A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF ENVIRONMENTALISM IV

ENVIRONMENTALISM
Environmentalism, as suggested above, can easily be understood as encompassing the totality of environmental concern. However, we use the term here to speak of the transitional awareness between conservationism and deep ecology. This is, of course, somewhat arbitrary.
As the Industrial Age gave rise to an awareness of the need to protect natural resources for the sake of their sustainability for human consumption, so too did it spawn the realization that our environmental impacts were killing us. This was especially in England where the extensive burning of dirty coal had so polluted the air that by the mid-19th Century laws were passed to minimize its use. Both policies evince an anthropocentric bias; impacts on other creatures and on the ecological biosphere in general were not the primary concern. There were, of course, those who were so concerned, but they remained outliers, just as they unfortunately do today.
More ambiguous, perhaps transitional, concerns are seen in the passage of laws establishing hunting seasons and bag limits prompted by a decline in bird populations. Was this to ensure that birds were allowed to flourish for their own sake, or was it to ensure there would always be birds to kill? Does Ducks Unlimited work for the preservation of ducks for their beauty, or so they will continue to provide “sport”? Advocates for this kind of conservationism make the point that it kills two birds with one stone (sort of speak); the birds are protected for human recreational use and the environment is protected. It is difficult to disagree; compromise is always necessary. As previously suggested, the flourishing of any species will necessarily impact the flourishing of every other. To exist is to kill and consume. Even Jains who do all that they can to avoid harming other creatures take antibiotics and inadvertently step on ants. Ecology recognizes the necessary and continually shifting balance between all species within their specific environments. This balance is as much about killing and eating and territorial security as it is about a more romantic concept of harmony. Nature is truly and unavoidably “red in tooth and claw”.
Nevertheless, hunting as a human recreational activity might not be the best example of attaining such a balance. Indigenous peoples who continue to hunt for their sustenance provide a better example, and their impact is typically within the boundaries of ecological harmony and is exercised with sustainability in mind. Recreational hunting is not a necessary activity.

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