Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Aldo Leopold, & why I don't see a difference between my hunting and environmentalism

© 2010 Joshua Stark

This morning, I read some of Aldo Leopold's, "A Sand County Almanac" to my son (he is one month old).  If you are interested in understanding just why I cannot comprehend how hunters and fishermen don't consider themselves as brothers and sisters to environmentalists, or indeed, environmentalists, themselves, then please read the first three paragraphs of Mr. Leopold's foreword.

The spirit conveyed in this work, so beautifully put in those first paragraphs, lays bare the reasons that many of us hunt and fish. 

The only thing separating us into different communities are other politics, and that is a crying shame. 



NorCal Cazadora said...

I can only think it's part of the mentality that "if you're against anything I'm for, we must be mortal enemies." (Ironically, most politicians know better than to think that way, but the public doesn't get that.)

Or perhaps the environmental movement has over the past couple decades undergone the same transformation that swept the Republican party (and ultimately drove both of my parents out of it)y - a takeover by zealots who demanded religious purity. I know someone who used to work for the California chapter of the Sierra Club, and I was told that most of the high muckety-mucks there are vegans, ideologically opposed to hunting. Kinda hard to hold hands with folks like that.

Josh said...

Those are both interesting points. Personally, I see the hunting/environmental paradox as a chicken-and-egg sort of thing. If many hunters became members, would the muckety-mucks be willing to fight hunting? And, who should/would make the first overture among the big groups: COHA, or the Club? : )

The upper echelon Sierra Club folks I've known (not a ton, granted) were much closer to the pragmatic politician, in personality, than ideological zealot. Mainly, I think they come from the uber-urban, where the wild was a salvation, but without any firearms experience or background that put them in touch with how their food got to their plates.

But, I've seen a much sharper delineation between animal rights people and environmentalists, at least among the advocacy crowd. Animal rights groups, with one exception, aren't environmentalists.

In the meantime, what happened to hunters as the driving force behind comprehensive environmental legislation? We tout Leopold, TR, Bird Grinnell, and they are great, indeed. But, it's starting to look bad that we can't point out any powerful environmental minds since the Great War (I exaggerate for effect).

Steve Bodio said...

From where I stand I fear Holly is right. Libby's family were lifelong moderate Republcans from CA, environmentally active, climbers and fishers but comfortable with hunting, and also Lifelong Sierra Club members.

They left in the eighties after "radicals" (their words) took over, not least because one person told them that Republicans could not be conservationists!

Josh said...

Steve, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Unfortunately, the more people opt out of groups due to the internal politics, the more radical the groups get. How might we stop that progression?

Tovar@AMindfulCarnivore said...

I know a number of environmentalists who are, for me, "hard to hold hands with" as Holly put it, given their intense antipathy to hunting. (I used to be one of them.)

Then again, I also know a number of hunters who are "hard to hold hands with," given their intense antipathy to environmentalism.

It is indeed a shame to see the political landscape of conservation so deeply fractured. Together, as many have pointed out before me, hunters/anglers and environmentalists could be an unstoppable political force.

How I wish the CARA legislation had come to a vote in Senate a decade ago!

Josh said...

Tovar, what bothers me is that they even rarely cooperatie on an issue-by-issue basis. See Albert's post on the whooping crane poachers; DU is nowhere to be seen.