Saturday, February 18, 2006

Hijacking environmental concern

A colleague who runs an ecotourism business here in Alaska sent me a note from a potential customer who sniffily told him that she wasn't coming to Alaska until state government quit shooting wolves. She is "boycotting" Alaska.

On one level, the boycott is painful for Alaska ecotourism businesses, many of which are opposed to the state's wolf control programs anyway.

But on a deeper level, it seems to me as if "crying wolf" as Friends of Animals, etc. are doing may be doing more harm than good. The world is facing really serious environmental issues today: overfishing, desertification, global warming, ozone depletion, reduction of species diversity in many areas, and more. Some of these issues are causing irreversible damage to our planetary home.

The issue of wolf control is a matter of emotional concern, but under the laws and wildlife conservation practices of the United States is scarcely a matter of biological concern. Emotional harm is harm in any case, but when measured against overfishing, for example, seems pretty weak.

We as a people have only so much capacity for reacting to issues. I believe Friends of Animals and others like them are drawing away needed capacity for public pressure to deal with issues that have long term or irreversible consequences.

If this is accurate, then I propose that they are actually doing more environmental harm than good.

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