Re: NANFA-- Devil's Advocate

Jay DeLong (
Thu, 07 Jun 2001 11:05:16 -0700


> > You are a bad man, JF! I'm telling...but I don't know who to tell...
>Do you really think I'm evil?

Golly, no, Jeff. I thought you'd see that from how I said I wanted to tell
on you :-)
I respect you and your ideas and I'm glad you present them for
discussion. Reading and responding makes me think and helps me learn.

>I would not advocate giving up on saving the pupfish and its companion
>species in situ. Yet I see nothing wrong with captive breeding and
>farming it out to others. As for 'discreet units' ecosystems don't come
>much smaller than Devil's Hole- it might be possible to build a
>functioning replica at a zoo or public aquarium that could accomodate
>the whole wild population and the other species as well.

One could also make the case that since it's so small and isolated there's
no reason not to protect it where it is. I read on the web that efforts
with that very system are failing in the artificial refugia. Maybe not
failing, but providing disappointing results I guess. I don't know. There
was some talk on this list yesterday, but I didn't understand it because it
wasn't specific enough, and I think it isn't well-enough understood by the
scientists and researchers working with it. Hopefully further studies
there will reveal more useful information.

>This may not be an acceptable idea to you or others, and it may not even
>be a politically feasable undertaking. But perserving the fish in its
>habitat may not be politically feasable either over the long term.
>Government intervention is no sure thing - over the long term the
>priorities of governments change- we can always have wars , depressions
>and other crises that might force environmental issues to take a back
>seat. This is not an ideological assertion but a reality of life.

Jeff, these are good points and it's happening right now. The ESA listing
of Columbia River salmon allows power companies to take measures in times
of low water and/or high energy demand-- measures that can knowingly lead
to the extinction of a run. This is in the language of the ESA guidelines
for that species' listing.

The costs of conserving species and habitats in place are far less than the
costs of replacing or restoring them, if it's possible to do that at
all. I don't think it's a stretch of the imagination to realize that if we
create a surrogate Nature in zoos for Nature's protection, in little time
they may be seen as acceptable replacements for Nature in the wild. We
have been nurtured by the Nature around us, and without it and the R&D that
went into it (Thanks, Brian, for that great concept!), we wouldn't be
here. It seems the least we can do is protect Nature from her own children
(not say "Kids will be kids" <g>) All the world can call me names, but
good causes and ideals are worth discussing and defending.

>If you rate things according to Maslov's Hiearchy of Needs - things like
>the survival of the Devil's Hole Pupfish or donations to the Sierra Club
>or NANFA membership would be secondary to sustaining your own life
>functions- ie drinking water, food shelter and physical security. Even
>when it can be argued that environmental issues are important to meeting
>most of these needs - in a do or die situation they are still secondary
>- if given the choice between dying of thirst or saving the habitat of
>the fish most sane people would sacrifice the fish. Now one can argue in
>the case of Devil's hole and other desert springs that people have no
>business living there but tell that to the folks living in Las Vegas.
>Perhaps a little futher down than food or water - but of higher
>importance than a fish is the need for a place to live. Most people are
>deeply attached to the places they live and will resist with ferocity if
>someone else tries to move them.
>The point I'm trying to make by playing devil's advocate is that
>environmental issues have sociocultural and economic dimensions that too
>often are not considered when decisions are being made. When
>environmentalists fail to consider them or ignore them - they get
>surprised by the eventual political backlash when the electorate chooses
>a candidate with a brash anti-environmental stance like Ronald Reagan.

These are helpful and pertinent points. Thanks.

Jay DeLong
Olympia, WA
(or, rather: whiny jerk eco-Nazi cry-baby subversive godless communist 
homosexual tree-hugging tree-spiking tofu-eating pot-smoking hemp-wearing 
peace-love-and-flower-power-touting Jay DeLong)

"They took all the trees and put 'em in a tree museum. And they charged all the people a dollar and a half just to see them. Don't it always seem to go: You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?"

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