is the Logical Final Building Block to Vail Master Plan" that provides a perspective on the Vail expansion and environmentalism. The author says: "Vail is huge, but if Vail is as "greedy" and "bottom-line" oriented as (they) say, why would Vail spend $14 million developing terrain that isn't needed? Vail believes it will get a return on its investment because people will want to ski."

 

1. What economic principle is evident in his statement? [People respond to incentives.]

2. Which do most business owners and residents of Vail value more: skiing or preserving lynx habitat? [Probably skiing, since $14 million is being spent on expansion and not on preservation of lynx habitat.] Why? [Investment in ski areas provides a greater return than does investment in lynx habitat - as long as consumers continue to demand ski areas over lynx habitat.]

For more details on the Vail expansion, visit the Cyberwest Magazine article Environmentalists Oppose "Super Vail" Expansion .

1. What organization currently controls the Two Elk area? [US Forest Service]

2. How does it determine whether to designate an area as a winter sports area vs. a wildlife area?

3. Who benefits and who pays for the area to be used as a winter sports area? [Skiers and businesses both receive benefits and pay for the area.]

4. Who benefits and who pays for the area to be used as a wildlife area? [People benefit who care about preservation of wildlife habit and the wildlife benefit. Environmentalists and skiers pay taxes to maintain the area. Don't forget the opportunity costs -alternative uses of the land.]

Visit the article "Environmentalism, Eco-Terrorism, and Endangered Species " appearing in the online Capitalism magazine, Glenn Woiceshyn asks "What explains this irrational behavior?" -- in reference to the acts of eco-terrorists and radical environmentalists. He answers his question by stating "At root, it's the belief that pristine nature possesses 'intrinsic value.'" He goes on to say that "If pristine nature possesses 'intrinsic value,' then human values are inconsequential."

1. What human values is the author referring to?

2. Do you agree with the author?

3. How is it determined that nature has 'intinsic value'?

4. Who decides that nature has 'intrinsic value'?

Write a paragraph in support of one of the non-violent solutions to habitat encroachment. Use as many of the economic principles listed below as you can in your arguments. Clues to Economic Understanding

  1. People choose. People choose the alternative that gives them the most advantageous combination of costs and benefits.
  2. People's choices involve costs. People incur costs when making decisions, even when they appear to have paid nothing.
  3. People respond to incentives in predictable was. Incentives are rewards that encourage people to act.
  4. Peoples create economic systems to influence choices and incentives.
  5. People gain when they trade voluntarily.

People's choices have consequences that lie in the future.

EDUCATOR REVIEWS