Research and Article — John Cox, Cascade Mountnains
The same ol’ tale that seems to aggressively want to prevail over a lot of the ongoing environmental and wildlife being destroyed today – especially within our environment, our Public lands, and America’s wildlife and wild horses alike. . . apparently is their reasoning for expansion.
History is also quite clear, both trapping and ranching a product of industrialization, and that’s all; simply peruse a little history and it is quite clear – and as we can all agree, that industrialization as we know it today, and led to believe no other options exist, remains quite destructive. Options do exist!
Colonization of North America by Europeans began in the early 1600s. Of course, as history notes quite often, we then assumed this started the “Real History” in America. Yes, we can be repugnantly ignorant, shown throughout history to be such – probably why comedy, and satire, so popular – because those who understand this arrogance can also laugh at our human downfalls, in the awesome attempts to correct such behaviors.
The United States was founded by loosely understanding the concept of our natural environment, and its use. But the low population of humans at that time presented no disastrous outcome of our wildlife; which was not until our industrial economy, and at the same time the beginning of an extreme population growth – expansion.
“Much of the continent, especially the western regions, was settled during this transitional time period. In contrast, Native Americans were living in hunter-gatherer or horticultural societies at the time of European colonization and American expansion. The clashes between these two cultures had tragic consequences for the Native Americans and also resulted in dramatic declines in wildlife. The 20th century roughly corresponds with the transition of North America to a late industrial economy.”
Not surprisingly, a dramatic shift in the attitudes toward nature and the development of the conservation movement occurred during that time. The examples of the history of bison and beaver show us quite clearly that it was a change for the worse – the corporate industrial complex, and human population escalated simultaneously.
The roll of Illusory Superiority (the study of which not started until 1991 and explained in a previous blog) established, and human’s more blatant than ever before in history, undeniably took upon themselves, ignorantly, the role of judge and executioner of our wildlife, mostly for money, well all of it for money actually – sell outs – the term hunter-gatherer, in this writers’ perspective, changed to an almost Pleistocene era human-nature (i.e. see Pleistocene Over Kill Theory) – and as growth occurred, the wildlife become less, then less again, in both stature and population.
“Species, in general, are primarily able to survive and reproduce due to biological adaptations that result from eons of natural selection and biological evolution. The cultural adaptations of humans have allowed them to colonize nearly every ecosystem type on Earth. In addition, cultural innovations have allowed the human population to grow exponentially for millennia. Such sustained population growth is unparalleled by any other species on the planet.”
The population of a typical species grows until it reaches the carrying capacity of its environment, then levels off or declines. In other words, it grows until it is fully utilizing the available resources, such as food and space. Nature upholds its strategy for keeping this type of situation in-check and through many natural occurrences of necessity – when nature allowed to fulfill its course of action.
If wild horses, for example, were in truth overpopulated on our Public Lands, we would be observing much different circumstances on our Public Lands, and directly associated with an overpopulation of wild horses. It does not exist.
The same is true with our wolf populations in America’s forests and mountains. The fact is we are not seeing any of the values that show us overpopulation of either species as being even close to being overpopulated in any areas of the United States. Although, what we do see, and observe quite readily, is the facts that do promote an overpopulation of livestock, mainly cattle, on America’s Public Lands. As well, we are consistently and daily seeing the destruction of our Public Lands by an over abundant amount of grazing and trampling our Public Lands presently.
“Currently the global human population is large enough” (authors note: yes, we continue to outgrow our natural environment) “and the technologies that allow humans to manipulate the environment are potent enough, that human-caused alterations to the biosphere are causing the extinction of way too many indigenous wildlife species. If present trends continue, there will be an eventual crash in the human population that will bring great suffering and cause widespread environmental damage. This is the root cause of the modern environmental crisis.”
ATTITUDE AND NATURE
“Each type of society is generally associated with certain types of social conditions and attitudes toward wildlife and nature. This way of organizing and describing this situation comes from a sub-discipline of anthropology called Human Ecology, which seeks to understand humans by how they interact with the natural world and with each other in order to survive (Richardson et al. 1996).”
This is essentially the way that ecologists understand other organisms, so Human Ecology fundamentally sees humans as another species of large social mammal living in the biosphere, while still recognizing their incredible uniqueness as cultural animals.
It may also provide some clues about how our global culture needs to change if it is to create a sustainable world in the future. Never the less it is Natural Selection, most of which we are destroying daily due to our industrialized mind set, or our ironic attitude toward accepting the destruction for awkward at best excuses, often cloaked within tradition or heritage, even though untrue – aren’t excuses odd, seemingly innocent, but in reality, extremely deadly!
BELIEFS AND ATTITUDES TOWARD NATURE AND WILDLIFE
Societies largely rely upon controlling and manipulating ecosystems to procure food, rather than on interacting with natural ecosystems and wildlife. We blatantly ignore interaction, in order to maintain our industrialized positioning in the world. We function ON DEMANDS and death follows most often, not on wholesome nor positive interactions what so ever.
In fact, particularly in the western religions, consistent attempts to assert that humans’ superior to animals, and that it was God’s will that humans fully utilize the natural world for their own benefit (Warren 2003). The wilderness is often considered a bad, evil place, and taming wilderness for farms and killing wild animals, throughout history, as much a moral act as an economically beneficial situation (Snyder 1990), so the arrogant ignorance prevails and continues
“There were also active attempts by different religions in the west to suppress the practice of the more animistic and nature-oriented horticultural and hunter-gatherer religions, although we still practice the vestiges of old European pagan rituals during Christian holidays in the west today, such as Easter bunnies, Easter eggs and Christmas trees. It might be fair to say that late agrarian religions often have an “otherworldliness” quality to them, especially in the west (Wilber 2000). The school of Ecophilosophy asserts that the corresponding lack of sacredness in nature and the material world helped fuel the environmental destruction that accompanies this form of society (Wilber 1996, Gottlieb 1996).”
The fact is, and very troubling at times when defining a more established Humane Principle, that America, within a generalized context, has been completely modified for human food production. The high population densities of our culture, also requires firewood and timber, so it is not uncommon to see deforestation for firewood (and resultant accelerated erosion of hillsides and other catastrophic situations) in history as well as today.
But one situation does promote another within our industrial landscape. For example, hills associated with the removal of forests over thousands of years, is followed by erosion of soils and intensive grazing by cattle and other livestock – totally acceptable by our industrialized society and in the name of population over-load. Yes, the sacrifices for grazing continues today, keeping the hills in a perpetual state of biological poverty and low productivity. Ironically, today we see 31% of beef products, for example, i.e. approximately 9.892 lbs. billion pounds of beef, being thrown-away as being a non-sale item within the commercial markets – so many questions arise from this situation alone – or should.
Interesting that within our society as it is today, it is quite possible for a person in our society to live their entire life and have little or no direct contact with either natural or agricultural ecosystems.
Different segments of society hold different attitudes toward nature and wildlife in early industrial societies. The new market-based industrial economy viewed wildlife and other products from natural ecosystems as goods to be sold on the open market. The result was the rapid plundering of wildlife by market-hunting, particularly in the western hemisphere (Warren 2003). This rapid plunder was aided by the attitudes toward wilderness as being “evil” or purely for human use, which were held over from the agrarian religious worldview.
Levels of organization in ecology: emergent properties.
- Populations are interbreeding groups of individuals of the same species, generally living in the same contiguous habitat.
- Communities are interacting populations of different species.
- Ecosystems are comprised of both the biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) factors in a given area; they contain both the broad biological community and all the physical processes (such as weather, soil, hydrology, nutrients, energy flow etc.) that influence that community.
- The biosphere is global in scale, and includes all the biological and physical processes that allow for and influence life on Earth.
- Higher scales of organization contain smaller scales (e.g., a given community contains populations of various species), yet all scales also possess properties that are unique to that scale and that cannot be deduced from properties of included scales. For example, the nature and strength of interactions among two species of meadow mice cannot be fully explained even with the most sophisticated models of their population dynamics. Thus, many interactions at the community level are emergent properties of communities.
It is easy to see how the intense exploitation of wildlife for markets historically, and currently, reflect the view that nature is separate from humans. . . “However, even the appreciation of natural places for their beauty, as reflected in 19th Century landscape paintings, contained the subtle message that humans are separate from nature.
In fact, the entire concept on looking at a “pretty view” in a natural landscape did not exist in the West until approximately the 17th century, and is attributed by social scientists to the increasing psychological separation between humans and nature (Tuan 1982).”
Many people, today, see nature and wildlife within a separate reality context, as well. Landscape photography and wildlife photography, actually remains a total disconnect in reality. Substantial belief of those realms where the photos or paintings captured indeed remain dangerous, and especially unavailable for the normal human to adventure into; and to actually see wildlife?
Well, for many it is better, and much safer, to see on television, in the movies, or within one’s very safe living room. Those dangerous animals, safe to watch the drama unfold on television, as the orator becomes systematically dramatic in the fact of danger; of a separate universe, or worse, death to the average human who would have the audacity of vanity to wonder into the depths of deep, dark, nature.
If you listen closely, the oration sexual in communication, drawing one into foreplay, then into convergence, to a rhythmic pace deeper into . . . and almost at the height of . . . go to — a commercial for detergent, a new sexy car, insurance, or perfume (in the past, the 50’s and sixties, it was a cigarette commercial most often).
Interesting how the complex attitudes toward nature developed during the early industrial era, one can state they were all influenced by increasing the separation of people from nature; thereby, the livelihoods and daily activities of most people in industrial areas required little to even no direct contact with natural ecosystems, wildlife, or plants.
The demand of market-economics for wildlife continued to grow until wildlife populations driven extinct, or to very low population densities, as we see today and many nearly extinct currently.
The best example is the tough leather of American bison hides, which made good belts for industrial machines in the Eastern US. It was the commercial hunting, ultimately, that drove them to near extinction. We experience the same with Ivory today, with minks, with wolves, otter, bobcats, and many other wildlife. The trappers sell the fur to Broker’s and for fur coats, coat collars, or with wolves, bobcats, leopards, lions, or bears, etc., skin-out the entire hide and use as one would hang a painting in living rooms and place on the walls, or as rugs.
IT IS ESTIMATED CURRENTLY that 52% of America’s wildlife killed (i.e. since 2000 GAO records/reports 1.2 million per year to 5.8 million per year)! This is wildlife killed for commercialized or other unnecessary situations for our industrialized commercial culture – then we get to the commercialization of animals, an entirely separate situation, and find millions more killed yearly, to supply food product.
Within our industrial society we currently make the distinction between domestic murder of animals as useful and required, and the necessity of the murder of America’s wildlife being too wild and saving them (i.e. a conflict here within both excuses, but true all the same – excuses are often very crazy and obvious) from starvation or overpopulation and destruction of our wild lands!
Oddly, due to tradition or heritage terminology, which supports the killing to near extinction, or to extinction, or abusively, or psychotically, it is our very disconnect, both from the term HUMANE PRINCPLE or ETHICS very much accomplished, and unreasonable. Here we can use the Wild Horses as an example and quite well, and the terms of overpopulation, of potential starvation in the wilds (a term to appeal to domestic horses that require feeding – which, simultaneously disconnect the wild nature of wild horses and their ability and nature to find graze and browse themselves, who in reality take care of themselves quite well in their natural surroundings, but in terms only overlooked just the same, and often). Yes, Humane Reasoning also defiled at this point, due to the nature of the excuse being so unreasonable that it must be true – television commercials do this extensively —
The fact is this — Humane regulation are needed on market-based exploitation of natural populations to prevent species loss, or simply discontinued – as necessity here is extremely questionable at best. Many of the first environmental laws passed during this era addressed market-hunting. Due to the loss of so much wildlife in the United States, between 2000 and 2016, common sense tells us these situations of market sustainability no longer exist, and the markets should cease immediately.
CONSERVATION AND BIODIVERSITY
Conservation biologists face the ultimate problem in conservation: “. . . the rates of extinction far surpass those of the most apocalyptic mass extinctions our planet has ever experienced (Ward 2004).”
Under human domination, our planet is becoming a biologically impoverished image of the world that supported humanity in past generations. Yes, and it led us up to our becoming industrialized, and something happened – something happened to our mind-set – something destructive – and something that seemed to allow us the types of abuse or types of killing that were unacceptable to us just decades before – and our imagination could define and create reason to justify the very nature and amount of abuse and death, commercially, to be okay.
We can no longer thrill to the sight of waves of migrating passenger pigeons, hordes of bison, perhaps the view of a wild horse herd interacting within their natural environment – and not just a photo but the real-deal, or the splashing of salmon in many rivers.
We are a powerful biological entity. We are making choices that will influence humanity for centuries to come, not to mention the Earth’s biota, even after we have gone. We can now perhaps define our existence; we may not exist in a few decades. Oddly, and seemingly acceptable to many, is the fact all of this survival is not predicated upon our knowledge of science or survival instinct, but on our very ignorance of ignoring our necessity for survival, and the survival of generations to come, as if to say: Who cares anyway? Well, a lot of us care – there’s more to life in a long term necessity for life, rather than the short term gain or profit margin, which exists today!
What will exist in the future will largely be a result Our Actions, of the actions we take today. We are the problem; can we be part of the solution, and set aside the ignorance, the aggressive industrialist, terms that confuse issues, and do the right things for survival?
Conservation Biology is a discipline that is attempting to find ways to make humanity more compatible with wildlife and wild ecosystems, using the best available science. It is a crisis discipline that is under-funded and under-appreciated. This is because its practitioners are mainly advisors and the real solutions are political.
The American people are justifiably proud of their record in protecting wild areas and species through governmental action. It is significant that there has been no ground-breaking legislation, however, since the early 1970s, when Republican Richard Nixon was President. Despite the popularity of our parks, monuments, and refuges and despite a public that consistently supports strong environmental laws, there has been a distinct down-turn in protection of endangered species and habitats in the last decade. It is hard to be optimistic when we see enormous economic interests pitted against the under-funded agencies and private organizations dedicated to the salvation of species. In the long run, species preservation will depend on us changing our life styles and making sure there continues to be room on this planet for all species – as all ARE Connected – our very life on this planet is on the line here, and ignorance simply needs to go away, and intelligent decisions, based on sound science, and then based on sound reasoning and common sense, with LIFE AS A PRIORITY, WHICH UPHOLDS HUMANE VALUES AND PRINCIPLES, IS VERY NEEDED – RIGHT NOW!
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