Thursday, July 26, 2007

2005/03/15: I hate fake conservationists

Conservationists are too nice. They let all sorts of fake conservationists string along under the conservationist banner. This is leaving the voters confused.

Firstly: animal liberation and the protection of specific animals from human action, has nothing to do with conservation which is about the protection of species and ecosystems. Indeed animal protection is often at odds with sensible conservation. We don't cull koalas or fruit bats even when they are destroying endangered plants. We don't cull kangaroos but insist on letting them destroy their habitat and then starve to death. We don't allow kangaroo farming, so farmers are forced to continue with sheep and other things that destroy the Australian environment. We need to meet this sentimentality head on when it conflicts with the desire to manage the environment well. And we particularly need to denounce attempts by animal rights people to claim to be conservationists. The idea that the way to save animals is to not kill them is something that appeals to children and we need to forcefully say that habitat loss is the overwhelming cause of the loss of species, ecosystems and diversity. [Which is not to say that there is anything wrong with people pursuing animal welfare, I'm only complaining about those that claim that this activity is conservation.]

A second group think that conservation means conserving the view. So that people who don't want to see windmills on their bit of coast will try to claim to be conservationist.

The third group is opposed to modern life, and fearful of scientific and technological change. They are easily detected by their claim that primitive people are in tune with nature and never destroy their environment. How wrong they are! The greatest ecological disaster in Australian history was the destruction of the megafauna when Aborigines first arrived. Indeed it is impossible to understand ecological management in Australia unless you realise that we can't get back to the natural environment of 50,000 years ago. It is not the case that we can leave nature alone and it will return to a natural state. Instead without megafauna and Aboriginal burning we get fuel build up followed by ecologically disastrous fires.

A fourth group are anti-conservationists. They think that we should only adopt conservation policies when there is no risk to humans, and damn the environment. In particular they favour continuing to burn coal and build dams rather than moving to nuclear power. The environmental impact of blocking the natural flow of rivers and of pumping CO2 into the air is horrific. The environmental affect of nuclear power stations is to create a really effective nature reserve around them. An accident has no negative impact on wildlife. Chernobyl has allowed the native flora and fauna of Ukraine to return. Not that we'd embark on nuclear power if we expected accidents. There is every reason to believe that Australia at least would run such stations very well. And we can quite easily site them far from the madding crowd. And we have just as much uranium as coal. This is something we can do for the world.

The Greens are so heavily infiltrated with fake conservationists that I can't imagine them ever having genuinely environmentalist policies.