Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Animal People vs Environmentalists: A Breed Apart?

As readers of this blog, you may have noticed that we cover animal issues and environmental issues. We feel that the two are inextricable. However, we do make a real effort to focus on environmental issues relating to wildlife or with an animal component. Otherwise, the scope would be too wide.

Some might there a difference between environmental issues and animal rights issues (or for that matter, is there a difference between animal rights and animal welfare, but that's a different post)? Here's how I understood it years ago.

I became politicized about animal issues back about 1995-1996. Around that time, there was an E Magazine article called The Agony of Animals (Part 3) about the very question of animal rights vs. environmental issues. This is the way the article defined the difference...

A few years ago, wildlife officials in South Africa's Pilanesburg National Park received an interesting proposition: A wealthy American, bent on shooting something impressive, offered to pay $500,000 to kill one of the park's rhinos. The officials had a candidate, a past-his-prime bull too old to breed. The money could finance the struggling park for a year, and the viability of the endangered species wouldn't be affected. But according to one South African conservationist, fear of a public outcry from beyond the nation's borders quelled the plans.

The bull was saved. But in the conservationist's eyes, an opportunity had been lost to what he called a radical fringe - a fringe that included animal advocates who he felt lost sight of the big picture by focusing on the well-being of a single animal.

I have never forgotten this article because of that trenchant illustration. Some people will be up in arms over the puppy burned to death by its owners while others will be up in arms about the mountain gorillas species nearing extinction. Some will be upset about hunting and killing that one deer, while others are okay with that as long as the deer population is healthy. What matters? The individual or the species?

We here at Critter News believe that the unifying principle is the respect for non-human life. Whether the groups disagree on the means, the values are the same. One could argue that's not the case in the deer example, but there is still the implicit belief that there is a value to the species and that it deserves a place on our planet. We humans are stewards and need to share the space with the nonhumans.

Whether it's the individual or the species, the two battles intertwine and complement each other. The real foes are the corporations and the materialists who only think of immediate profit and pleasure regardless of the consequences of their actions. They are willing to create untold destruction for an immediate pleasure because they don't think, contemplate the consequences of their actions or have the humility to realize that they share the world with others and they as a whole are not that important.

The achievement of a humble human species is really the key to saving this planet, its species and their individual members.

Photo by Ngsbrown

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A very true and well written article.
But keep in mind that that greedy breeder is not only bad for the animals, but for the public as well. We cannot improve animal care if Big Pocket Joe is mass producing animals and giving out poor information on the animal (or not being selective to who they give the animal to). That one tourtured puppy may not seem important to the survival of a species, but it is, our own species. People that hurt animals are likely (and probably do) abuse thier own kind as well. If we strive to educate and shut down Joe's, then I think more people will be interested in animal species conservation and environmental issues.

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