Why conservation debates are so bitter

Marc Bellemare blogs about a new book entitled Food Politics that looks at why food debates are so bitter. He quotes the book as saying :

“The goal is to express through the diets we adopt a solidarity with others who share our identity, our values, or our particular life circumstances. The scientific for these modern food rules may at times be weak, but the social value can nonetheless be strong”.

We look at wild animals in different ways from oneanother (Image: @funambuline)

The same rationale can be applied to conservation policy where we have very different beliefs on how animals should be protected. The conservation world (scientists, NGOs and rural communities) seems split between those who believe that using animals for food, medicines, raw materials and hunting is an acceptable way to generate revenue to protect species and those who believe that animals should be protected with no utilization involved.

There is plenty of evidence that “sustainable use” is effective for conservation as it generates revenue and gives local communities the incentive to conserve species. But economic rationale counts for little when faced with different belief systems that are tied up with animal welfare, emotional attachment to animals and non-use. These belief systems override arguments for conservation based on economic logic or local cultural norms (that believe for example in hunting). The result is that we may be missing the opportunity to save some species from extinction because of a refusal to look more dispassionately at the pros and cons of sustainable use.

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