Environmentally Correct?

(4th March 2000)
A while ago I watched a programme on TV, which reminded me again of how different perceptions people have when it comes to the environment, and saving various animals in particular. This time two different views of the pigeons in a city was shown: How they bring diseases, pollute and destroy buildings etc. compared to how some people would spend a lot of money and time on the same birds.

It's the same elsewhere; Other animals, other situations, but a lot of feelings, and often a lot of money used too, to save and help these animals. Helping animals is nice, even if I can't always understand why people put so much work and money in it. But that's OK, it's impossible to understand everything, and it's often a lot of good work done.

But - there are times when I think things go too far: When nothing is spared to save animals and environment - with a too restricted view on the situation. Fom the actions of these "environmentalists" it seems to me part of their agenda is: Humans should not disturb the environment. By this they forget one important thing, with tragic consequences: Humans are part of the environment, we have our natural place in it.

Sure, we should not pollute our environment, nor should our actions cause the extinction of animal races, but the other extreme is just as bad. Despite of this, we do see these extremes now and then; The fisherman who can't go near his boat and earn for his living, because it's illegal to disturb the sea lions on the shore. Other fishermen get their nets destroyed by the many seals that are hunting the same fish - seals that are no longer allowed to be hunted, not because they're threatened by extinction, but because some didn't like that they should be hunted on. Not for food, not for their fur. The same seals, not having a natural enemy (the humans) to worry about anymore, multiplied and needed more food; The fish. With the many seals on the hunt, it not only ruined fishermen, putting them out of work, but it also became too many seals, which for lack of food became sick animals, which died slowly.

All this is documented, but it's unpleasant to hear about. So unpleasant, that many shut those facts out when they work for or support those who want to stop humans interfering in nature. As we see, this one-sided view is not always healthy or helpful, and it is wrong. Humans are part of nature, we belong here together with all animals and plants - we have a place and a role here. If we remove our influence in one area (say, hunting seals) we must to the same in other areas that have their influences (like stop fishing, and restoring other wildlife - including beasts of prey.) Sometimes - or often - this is neither possible nor wanted. (To take it out to it's extreme possibilities: Do we want to see polar bears in northern cities in Canada? Wolf packs hunting in New York City or Moscow? Lions in Downtown Cairo?)

It may not be "Politically Correct" to say this, but don't forget the role we humans play in the environment; Don't save animals for the sake of saving animals. It all boils down to the following question: Do we want to live with the nature, reaping from all it has to offer us, or do we want to live shielded from nature in an artificial environment?