The only voice animals on our earth have is their plummeting population numbers, if we can't even look at that as a sign of global crisis and act on it, I don't know what else we can do.
Define the problem: $animal is going extinct.
Define why it is a problem: Biodiversity is an indicator for healthy ecologies. The extinction of endangered animals threatens the stability of ecology $Y which humans rely on for food, health, and resources.
Define the solution: By spending $X on preserving $Y, we can insure our access to resource $Z is not threatened.
This gives people something to actually address. They may disagree with you about any points (which is political, but isn't necessarily "politicized"), which can help tease out specific issues of contention and find compromises (or outvote them, if necessary).
So all we have to do is quantify what making changes will do to a highly complex biological system that we don't fully understand or have even observed? And that's just building something in a single field, now multiply by all the possible construction sites in the US and then add in how they interact with each other once multiple sites are changed in an area or downstream or upstream or upwind or on the same aquifer or...
It's so simple, why didn't we just do this from the start? :)
I was kind of unsatisfied by the justification "we might find medicine" for something as amazing as alkaline hydrothermal vents, but I couldn't think of a better one myself. There doesn't seem to be a concept that earth's creativity is intrinsically valuable. If there was, we could just say "there are highly complex geo-chemical formations in this square" and, along with a brief spec of the size, age, and properties of the formations, that would be justification enough to protect them.
This leads to the politicization of everything as a means of persuading people using wit or by demonizing the other side, because those methods are effective.
Combine this with very interested parties spreading disinformation, and we are in big trouble.
I was thinking the removal of the law that evaluates a species’ protection without regard to ‘economic impact’ would lead to each impacted community now having a chance to vote on what’s more important to them, species protection or local economy. And I believe people will organize to vote for the money.
Someone else? Yes. They might not share my values and they may prefer short term gains or otherwise directly benefit from such an act.
That’s the point of trying to define the problem in a reasoned way. It helps you keep the politics of it focused and de-politicized. Don’t let the example blind you to the principle.
> We treat things like murder as a binary proposition (barring self defense), even if the person being murdered represents a drain on society's resources.
Since when? Historically it was A-OK to kill people under all kinds of circumstances that today we would consider murder. Some societies had ritualized sacrifice. Plenty of people now (myself included) think the death penalty is not okay. Even today, murder is often used as a tool of statecraft for every government on Earth. It's tolerated in many, many instances; sometimes even praised.
Murder itself, in the US, is treated differently depending on intent. And murder is just a subset of killings, which include killing on the battlefield, manslaughter, self defense, accident, etc. There's nothing binary here.
> Do you personally believe that humans are the ultimate arbiters of the universe?
Does it matter what I personally believe to a person that wants to cut down a forest for profit? Does my belief somehow help achieve my goal? Does my belief do anything to convince anyone else?
I take huge issue with this kind of utilitarian argument since time and again it has proven not to be effective or we wouldn't have been in this mess in the first place. Do polar bears have much impact on our "food, health, and resources"? It reminds me of this xkcd comic: https://xkcd.com/1338/
Because anything where there isn't universal agreement is inherently political...
It's "politicized" almost entirely because of misinformation campaigns that have torn down the search for truth and the trust of science. Instead, government leaders (especially in the current whitehouse administration in the USA) are actively destroying scientific communities, running them out of non-partisan offices, destroying scientific research, defunding other research, and restricting access to publications.
It's not that there isn't a universal agreement, there actually is a bipartisan appreciation of the endangered species act (https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2019/8/12/20802132/en...) and it seems most people appreciate what it brings.
So yes, it's definitely being "politicized" as the objective science behind it is being destroyed.
Pretending that this is a result of misinformation campaigns won't address it (their values are the problem, not their lack of knowledge), and it means that protecting biodiversity will require political compromise.
The real problem is that public goods don't have equal advocacy in the halls of power. Public goods don't pay campaign contributions. Public goods don't run PACs. Pubic goods have to be championed by a motivated and organized coalition of citizens; all the while capital continues to amass power.
I dont think our polarized times has to mean that all discord and disagreement is politics. For instance, we could disagree on the fundamentals of a topic yet agree on a solution and politically compromise to enact laws. For instance, how much regulation? Some say none, some say a lot, disagreement fundamentally, but politics is also about the subsequent agreement on compromise.
In short, I dont think we can redefine politics as disagreement. Politics is more about social and rhetorical maneuvering towards a desired end state. That maneuvering is necessary due to conflict and disagreement, but the part is not the whole.
I'd wager that 95% of Americans are not qualified in any way to speak to conservationism and the myriad of inscrutable legal issues that come with it. Of course you'll get a load of positive replies when you ask a random person on the street if they support the "Endangered Species Act" or if they would prefer to see it "weakened".
Until you've seen a $150 million data center project abandoned because the FWS wanted a multi-year, multi-million dollar study on its effects on the local spotted boll-weevil population you don't fully understand how destructive and absurd the legislation has become.
First, you claim that some $150MM data center project had to be abandoned to protect the "spotted boll weevil".
Really? I ask because weevils are typically considered pests and rather than protected they are actively eradicated:
Additionally, is there even such a thing as a "spotted boll weevil"? I ask because neither I nor Google seems to know about them (Other than some funny joke picture)
So, I'm guessing that there is in-fact no such project and that you just feel on principle that nothing should impede progress, certainly not the welfare of some random species. You are of course entitled to that opinion, it just places you in the overwhelming minority. On a tangential note, I think it does not help your argument to simply make up something that sounds plausible and present it as fact.
Secondly, on the topic of 95% of Americans not being qualified to speak as experts on conservationism, I totally agree but...
I hope you agree that they are entitled to an opinion about conservationism. I also feel quite confidently that those who are in fact experts on conservationism will be the strongest advocates against weakening the endangered species act.
I think that last thing people who want to weaken environmental laws want is for their representatives to listen to actual experts.
First is that, of course, the endangered species act has provably impeded progress. Required environmental impact assessments have added literal years and millions of dollars to public works projects and adversely impacted thousands of private projects. It's impact is across the nation, on nearly every job I've worked on. On the Bay Bridge there were restrictions on how often pile striking could occur in order to not adversely impact the fish. TxDOT has suffered numerous setbacks on their MoPac project around Austin due to endangered salamanders. Another tunnel job I worked north of Austin had provisions within the contract for nearly a year of stoppages for underground crickets.
Second is to point out that, of course, experts on conservationism would be the strongest advocates against weakening the federal law that gives them the majority of their business. Similar to how the American Society of Civil Engineers fails the country's infrastructure every year in my industry.
After you implement tangible solutions to the ridiculous kabuki of trying to litigate against a business that has damaged the environment.
When there is no meaningful recourse to environmental damage done after the fact, excessive effort in prevention is the only solution that actually works.
This forester was conducting a survey for us one year, and showed us that we have a specimen of a tree species that's expected to go onto the endangered list in the future. With a wink, he warned us that if we've got that tree there when it goes on the list, we'll be forbidden from doing much of anything with our land in the future - the implication being that we should dispose of it while we've still got the chance.
The ESA can impose significant costs even on us little folk. And the way the Act is constructed provides perverse incentives, giving us motivation to do the opposite of what's intended.
(we left the tree, but others may not have the same flexibility to make that sacrifice)
I must be missing something but I am having hard time fitting this into my definition of the "little folk".
I don't know the details of the law, but I would expect that most people might choose "harvest a few trees and skip headaches" over "tolerate headaches for an abstract good feeling."
Independent of that, ranchers are compensated for killed, wounded, and spooked cattle under the pay-for-presence program and similar. The rates are favorable to the point of being a cash grab, and there have been numerous cases of fraud where ranchers claimed kills that simply didn't happen.
Independent of that, the federal government has poured subsidies into ranching for decades, to the tune of about $30,000 per rancher per year. Even if they weren't compensated for lost livestock, on balance ranchers are far better off with the feds than they would be on their own.
But you don't hear about that because, frankly, the ranchers are spoiled rotten. When something benefits them they accept it without thought, and when it doesn't, well, they either howl in protest on the internet or outright take up arms against the federal government in one of the most poetic examples of "biting the hand that feeds you" which I can name.
Since we're on the topic of environmental issues in northern MN, one thing that has upset almost everyone in the area is Trump allowing foreign companies to start mining in the Boundary Waters, an area that is near-univerally cherished by Minnesotans for its undisturbed nature (including its wolf packs!).
If you're not a Minnesotan, don't try to speak for us. If you are a Minnesotan, I contend that your perspective reflects only a relatively small minority of us, even among rural northern Minnesotans (like my family and friends!)
Which means that the pretty much the ONLY way to hold a public office here, especially a federal office like US senator or representative, is with the approval of one of the timber, mining or grazing families like Simplot (which supplies the potatoes for fast food chains and beef for the northwest).
So although I write my elected officials often, I have only seen concern from Mike Simpson and a handful of others. Crapo, Risch and Fulcher are firmly pro-industry and for the most part ignore all environmental concerns.
So it's really up to you in your state to write to your officials, even though Nevada, Utah and Idaho have the most public land in the lower 48 (and many endangered species).
I realize that big cities have their own problems with corruption from democrats, for example with unions or boondoggle construction projects (although I'm not personally familiar with them). But make no mistake that environmental degradation is almost purely a republican problem, and it happens almost entirely at the behest of red states.
And the citizens of red states are almost powerless to do anything about it once the demographics reach about 60/40 red. We have to go to great lengths via groups like the Sierra Club to prevent clearcuts and mass killings of wildlife, and the battle never ends.
Even if you are a conservative living in a blue state, it's up to you to contact your elected officials if you feel any concern at all for the environment.
But that all started to change in the 1980s. And now the scale has completely flipped upside down. I very much appreciate their work from the turn of the 20th century beyond WWII. It saddens me what the current party is doing.
I think conservative didn't imply conserving nature as much as conserving social norms and policies.
I think a conservative then and now is someone intent on preserving the structures that enable their revenue stream.
Social issues merely correlate with conservatism (purity concerns mostly), but are side issues to the monetary concerns.
But anyway, that's a long winded way of saying you are correct. The term "conservative" refers to conserving the norms, values, economics, and power structures that already exist, and resisting changes that would challenge them in any way, or at least being naturally skeptical of anyone proposing big sweeping changes, both to protect the old order and out of a fear of unintended consequences going forward. It doesn't refer to conserving nature in any way, even though Teddy Roosevelt was a champion of conservation and Nixon created the EPA.
However, in the US at least, "conservative" now seems to mean whatever the GOP wants it to mean. When things like decades-long commitments to free trade or international security or even domestic security can fall by the wayside seemingly on the whim of a human random number generator, you know Edmund Burke's hands are completely off the wheel and have been for a long time.
Liberals tend to live in cities, where there is very little nature. Conservatives tend to live in rural areas. They are more often farmers and hunters and fishermen. They're more likely to drink unpurified and non-treated water. Surely keeping nature as pristine as we can make it should mean more?
If we poison the groundwater, my well becomes useless. If we poison the lakes, I can't fish. If we cut down the forests, I can't hunt.
Even though I live in the city now, I grew up on a farm and I consider myself to be a conservationist, and I can't for the life of me figure out how any rural American could feel otherwise. Destruction of natural environments impacts rural America far more than anyone living in a city.
1) Environmental regulations and property rights are frequently viewed as in conflict by the rural population, examples of government reach onto the property owner's perceived absolute rights upon their own land.
2) The view that the wilderness exists to be made use of- which, really, is a view that's quite in line with what the rural population is generally living out. Farms can look beautiful and green from the outside, but they're generally intensely managed little plots of nature, where every year is a fight against Nature's encroachment.
3) A feeling that life is hard enough in those areas and those lifestyles without further restrictions on what you can and can't do, or more work that has to happen just to keep doing the same thing that you've been doing for generations. These are generally not the people who feel like they are (or actually are!) really getting ahead in life, and anything that makes it feel like they've got to run faster on that treadmill isn't going to go over well.
I think a lot of city-dwellers idolize the wilderness, it being something that is not at all part of their daily life, to a much greater extent than the rural dwellers who can walk out into acres of forest with no one around practically whenever they feel like it.
I'm city to rural transplant who's very much conservation-minded, but it's important to acknowledge where people are coming from, too. These are certainly not the only reasons, nor are they reasons that every rural citizen is going to agree with, but they're certainly some of the reasons that I've encountered.
As an example: when I was a teenager a water bottling plant went in a few miles from our farm. Almost immediately our well stopped producing water. We had to get a drilling service to come out and drive our well deeper. There's no regulation in the area on how much water any one property owner can consume which is great for farmers who are just keeping their crops alive but catastrophic when someone comes in to pump that water out of the ground for the sheer purpose of pumping as much water as they can.
Logging was big in the area back then too. Very little regulation about logging on your own property, which is great when you need to clear a bit more farmland or keep the wood stove running. But when the property is bought for the specific purpose of clear-cutting, now area farmers have to worry about the wind blowing topsoil away. That's exactly what happened in the Dust Bowl, and it's happening again now. The only reason we haven't had a farming collapse is our fertilizers are so much better now. But fertilizer is expensive, and it's just one more thing farmers have to buy.
And when all those trees are cut down, the deer population moves away. So now hunters have fewer chances to harvest during the hunting season. I know a lot of people back home have given up on hunting. I haven't harvested a deer in over five years, and we used to fill multiple licenses per season.
Anti-regulation is supposed to make rural life easier. But in effect it really only makes life easier for out-of-town businesses who want to destroy a rural area and leave it decimated for the population who lives there.
These should be conservative talking points. This should resonate with rural populations. "Lack of environmental concern from big business is making your already-difficult life even harder." But that message is considered "liberal" and I just don't understand it.
So you have an election cycle. Each election is a function Polity → Polity, the people who performed the election look at the election issues and they vote and they look at the results and they are changed by that process. A cycle of these will chain a bunch of these together; the time delay between them is a sort of diffusion process in the middle of them. That diffusion is kind of the only way to escape the basic theorem. So there’s a broad set of theorems about these x → x functions called fixed point theorems; under very general conditions repeating one indefinitely causes it to converge to some value which is equal to its input, x = f(x).
So the mathematical theorem says that whatever your election process is, your nation will fall into a state where those elections do not change the polity much, except to eliminate any diffusion.
It seems then that the fixed point of the “divide the country into seats and run first-past-the-post elections on each seat” looks like this:
1. There are two spineless political parties. By spineless, I mean that they are not actually associated with real deep-held convictions; over long time-scales you will see seismic shifts, such as a “party of Lincoln, freed the slaves” becoming a “definitely favored by white supremacists” shift or so.
2. Each party maintains approximately 50% of the popular vote, and probably 50% of the control of the government. Note that this happens both with gerrymandering (the House) and without (the Senate).
3. Typical people do not belong to one party or the other. People think they are relatively independent and they disagree with “their” parties in many many ways. What makes that party “theirs” is not their identification with that cause, but their abject terror at the policies of the opposite party.
Presumably these three trends continue to polarize the nation until an inevitable civil war. One can also predict that, since the casus belli of the civil war was chosen by spineless political parties, after the situation is resolved one way or the other there will be some sort of movement from the losers to forget that casus belli and recast their motives into new lights as the political climate changes—so in a post-slavery America the US Civil War is understood as not being about “slavery” but about “states’ rights to self-determination,” which is not really about white-washing history (the Republicans after all won the US Civil War and would not mind reminding people of it if that were politically expedient) so much as re-stoking the same demonization of the Other that keeps the system going (“those Democrats are part of a dangerous Northerner lineage that dates back to the Civil War and wants to take away all of your rights in the name of improving your life, whereas we in the South prize individual liberties and would never do such barbaric things”).
The sibling comment by freehunter makes a good point too. But the bottling plant went in because someone was able to sell or develop their land, and because of the demand in the urban areas. You can bet if environmental regulations had blocked it, there would have been lots of local grumbling against the EPA--and of course no mention of how the threat to their wells had been identified and avoided.
I might even speculate there is some residual association with the hippie movement of the 1960s.
Also, the mockery that Al Gore got from Republicans for his environmental activism more or less cemented anything associated with environmentalism and "climate change" as a "leftist fraud" in the minds of many Americans.
I lived in the Sierra Nevadas where we have to do absurd things like destroy unauthorized dams that have existed for 150 years. We have to adhere to solar installation regulations, despite getting hundreds of inches of snow that require 400# per square foot of roof strength tolerance, and are covered by snow six months out of the year. We have to live in constant fear of a massive forest fire blowing through our community thanks to our government's approach to fire containment.
I admit that Big Oil has seized on this skepticism to push their own environmentally harmful agenda, but not wanting the government to sink its tentacles into rural life is more than just the hypocrisy that you are implying countryfolk have. There are real consequences to past legistaltion they are reacting to.
Just in terms of energy consumption, people in cities save vast amounts of CO_2 by:
- having shorter commutes
- driving smaller cars, or even...
- ...using public transport
- using less real estate (lower heating/cooling costs)
- living in large, shared houses with better space-to-surface ratios
They also protect the environment in the classical, i. e. by not building houses with manicured but dead lawns in it.
The US Conservatives are currently attacking the clean water act, the clean air act, and the endangered species act only because they interfere with profit and greed.
Never attribute to stupidity that which is adequately explained by greed.
Many Americans are underserved by their assigned politicians. Gerrymandering based on political gain merely makes it worse. The most representative folks they have to vote for generally have little power to change things because of the local nature. Not saying not to vote - in fact, I encourage it - but this seriously also isn't as easy as simply voting.
It gets even trickier if you are American and live overseas. You still have to file taxes even if you've not lived on american soil for years. If you are in a low-tax nation, you might have to pay the American government taxes. You still theoretically can vote in at least federal elections based on where you lived before you moved, but... seriously, the voting forms ask if I'll be living in the US again and when. I have absolutely no confidence in being heard by any politician and truly don't feel that my vote counts. This is especially true where I'm from - Indiana - and have never really had a politician reflect my views nor have I gotten much more than a form letter in response to a letter.
I have more representation where I live and I'm not a citizen. I can vote in local elections here in Norway, so have some representation at least.
The protection of obscure species concerns a small portion of activists very much, and they are very loud in their activism, but there are other large portions of the population that don't care nearly as much and would prioritize economic growth over protecting endangered species. The activists' personal convictions are not more important or more valuable than those of people who don't care as much for endangered species. They're just different, and the activists tend to be louder and more passionate in voicing them.
People like animals. I'd certainly be willing to buy Coke rather than Pepsi if I thought it was going to save an owl or a possum or something. I also don't think Coke would be above putting an owl on some of their packaging to remind people that buying Coke will save owls.
I'd much prefer this approach to legislation.
I can't think of a single company off the top of my head that is a 'known endangered species killer' so I'd suspect the mechanism you suggest does not actually function.
No legislation will stop species extermination if information about the extermination is unattainable. If it's not available to activists and competitors, it's not available to regulators.
If the information is attainable, then the aforementioned activists and competing companies are both incentivized, morally and financially, to find it.
And, assuming you somehow can get that information (which you can't), how you would you boycott some oil exploration contractor eight levels removed from the consumer? How do you boycott Monsanto/Bayer, which sell to farmers who sell to wholesalers who sell to every mill in the country who sell to every single bakery?
You organize the farmers to boycott.
If you can raise $1mm from various environmental activist communities to lobby congress, you could just as easily raise the same million and organize a boycott that directly targets the revenue source of the bad actor.
I don't need to argue that the environment and endangered species have value. They clearly do. I'm arguing that activists should act more like entrepreneurs and find a way to use market forces to extract that value - in this case, protecting species and their environments.
I've thrown out hypothetical examples, but I'm not an environmental activist, I don't pretend to understand the market. But I know the market is there, because this thread is dedicated to discussing the market opportunity.
This is a very real problem for communities in Africa and the Amazon basin; they are unable to build the infrastructure necessary for further development because privileged Western animal rights activists are more concerned with protecting animals than other humans.
There's a very good reason to be extremely conservative in extinguishing a species, with the benefit of hindsight it won't be worth it. The extinction of the mammoths and dodos also increased economic growth for someone at the time.
Allowing that line of reasoning seems to flip teams a lot.
(I don't condone either side's usage)
Daily reminder: extinction and speciation go hand-in-hand. It's not like there's a finite number of species and we're going to run out of them.
"So profound is our ignorance, and so high our presumption, that we marvel when we hear of the extinction of an organic being; and as we do not see the cause, we invoke cataclysms to desolate the world, or invent laws on the duration of the forms of life!" ~Charles Darwin
It's not like there are just a few 'gnats' here and there going extinct. This is an ongoing ecological collapse we are the cause of, and in the middle of.
The goal is to limit species loss due to human impact on the natural environment. Generally, no one's even suggesting that we stop impacting that environment; merely that we stop ourselves when our impact becomes great enough to threaten biodiversity loss.
Secondly, these animals aren't abandoning their niches, they're losing them due to human activities. There is no room for another species to adapt to it, because there is nothing there to adapt to anymore.