Should we alter or preserve habitats for the benefit of one species as prescribed by experts?
Not understanding a relationship of flora and fauna in an ecosystem should not be ignored in the basis for exerting man’s will to terraform a habitat for the benefit of a political action group or a single species they claim to represent. When confronted with an action that has the capability to affect the environment on enormous scale my first reaction is to stop trying to apply a one fix solution to everything. Gather knowledge and weigh benefits against possible consequences instead of ignoring opposition to personal bias. Experts, especially in academic circles are constantly proving that the previous expert was totally wrong. Let’s not get into the infamous Dr’s. Leakey on the origin of man contradicting what all of Western Society held and then re-held to be fact as given to us by experts, and tend more in the direction of Dr. Carl Sagan’s more practical “Baloney Test” for science.
By all means listen to your experts. Then apply a little logic and listen to your opponents experts. Now you will have the most difficult challenge of listening to your conscience to decide if either of them is correct or if they have an agenda.
What should frighten you about this process of rational thought is that you may have to admit that man does not know everything about how this planet behaves. We can observe history and repeat the mistakes or let go of pride and act responsibly to others before one’s own self interests. (here is where I usually get called a communist)
Some of the current environmental discourses attributed to people are discussed briefly here.
Prometheans, identified as people who trust the “experts” to fix things, Economic rationalism which holds that private ownership will be the answer to protecting the environment, and Ecological modernization which uses adaptability to address environmental problems. “Nature knows” best advocates would be served better if they actually let nature work or at least stop trying to do things better than nature at the advice of experts.
Prometheans, identified as people who trust the “experts” to fix things, can be considered correct on a large scale only if they are willing to let “Mother Nature” or “God” be considered the expert. Just about the time whaling was becoming a dying industry because we hunted them to the brink of extinction, petroleum deposits were harnessed to provide a substitute fuel for lamps and a tool for generating a new power source called electricity. An environmental problem of catastrophic proportions was solved by the experts. Along that thinking, when all species of plant life become the property of corporations to decide what will be the prescribed biosphere for nations to conform to a global economic plan, we can rest easy that nothing can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong… because the laws will protect us. Should all the breathing air become corrupt from the atmosphere we could conceivably discover a new way to deliver oxygen to our bodies cells without the use of lung tissue. That reminds me of the old joke about a man climbing onto his porch roof when the flood came and refusing to get in the row-boat that tried to rescue him because God was going to take care of him. He also refused to get into the bigger boat that tried to rescue him when he had to climb on to the house roof as the water rose. When the helicopter offered to rescue him as he clung to the chimney, he repeated that God would take care of him. After dying at the pearly gates, he asked Peter why God let him down and was told that he was a darned fool because God had sent him two boats and a helicopter that he ignored because he thought he knew better. We cannot just blindly trust that everything will work out alright without learning what might happen. We need to be proactive and take responsibility for our actions. It is far too easy to let experts decide for us so we will have someone to blame if things do not go according to plan.
Economic rationalism holds that private ownership will be the answer to protecting the environment. It is a matter of perception whether engineering and market economics can become our environmental savior experts or just keep complicating and prolonging our downfall. It is thought that pride in ownership and competition to keep up with global economies will be enough incentive to clean up pollution. But can we really rely on the good intentions of corporations to have the welfare of non-shareholders in mind when initiating policy? Economic motivation of this type more often encourages us to pass the buck and export our problems to places that don’t matter to a board of directors. Rationalization is the basis of a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) attitude after all.
Ecological modernization uses adaptability to address environmental problems. Adapting to what you see as possible threats is common sense but it should be done responsibly. A militaristic approach of kill whatever is different to maintain control certainly protects your interests as long as what you eliminate was truly bad for you. Bringing in design experts to make changes that affect your neighbors can be self serving and detrimental to others. If you manufacture all the plant life that your experts say the world will ever need and society benefits from that, then I suppose you can pat yourself on the back and accept the award for saving the population from hunger. If you destroy the health of entire continents or worse, you may find yourself no longer part of the global economy. But to outlaw the use of alternative plants so your products remain the only ones sold is in my opinion a direct violation of human rights; I don’t care whose constitution you cite. When the planet and its population change, you need to change with them, not against them.
“Nature knows best” may be the single most inappropriately used argument for change ever taken up. Or is it a better argument for things to stay the same? I get confused. Bringing in invasive species to control invasive pests is bad but allowing invasive species to alter an ecosystem is also bad. Putting up a dam to block a river is bad for the environment unless a beaver does it. Dredging a channel through a barrier island is wrong unless a hurricane does it. Starting a lot of little fires to protect the habitat of Scrub Jays keeps the ecosystem stuck in a destructive loop for one species of bird (and a wealthy land owner adjacent to the preserve maybe?), which is to be in a constant state of re-growth and change that would eventually settle into a balanced ecosystem if left alone to progress into the next natural stage of growth. We preserve Scrub Jay habitats because if nature had its way the birds would get displaced by vegetation changes as the forest regenerated itself. We also preserve Scrub Jay habitats because if we let nature have its way people would get displaced by marsh flooding and forest fires as the area goes through first stage and second stage growth cycles. On the other hand, wait just a darned tootin’ minute. According to our “experts” if nature had its way things would change and that’s a bad thing unless nature does it?
I repeat emphatically; not understanding a relationship of flora and fauna in an ecosystem should not be the basis for exerting man’s will to terraform the habitat for the benefit of a political action group or a single species they claim to represent.
Follow this space to read about my take on the Army Corp of Engineer experts altering navigable waterways in an environmentally responsible project.