Dobb's argument is troubling

 


Dear HCN,


Edwin Dobb (HCN, 12/18/00: Still here: Can humans help other species defy extinction?) argues that we must accept our alienation from nature and, out of humane compassion, take endangered species into our adopting hands. His philosophy of "natural representation," while perhaps inspiring some individuals to protect wildlife, would be disastrous for the conservation movement.


Dobb separates humans from nature not on the basis of our current reckless use of technology, gross usurpation of living space and resources, or tolerance of extreme rates of extinction of our own doing, but rather as a consequence of our unique consciousness, "a sense that we are no longer of this planet in the way other organisms are." Given "the planet is our home too - for now, at least," the de-naturing of the environment that endangers species in the first place becomes the accepted norm.


I am deeply troubled by the argument that conservationists must resign themselves to the "sobering fact" of complete planetary dominance by humans. The psychotic global culture that is trashing Earth needs to be fiercely challenged - and ultimately undone. Otherwise, there is little future for the world's wildlife.


I wish Dobb had treated the important question of "why we want to conserve species" with less flair and more thought. Did he really mean to suggest it is unnatural to campaign on behalf of nature ("there is nothing in the natural world itself that resembles such behavior and concern")? How strange a notion to people striving both to protect wildlife and to live more natural lives by recycling solid waste, using solar power, and choosing organic produce. Tony Povilitis
Dos Cabezas, Arizona
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