Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Why care about Pandas, Tigers, Wolves and Whales?

Conversation on biodiversity from a forum, I raised the point that why do we care about rare wolves when there is suffering live stock around? A reply:

do you understand the value of variety, understand that a concrete desert cannot produce the kind of human stock a mountain full of wildlife & massive variety of life can ? The wolf is a teacher for strong humans & a hunter of weak humans. This is something to be respected & valued more than any gold or possession.

I understand the value of variety. Key noun 'I'.

These are value terms, everyone can have opinions and everyone's opinion is equally valid. When opinions on what to do in an area collide we fall back on political philosophy where I personally favour true democratic principles. Usually it boils down to the majority wanting to preserve biodiversity, say not mining an area. And an elite minority (corporations) that want to exploit the social environment for private profit.

But I would like a more concrete answer to justify preservation of biodiversity. The keystone species being wiped out causing massive effects to our planet is a good argument. Arguments that appeal to value terms, inheritantly subjective, are not. Why should one preserve the endangered Panda? I think they're beautiful and majestic creatures. But this is a subjective opinion. Why do we spend so many resources targeting preservation of, what seems to me entirely arbitrary animals, when those resources could be used to resolve suffering of live stock? I feel the same about these campaigns against Whale trolling. Whales are free range meat, they only suffer during capture. They indeed suffer absolutely horribly for the hours it takes these huge creates to die.

However, this pales in comparison to live stock. I just don't understand what the difference is. A cow or a chicken or a sheep, to me, is just as wonderful as a whale. I don't justify an animals worth by its rarity, otherwise there should be no such things as human rights because we are so numerous. Who cares if millions die? We bread well, there's plenty of us. I judge them by a formation of a nervous system. And to me it seems quite absurd that we care about wolves, tigers and panadas when other animals with equally well formed nervous systems are suffering. It just doesn't even compare.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Notes on Kosovo

Written 30/07/2008, seemed relevant for anyone doing google searcehs :-p

As I see it, it's a pissing match between Russia and the US. EU will remain more docile worried about the gas from Russia, although the UK will probably stick harder with the US for i) traditonal reasons 'strong relatinoship' ii) The Livthinkenyo murder and the associated expulsions of Russian diplomats.

Putin doesn't care about Serb/Slav protection or historical links. The slav brothers have been used as a pretext to get involved in foreign conflict since WW1. What he most cares about is pwning Bush and establishing firmly that he can challenge US hegemony and reversing the embarrassment of having the Russian brokered peace agreement, after 1999 bombing, being largely walked over by NATO. He wants to send hte diplomatic message that you cannot treat Russia like that, when we agree to contractal terms, you must stick by them. Furthermore, there's the minor stuff of Russia being hypocrtical of Checnia if it supported independence and Spain for the same reason, they have their own independent movement.

I read this article by an international lawyer, was quite interesting saying that the only legal method of independence is partition. The UN holds Kosovo on Trust, this does not entitle it legally to give it away to a new soverign. Holding a country on Trust is not a legal method of annexation of terrirtory so no good title passes. The only legal way, is a 85% 15% split, where Serbia retains control of the majority Serb areas (15%) and Kosovo the rest. I also read in other aticles, that de facto, Serbia is already in control of the Serb areas of Kosvo where Kosovo does not try and exercise authority.

In sum, main obstacales to independence

  • Increasing tension between US and Russia.
  • Dosile EU, effectively hooked on Russian gas.
  • Concern for Kosovar-serbs (10%, 200,000)
  • Lack of strong economy or muscular legal institutions (corruption, lack of energy)
  • Serbian insecurity that an independent Kosovo will lead to a rise in ultra-nationalist elements.
  • Political mis-mangement in Serbia, should be telling the public they want to keep 10-15% of Kosovo that is full of Serbs.
  • Minor concerns about multi-ethnicity being compromised
  • Jurisprudential questions of the legality of Kosovian independence.