Thursday, December 11, 2008

Save the Red Knot?

Environmental groups have begun to push for stronger regulations and actions to help save the failing population of red knots along the beaches of the Delaware Bay. Can't we just run up to Joann's, buy some crimson thread, get out on the beach and just go to town? We'd have a ton of red knots in no time.

Ok, bad pun, I know. In all seriousness, there are some major issues I have with some of the things that endangered species advocates say. Here's a quote from the article, found here:

"Basically, the [US Fish & Wildlife] service is admitting that the red knot desperately needs help, yet is once again refusing to actually offer any help," said Caroline Kennedy, senior director of field conservation for Defenders of Wildlife.

There is a huge amount of arrogance implied in the idea that any living thing or natural process "needs our help." I'm certainly pro-environmental protection and I'm definitely not a global warming naysayer, but I do question people who basically try to get what they want by heaping shame on the public and the government. These are the people who misuse scientific knowledge for ends that may or may not be the right thing to do. Science is the act of falsification. In other words, science can only prove what is untrue, it cannot prove undeniably that something is true. Thus, science can bring us closer and closer to the truth of something, but we will probably never truly understand everything about something.

This is the problem with rabid environmentalists. They pretend that they have the answers to solve all of our environmental problems when, in reality, they--like all of us--only see part of the bigger picture. Are red knot numbers declining? Absolutely yes. Is this necessarily a bad thing? Well, maybe. But maybe not. Evolutionary theory tells us that species need to go extinct in order for better and more viable species to take hold. In that case, we need to examine very carefully whether we should intervene or not. I'm not saying we shouldn't, but I'm also not saying we should. I just don't think we have enough information to say one way or the other. Of course, if we wait too long for a clear answer, it may be too late and the Red Knot will go the way of the Dodo.

A second issue is the art of law and economics. Ahh..the American Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. Environmental protections and laws (like the Endangered Species Act) only become barriers to development and action for those who can't afford to break the rules. For a big corporation like Walmart or a super-rich private property owner, their lawyers and goons can break through the red tape and Mickey Mouse politics of these laws to let them do whatever they want. For those of us who don't have these resources, including most small business owners and middle-class homeowners, we're stuck having to abide by the rules only because we can't afford not to.

Ultimately, this issue is about priorities. Our State and our federal government only have so many people and so much money at their disposal. We need to pick the problems that are most severe and focus heavily to fix them. Cancer, AIDS, violent crime, education, crumbling roads and bridges, failing water and sewer pipes, starving and dying children. These are problems that we have ignored or under-funded for way too long. In contrast to these problems, things like endangered species and getting a man on Mars seem like extra credit to me.

1 comment:

Barry said...
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