November 21, 2014

Conserving nature and embracing each other

In Working together: A call for inclusive conservation, published in Nature, Heather Tallis, Jane Lubchenco and 238 co-signatories talk about the recent debate between the likes of Michael Soule, who believe that nature should be preserved for its own sake, and the likes of Peter Kareiva, who give more weight to the benefits humans derive. I left the following comment on the article's webpage:
The authors begin by asking why we make conservation efforts (an empirical question) and why we should make these efforts (a normative question). Then they lose all interest in the two questions. Instead, the remaining of the article is all about welcoming, engaging, embracing and listening to diverse genders, ethnicities, religions and philosophies; using compelling speeches and changing our governing language; matching values to contexts and audiences, and inspiring people to uphold intrinsic values no matter whether they exist or not; and getting funding for projects that do not advance obvious human goals. Near the end of the article they mention the need for "testing hypotheses based on observations, experiments and models." Except for that sentence, the article is not about science but about contemporary standards of courtesy (which I happen to dislike as much as the old ones).

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