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.

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