Thoughts of the week
It’s amazing to me that so much time and energy is spent focusing on identifying causes for biodversity and environmental change that, in reality, are only a fraction of the problem. They are also ones that are easier to fix with less impact on most people.
Banning straws is AMAZING but discarded fishing line, microplastics, bottles, and cigarette butts tend to be more abundant. How about we assess consumerism and the human-created idea of waste? In nature, there is no such thing as waste. It’s all reused in some way. Only recently, since it became easier, cheaper, and faster to make “stuff” has waste become a thing. While making our lives more convenient, easier, or what have you, we have also created the problem of waste, overuse, and single use items. How do we change that? I’m not sure. Focus shouldn’t be on changing one thing (plastic bags or straws). While this is INCREDIBLY important, we have to also focus on the root of the more difficult, root of the problem.
Another thing I have many feelings about is trophy hunting. I came across this post on Twitter which made me think and was actually the reason behind this post. Yes, I really do not condone trophy hunting, but in many of the areas where this occurs, primarily in Africa, funding from rich, greedy, and ignorant westerners support conservation of the animals they hunt. Money goes into reserves or ranger programs. I have seen this first hand while in South Africa. I still do not think it’s right: in an ideal world saving an animal should not have to be funded by hunting that same one. It also puts a higher value and commonplace on hunting. However, as has been established, the ideal world for animals and humans to coexist does not exist.
More to the point: this article from The Dodo, while a few years old, puts emphasis on trophy hunting giraffes as the main reason for their drastic and unsustainable population decline. Americans are also huge importers of giraffe parts, as shocking as I think that is. When looking at the problem in sum, the main issues are HABITAT LOSS and POACHING. Yes, trophy hunting is a problem, and I want to emphasize that I do not condone it, but other things are worse and have a greater impact on these rare animals. Like I mentioned before, trophy hunting affects a limited number of people while habitat loss effects many more. It also raises many more issues and expands to th greater society, because it’s happening everywhere and is a direct result of humans. Plus, trophy hunting is much (all relative of course) easier to change.
These two examples are just the iceberg. I could have talked about many things, but I wanted to highlight two things.
1. As humans, we blame problems on things that are the easiest things to fix. We all do it. We want easy fixes and to feel like we are doing something positive. Do not get me wrong. ANY CHANGE is good. Even choosing to forgo buying that plastic, one use water bottle or saying no to a plastic bag is PROGRESS. But it should never stop there. It’s PROGRESS, and everything is always a work in progress. Never complete.
2. We oversimplify things. The idea that banning all straws is the only or most important way to go is ignorant. Saying trophy hunters are the only, or most detrimental, reason for giraffe declines is irresponsible. Just like everything in life, conservation and protection of animals is complicated- there are always way more pieces to the puzzle than those laid out on the table and sometimes those pieces will even have to change shape to fit right. Don’t become naive and think your way is right, your opinion is the only one that matters. It’s hard, and I struggle with it every day. But again, progress.