Environmentalism vs Conservation: A look at two roads
Abundant Wildlife Society
In years past, Conservation, the wise use of natural renewable resources, was supported and understood by a majority of people. It was taken for granted that man, due to his ability to reason, had the power and right to improve, change and utilize the environment.
Irrigation ditches were built, diverting the natural flow of water to man-made ditches, thus making mountain streams live streams year around due to return flow. This enhanced the land for man and animal. Stock reservoirs and dams were built in the semiarid parts of the West allowing the land to support stock and wildlife which, in years past, supported few animals due to limited water.
Man continued to progress, and with that progression he learned new ways to better conserve and use nature. Land in eastern states was often left in a state of little use after coal mining. Learning from those mistakes, man came west to mine coal and now often reclaims the land better than it was in its natural state.
Logging, though never very pretty to look at, was found to be the best thing for nature's forests. Instead of dying off of disease, insect infestation, fire and other common tree killers, wood could be harvested and utilized, thus making forests healthier and man had a natural resource to use.
Then along came Environmentalism, a view that nature and natural forces should be the dominating force of change, a concept that Nature is "god" and man no more or less than any other living creature in the natural flow of events. This new philosophy was based upon several tenets:
1. Nature was perfect until Man disfigured it. 2. Man invariably disrupts and wreaks havoc in the environment. 3. The Natural Balance of Nature is the only way to go. 4. Man must reject all of modern technology and call for a return to a simple, pastoral life free of fumes, artificial chemicals, and any noise but the chirping of birds and the croaking of frogs (Science News). 5. Animals have a right to live as much as man and therefore man has no right to eradicate or control any living creature.
This philosophy looks good. After all, who wouldn't like to slow down and get out of the rat race of life? And we have all seen those places on this earth which have been set aside so that the natural beauty and grandeur of nature fills our being with wonder and awe. Just think of what the land must have looked like before man came? And who enjoys killing something for the sake of killing? Besides, go to any major city and you will see places where it seems man has made a mess of everything he has touched.
Ah yes, but the longer one contemplates such a belief system, the more questions come to mind which are quite disturbing.
In spite of his obvious mistakes in the past, man has really improved the land. Agriculture now feeds millions of people utilizing land that was able to support only a few people in its natural state. Without modern technology, man would have to build a fire to stay warm, walk to get anywhere and continually look for food for sustenance.
And the Balance of Nature may be natural, but there is nothing more cruel. Animal life prospers for a time,then dies off due to limited food supply, harsh weather, disease or predation and the cycle starts over again only to repeat itself. Animals used to die off by the hundreds in winter blizzards, due to lack of food and shelter. Do we stop feeding the massive herds of elk in the west to let nature take its natural course? Should there be a law requiring farmers and stockmen to tear down their barns and sheds so animals can face the elements naturally?
But what right does man have to take animal life for his consumption or because it is detrimental to his way of life?
One only has to look at the consequences if man should stop his consumption and control on the land. How quick would the rats increase in the cities and carry disease as in the days of the Plague? Or, what would be the consequences if there were no termite control? Should wolves in Alaska and Canada be allowed to regulate game naturally so that the native Indian and Eskimo can starve due to shortages of meat as in yesteryear? Their history speaks of hunger often. And the coyote of the plains, let it increase until disease such as rabies reduces its numbers as in years past. Watch nature at its finest as this animal writhes in pain and agony, slowly going mad. Not to mention the animals and humans it can bite, spreading this fatal disease.
Letting animals such as elk, deer, and moose increase unchecked will also have negative impacts. Moose are habitat destroyers if not kept in check. They ruin their forage and soon start to die of malnutrition or susceptibility to harsh weather and their numbers crash. Elk and deer can destroy crops that would feed the hungry mouths found in many parts of the world.
A serious look at these two philosophies is needed today. Common sense would dictate that we need to get back to Conservation. Man can and should control the extremes of nature through hunting, keeping numbers down and utilizing the meat to feed people. He should control those pests that wreak havoc with his crops and livestock so that he may not only feed himself but others. We need to ask hard questions like how much benefit is a coyote in a city suburb or on a rancher's range? Does the coyote become more valuable after it eats 10 sheep? Just because it is a part of nature, do we let it come in the back yard and attack our child as they have done in California, Yellowstone National Park and in the National Parks of Canada?
Conservation should be everyone's concern. It does not mean elimination of any species, but rather the control and management of all animals for the benefit of man and animal.
Since Conservation, not environmentalism, was important to those before us, we were given a heritage richer than any other nation. We have more to eat, more to see and more to enjoy than most of the world. It didn't just happen, nor will it continue unless we have a common sense philosophy.
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