Friday, March 12, 2010

A wonderful, contemplative post on environmental ethics

© 2010 Joshua Stark

But, not from me.  Chad Love at the Mallard of Discontent has a great post on the loss of our amazing, native prairie birds.
One criticism often thrown at the hunting side of the environmental community is that they only care about their specific issues, places, or species.  And judging by the way we've organized ourselves in that community, there is little doubt that this criticism contains a grain of truth.  Consider the following hunting organizations' names:

Ducks Unlimited
California Waterfowl Association
Mule Deer Foundation
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Pheasants forever
Quail Unlimited
Snipe United for Free Worms for All

Okay, I threw that last one in there, but I believe my point stands:  although we've stressed the importance of habitat - watersheds, plants, other species - we maintain a focus on particular species, and sometimes this means that we leave out others, to our detriment.

One problem is, of course, the time dedicated to supporting individual species means that less time gets devoted to understanding the complex systems in which they thrive, and also that we may tend to overemphasize artificial "restoration" of populations, rather than supporting self-sustaining systems.  But, Chad points out another problem:  the potential for trends to ignore species, which may cause a sort of vicious cycle - as hunters stop hunting them, the species declines from a lack of funding or care.  They fall all the way until somebody notices that they may need protection, if they are lucky.

Unfortunately, right now we don't seem to have any consistent mechanism for catching species before they hit that last stop on the way to oblivion, the Endangered Species Act.  Thank goodness for that act, too, because it does express our desire to understand our negative impacts before we lose all the pieces (see Leopold's First Rule of Intelligent Tinkering).

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