As you know I’m a conservationist not an environmentalist. I’ve given some hints as to what that means to me but never really spelled it out. The way I think of conservation is connected with the idea of the “tragedy of the commons”. Resources that are shared are often misused. People have a natural tendency to look out for themselves. This is perfectly understandable. People may be embarrassed to take the last slice of pizza but they are perfectly fine taking the first six even when they are full after two. Conservationism is about being aware of those resources we have in common and taking care to manage them. The restriction of use is about making sure we have use in the future. That includes not over hunting or over fishing, not polluting, replanting trees, and much more.
There is a morality to conservation to be sure but it’s not the same kind of moralizing as environmentalism. In conservationism it’s not a sin against nature but against man’s intellect. Not taking care of resources is stupid. Taking more than you need shows a lack of self control. There is no mother nature to answer to no worship of the blue marble. Conservation is still, in a way, inherently selfish but just so in a smarter way. We want the resources for our own use and we make sure they are there for the future.
But of course there is more to it than that for most conservationists. This is the part that some environmentalists just can’t seem to grasp though, that conservationists can love animals and still kill them and eat them. But it is true. There is a deep respect for the animal. We want to conserve also the beauty and emotion.
Environmentalism is a religion. It’s about belief. Belief in nature, in mother earth, belief that there is something immoral about man’s dominion over the animals. That’s okay for you. That’s okay if that’s what you want to believe and have faith in. It’s not for me. It is interesting how some have reverted to seeing mankind’s relationship to animals in the ancient way, as something to worship. For the environmentalists nature is their idol, their totem.