Ive been quiet on this blog over the last few days because Im holed up at Big Sky, Montana, attending an environmental policy conference. (In fact, Im blogging now from a bar that has a wireless hot spot, so I may have more typoes than usual).
The culmination of the conference was a tour this afternoon of Ted Turners 112,000 acre bison ranch near here, followed by dinner at Teds barn and remarks from Ted. Turner is the largest individual private landowner in the nation, owning a total of 2 million acres in 11 states. Here in Montana and elsewhere he is engaged in a determined effort to restore natural habitat for bison and other endangered species, for which he deserves applause.
But of course Ive always thought he was something of a barking loon, and he did not disappoint in his remarks. He said that he thinks mankind may only have 50 years left to survive, which is typical Malthusian/enviro apocalypticism. When told he was speaking to a mostly conservative group, he said he considered himself a "progressive" (not a liberal), but that his very anti-communist father had warned him in the 1940s that when the Communists took over America theyd shoot anyone with more than $50, "So for 30 years I went around with never more than $49 in my wallet."
On the whole he was hilarious. When a prominent conservative philanthropist whom I shall not name asked him to rank his greatest innovations, he simply ran through a laundry list--CNN, Goodwill Games, his anti-nuke proliferation efforts, his eco-ranches. But then he added:
"And I married Jane Fonda. That was innovative. . . Any more on that innovation and Id be getting into private details."
Hard not to warm up to a guy like that. He served us barbecued bison ribs from his own herd. Actually the guy is a bit of a shell of his former self. He is land rich but cash-poor with the collapse of his Time-Warner holdings, a fact he alluded to repeatedly with some bitterness (toward Time-Warner) and sarcasm. In fact he has had to cut back on his grantmaking to left wing organizations and the UN, which isnt all bad. He no longer has any role with CNN (so we cant blame him for that any more).
Now back to the beach in California and a regular blogging schedule.