Food for thought.
jgroth at ns.net
Wed Sep 29 22:55:56 EDT 1999
Since some comments have been made presumptuously about my perspectives on
conservation, please let me explain where I am coming from to those who
would be interested.
First of all, I am not writing this with any anger to those who have
accused me of these things nor to pour salt in wounds. My desire is to
provoke thought, not anger. I am seeking with all my heart to be careful
in what I say and how I say it.
I have recently been trying to ponder the reason why my previous comments
inspired a very passionate and angry response (which by no means was my
intention). I want to learn more about the world and people around me so
that I may be a better contributor to everything that I come in contact
I have been described by two individuals on this list as an
"anti-conservationist." But, anyone who really knows me would probably say
that I am just a regular guy who is NEITHER an "environmentalist" nor an
"anti-conservationist." I don't believe that if you are not one, then you
must be the other. Personally, I have a hard time relating to either side.
I love butterflies, but it is also my business. I breed and rear monarch
butterflies for teachers, hobbyists, other breeders, or people who love
butterflies enough to invite them to their special occasion. People in the
"business" industry ridicule me for being a "tree-hugging" butterfly freek
while environmentalists accuse me of being an "anti-conservationist"
because I make a little more than $5 an hour in my butterfly business.
Yep, I'm making the big bucks now! My reward is not in dollar form.
Several weeks ago I went to one of my favorite places in the El Dorado
National Forest (in the California Sierra's). It is a place in the
wilderness where no other soul could be found. I usually hike high up
along the Consumnes River gorge and continually appreciate the tall 200+
year old Douglas Firs, White Firs, and Yellow Pines. Admirals and
Swallowtails are in abundance. I am thanking my God that this is an area
where chainsaws have never been. But, I still wouldn't call myself an
I don't think I need to explain why I wouldn't agree with the
"anti-conservationist" camp (even though I don't think I have ever met
anyone who would fit that bill). It's hard to find a person who would want
to destroy the beautiful things around them. But, Neil Jones was right
when mentioned greed as being a strong motivating force behind
anti-conservation. Greed is a powerful evil that we all must fight against
(within ourselves). No one is immune to it.
But, I wouldn't generally agree with the environmentalist movement either.
They have, unfortunately, harmed their cause by trying to create a higher
meaning to the word "environment." We often hear "save the environment,"
but what they really mean is "save only the parts of the environment that
Now to narrow this line of thought in relevance to this list, I have found
it interesting how some seem to favor one insect over another while
claiming to be an "environmentalist." The recent issue in NY with the
spraying of malathion got every one up in arms about the threat to the
monarchs. But, no one seemed to care about the mosquitoes they were
intentionally destroying (or any other insect victim in the area). Is a
monarch inherently better than a mosquito? Doesn't a mosquito have the
same right to exist as a monarch? What about saving the environment?
Isn't EVERYTHING a part of the environment?
Personally, I don't have a problem with admitting that I destroy some
insects because they are pests and keep others because I enjoy them. In
fact, the pest-control guy just came today and sprayed for ants while I
have monarch caterpillars in my bathroom that I am feeding. But, I
couldn't or wouldn't force others to hold to my same preferences and
desires that I have of one insect over the other.
The bottom line is that most people ENJOY monarchs more than mosquitoes.
That's why we are concerned about preserving them and not mosquitoes. For
some reason, it is very hard for some to admit that they are passionate
conservationists simply because they enjoy the thing that they are trying
to preserve. Maybe they don't think this is a good enough reason. But, if
anyone ever claims there is some "higher" reason behind the preservation of
one species over the other, ask them what their feelings are about
mosquitoes? Ants? Wasps?
I suspect environmentalists do not acknowledge personal enjoyment as being
the reason for conservation because they would have a hard time forcing
everyone else to agree to their cause. They couldn't justify "fighting a
cause" that would fundamentally only be supported by their personal
I do believe that all of God's creation has a purpose for existence and
that just because we don't understand that purpose doesn't give us the
right to eliminate them. So, please don't think I am advocating the
destruction of complete populations of mosquitoes, ants, or wasps. My
point is that I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to save the
parts of the environment that we as a society enjoy and not the parts that
we as a society don't enjoy. Again, please don't interpret that as a
blanket statement that we can all go about "willie-nillie" destroying
things at our whim. Like the Good Book says, "Do all things decently and
The difficulty lies in agreeing on what we all enjoy. We all can't have
our OWN way ALL the time. Not everyone is going to "agree" with "the
majority." People obviously have varying tastes and preferences. So, the
best way to handle this is for everyone to understand that we are
different. We need to come to the conclusion that when we try to preserve
the things we love, there may be others who don't feel the same way about
it. But that's OK! This is what makes the human race unique and rather
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