October 14th, 2003

Yue grim

Le Sigh :P

Snagged from ceruleanst and others...

U.S. Eyes Conservation Law

In a nutshell, using the "chickens will never be extinct" theory of conservation, folks at the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have come up with the idea that trading "just a little bit" in endangered animals would give the poverty-ridden countries in which most of the animals live an economic incentive to preserve the populations.

<JOHNCLEESE>"This she calls 'using her intuition.' I call it 'crap,' and it gets me very IRRITATED, because it is not logical!"<JOHNCLEESE>

The key thing wrong with this boneheaded move is an utter failure to understand human psychology, particularly the psychology of poverty -- which doesn't want to learn to fish, it wants to EAT TODAY! Opening up "just a little" trade in endangered animals is tantamount to opening up another buffalo hunt; most endangered animals are worth big bucks to various people, and in most cases, they want the parts, not the animal itself.

History has shown time and again that restraint is not what humans are good at, from blowing away the last buffalo, to the inhabitants of Easter Island cheering as the last tree was cut down. When it comes to the endangered species, human consumption has got to go cold turkey, or it isn't going to work at all. [1]

I am assuming an optimistic interpretation here, i.e., that Fish and Wildlife et al. have the best of intentions and are just dunderheads. There are all sorts of more cynical views on the subject -- such as government drones drooling over potential tax income. Either way, it comes up rotten.

-The Gneech

[1] Note: From a strictly libertarian P.O.V., most environmental or conservation laws are pretty dodgy. Going by a libertarian model, the best way to preserve wildlife is to form private funds to buy, maintain, and protect said wildlife's habitats, as well as to fund research. In practice, this approach is a hard sell, because most people, when given the choice of building a shopping mall, or preserving the feathery-crested potato bug, will choose the shopping mall every time. A lot of endangered animals (such as the tiger) are endangered because their way of existence is in direct conflict with man's ... and on a species level, man has a big advantage in most conflicts. So said animals only become "a treasure" instead of "a threat" when they are shunted into enclaves ... unfortunately, most populations don't do well in enclaves, and even if they do, mankind's tendency to say "just a little more, it won't hurt anything" makes those enclaves an ever-shrinking habitat.
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