Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How Extremists are Killing Our World

We've all heard them... the extremists. These are the people that cry wolf so loud and so often that we find ourselves tuning them out. I posted on twitter that extremists are like a snowball with a rock core... a lot of puffery with a painful nugget of truth buried within.  The problem is that extreme views propose extreme fixes in many cases.  The typical trend is that the left runs the television while the right rules talk radio.  Both sides have valid points on many issues and I don't intend on going into a political rant.  I care about lots of things, but one of the things that tops my list is my home. I don't mean the one made of lumber and stone with an address on the front.  I don't even mean the city in which I live.  I mean the planet that has, through eons, provided for the species that inhabit it.

Where is the middle ground?  Why can't people have a sense for capitalism AND a sense for environmentalism?  There's a reason that we all study history when we're growing up - not to memorize facts and dates, but because people who forget what happened are doomed to repeat the same failures.  It's a lesson we're taught through life.  So why is it so hard for humans - as a species - to take the tiniest of glimpses to our past and realize that we apparently aren't capable of policing ourselves when it comes to the world we live in?  We use and abuse the land.  Sure, dump stuff in the drain rather than pay to have it taken care of the right way.  Strip mine.  Clear cut.  Do things that provide the most amount of profit with the least amount of work.  Predators kill livestock?  Screw 'em; kill them all.  Does private property really mean we have the right to do anything we want with it?  We seem to think that because we have evolved and harnessed energy and technology that we are the culmination of what defines evolution.  We are the pinnacle and the only concern.  Conquer nature.  Tame wilderness. Exploit what can be exploited, regardless of cost, for profit.
We eradicate species we don't like or ones that are profitable.  It's not Americans I point an ecological finger at, it's humans.  Here's some facts: 
  • When humans first migrated to North America, we played the key role in extinction of some of the coolest animals that ever lived. North America had lions bigger than the African Lion!  We had giant turtles.  We had camels.  We had three different species of elephants.  These animals were large and had never encountered humans; know what that made them?  Sitting ducks.  Kill off the giant herbivores and then the, through competition and hunting, the predators were dead species, too. (Of note, happened everywhere, I just liked our megafauna the best.)
  • When America started to 'shrink' (through easier transportation and communication), we saw the resources on this great continent as an inexhaustible resource.  Bison were eradicated in the wild.  Beavers - a keystone species - were hunted to near extinction because of the value of their pelts.  Certain birds were driven to the verge of extinction not because we ate them, but because their feathers were pretty in hats. Passenger pigeons, which had an astronomical population, driven extinct due to being easy targets.
Why do they go extinct - what did people do?  Hunting**.  Habitat change (the big one).  Introduction (whether accidental or on purpose) of invasive species. And of course the token few that go extinct due to natural causes.  Here's some animals that you probably grew up with that are on the list: 
  • Eastern Box Turtle (vulnerable, decreasing)
  • Polar bear (vulnerable, decreasing)
  • Mexican Long-nosed Bat (endangered, decreasing)
  • Red Wolf (critically endangered, increasing)

So tell me, is it impossible to have a "meeting of the minds" in regard to capitalism and conservationism? I know a lot of brilliant - non-extreme, even - people who could likely think of ideas.  I don't agree with regulations merely for the sake of regulating, but there's some aspects that warrant it.  There's so many brilliant people... I hope that they have a few ideas and I solicit them to share.  I'm tired of extreme-minded people constantly directing the way things are going to be. Don't get me wrong - I'm pointing my finger both left and right.  I'm tired of 'right and left'.  I want circular, well-rounded!

**By hunting I do not mean to infer any fault to responsible hunting/hunters.

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