Rubber Dodo Awarded to Worst Human on the Planet

Photo courtesy the Center for Biological Diversity

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Well, that is, if you measure humans by their ability to help or hurt biodiversity. Today the third annual Rubber Dodo Award was bestowed by the Center for Biological Diversity upon Michael Winer, portfolio manager for the giant real-estate investment firm Third Avenue Management, or TAREX.

The CBD’s Rubber Dodo memorializes the person who’s done most to drive endangered species extinct. The 2007 winner was Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne. In 2008, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin got the dishonor.

So what has heretofore unknown Michael Winer done to deserve the ignominy? Under Winer’s leadership, says the CBD, TAREX has become the largest stockholder of companies driving the development of the largest private landholdings remaining in Southern California and Florida. These splendid lands also happen to be home to some of the highest numbers of endangered species in North America:

  • In California, TAREX is pushing the Tejon Ranch Company to pave thousands of acres of federally designated California condor habitat.
  • In Florida, TAREX is pushing the St. Joe Company to flood tens of thousands of acres of the Florida Panhandle with upscale developments.

According to Adam Keats, director of the CBD’s Urban Wildlands Program:

“Under Winer’s money-obsessed leadership, TAREX has become the poster child for unsustainable, endangered-species-killing sprawl. He specializes in finding massive, remote estates far from urban centers and turning them into a sea of condos, malls, golf courses, and resorts. There is good reason that even Wall Street commonly calls TAREX a ‘real-estate vulture’.”

Ouch. A vulture-killing vulture.

In California, Winer is a driving force behind the Tejon Ranch Company’s bid to build two new cities 50 miles north of Los Angeles—likened to dropping a city the size of Boulder Colorado into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

What’s at stake in Tejon? Oh, only 270,000 acres at the convergence of five geomorphic provinces and four floristic regions. Plus federally designated California condor critical habitat, home to 23 known types of plant communities, home to 20 state and federally listed species, a unique “oak laboratory” for more than a third of all California oak species.

The Center for Biological Diversity would rather see Tejon Ranch be preserved as a new national or state park and preserve, to protect a bounty of native plant and animal communities, cultural and historic features, and scenic vistas.

How about we offer a carrot? Name it the Michael Winer Corrective Karma National Park?

BTW, this leads me to one of my pet, oddball, make-the-world-better schemes. In thinking about the most environmentally-friendly way to dispose of ourselves after death, why not do like the Tibetans, who practise sky burials? In other words, make ourselves food for vultures, specifically, California condors. Michael Winer, when your time comes, could you lead the way, in a park named for you?
 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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