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We hope that you enjoy our site, interspersed with the beautiful and awe-inspiring work of various wildlife artists, and engage with us for a rich and diverse dialogue on environmental stewardship. Please share with us your ideas, conservation success stories, and conservation heroes, so we can highlight them here for all to share and enjoy.
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, the stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” ― Aldo Leopold
By Brent Fewell
I never weary of great stories like this one, capitalism at work to improve the human condition and sustain our oceans. The Bloomberg Philanthropies Vibrant Oceans Initiative is the largest philanthropic commitment to internationally reform fisheries management. This Partnership between Encourage Capital, RARE, and Oceana will help Brazil, Chile and the Philippines sustainably manage their fisheries, enhance food security and strengthen local communities.
Daniel Botkin, , Religion and Nature,anthropogenic climate change,Balance of Nature,biological diversity,Charles Krauthammer,climate change,Earth’s tipping point, ecosystem stability, Encyclical,George Woodwell,homeostasis,James Gustave Speth, Judeo-Christian ethic on nature, Laudato si,Pope Francis
Guest Contributor: Dan Botkin
Throughout my career as an ecological scientist, I have been fascinated
by the connections between the Judeo-Christian religious beliefs and modern environmental science, and have written about this in various scientific articles and several of my books. So I have been especially intrigued that on June 18 the pope published his Encyclical Letter about climate change. It a fascinating combination of many things, some completely contradictory, some I agree with, some I don’t, but with an overall important impact.
One of the intriguing things Pope Francis writes is
When we speak of the ‘environment’, what we really mean is a relationship existing between nature and the society which lives in it. Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it. (Encyclical, Paragraph 139).
That people are part of nature, not separate from it, is a point I have emphasized in my writing many times over the years, but has not been a common part of dominant ideas in Western Civilization, which has tended to view people as separate, in a negative way, from nature — a view promoted especially since the beginning of the scientific/industrial age.
The Pope’s Encyclical Letter may seem to many people to be new, novel and unique in the history of religion. But in fact, as long as people have written in Western civilization, they have written about people and nature from a religious and philosophical perspective.
Pope Francis also writes in his new Encyclical Letter about the character of nature, stating, for example,
Frequently, when certain species are exploited commercially, little attention is paid to studying their reproductive patterns in order to prevent their depletion and the consequent imbalance of the ecosystem. (Para. 35), and
Despite the international agreements which prohibit chemical, bacteriological and biological warfare, the fact is that laboratory research continues to develop new offensive weapons capable of altering the balance of nature. (Para. 57).
This has been an interesting week to say the least. Sadly, Cecil the lion is dead, and it appears this beautiful creature may have been illegally poached by an American dentist. The anger and outrage is understandable, and many have condemned the actor and action. So what are we to make of all of this? For starters, human sensibilities on morality, ethics, and right and wrong can change over time - I get that. But a caution before we allow open season on trophy hunting dentists or, worse yet, prohibit the hunting of lions. I personally would not choose to hunt lion, but that is my own personal choice. As a young boy I was passionate about hunting, but read more
Reed Watson and Scott Wilson of the Property and Environmental Research Center (PERC) wrote a thoughtful article for the NY Times this week titled "Let's Fix Our National Parks, Not Add More." The federal government owns 500 million acres of land, nearly 1/5 of the nation's land mass, and has demonstrated its inability to manage these lands. Currently, there is a $11.5B in maintenance backlog for our parks, which continues to grow. This doesn't even factor in the $13.2B and $19.3B in similar backlogs to our Fish and Wildlife Refuge system and BLM lands. According to Watson and Wilson, Adding more land to the federal estate is irresponsible when the government is failing to maintain the parks, forests and read more
Optimism is usually not a word associated with invasive species management. Too often, observers of invasive species challenges view the situation as hopeless, or at best as fighting a noble but ultimately futile rear-guard action against the invaders. However, the facts indicate otherwise. When dedicated people decide to tackle an invasive species problem using a combination of targeted research, clear accountability, engineering know-how, a dedicated source of funding, and a multi-stakeholder approach, all sorts of positive things can happen. Examples of success are all around us, if we simply look for them. A case in point is the amazingly successful international program to bring back the Great Lakes fisheries in the face of the onslaught of the invasive sea lamprey. read more
Guest Contributor: Dan Botkin Throughout my career as an ecological scientist, I have been fascinated by the connections between the Judeo-Christian religious beliefs and modern environmental science, and have written about this in various scientific articles and several of my books. So I have been especially intrigued that on June 18 the pope published his Encyclical Letter about climate change. It a fascinating combination of many things, some completely contradictory, some I agree with, some I don’t, but with an overall important impact. One of the intriguing things Pope Francis writes is When we speak of the 'environment', what we really mean is a relationship existing between nature and the society which lives in it. Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from read more
Guest Contributor: Rob Sisson Over the past few weeks, we’ve read or heard many conservative voices offering advice to Pope Francis ahead yesterday’s release of Laudato si. That advice can be distilled down to “Leave science to the scientists”. Unfortunately, that advice doesn’t play well in Peoria or anywhere else for that matter. I don’t believe Pope Francis’ master degree in chemistry makes him any more of an expert on climate science than does my bachelors degree in economics make me one. As head of the largest and oldest Christian church on earth, the Holy Father does have access to the best and brightest scientists in the world. And he has the wisdom to call upon those experts and to listen to read more
Provocateur and friend, Steve Hayward, penned a piece in this week's Forbes titled, Why the Left Needs Climate Change. (included below in its entirety). Although I tend to agree with Hayward, in part, regarding environmentalists' compulsion and need to slay dragons, such as climate change, his brush paints too broad. There are many environmentalists, including myself (although I prefer to think of myself as a "conservationist" in kindred spirit with the likes of Aldo Leopold and Teddy Roosevelt), who are rightly concerned about the adverse impacts we humans can have on the environment, whether it's water or air pollution or the threat of extinction. Not dissimilar to Reagan's rallying cry against the Evil Empire and its attendant threat to civilization, read more
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of their employers or their clients.