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Imagine A World Without... by Bill Knell

Having grown up in the 1960s I can honestly say that conservationists and environmentalists have done much to change our world for the better. I can recall a time when a ride into New York City from my Long Island home meant that I would have trouble breathing once we arrived in Manhattan. That is not true today and it is a pleasure to see that one can view the city skyline without seeing the yellow haze that once disgraced the Big Apple and other major U.S. cities. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we once thought about saving the environment for the sake of people. Now it seems we’re trying to save it in spite of them.

The days of millions of buffaloes roaming the open plains of the United States ended when Settlers decided to kill these animals for no good reason other than sport during the Nineteenth Century. Examples like that show a need to create sensible measures to protect wildlife against those that would kill just for the sake of killing to the place where a certain species comes close to extinction. That is sensible conservation and a far cry from land management laws and policies that place the importance of any animal species above the survival of people or their ability to live life in a safe and affordable manner. That is conservation gone wild.

As a kid I recall seeing some sort of newspaper or magazine ad which said something like, “Imagine a world without pollution.” In those days many of us doubted that anyone had enough resolve to force the clean up of horribly polluted waterways or do something about the dirty air. Fortunately, some people did and I am forever grateful to them. I also recall seeing ads that came out in years to follow which said something like, “Imagine a world without Zebras (or other types of animals)” Those types of ads were very effective in creating legislation to protect endangered species of animals.

I see nothing wrong with protecting animals, but I again wonder about the wisdom of protecting animals that may represent a threat to humans or creatures that keep people from living their lives in the best and most affordable way possible. Just like the environmentalists, the conservationists have moved from what I believe was common sense conservation to an extreme point of view which gives wildlife equal status with humans or even moves the need for their protection and survival about that of our own.

There is an ugly truth here that we all have to face. Nature chooses winners and losers. It once chose to give humans preeminence over the animal kingdom and that means we get first dibs on things like land and water which we should manage properly to insure our own long term survival. If a species of animals can coexist with us, that’s fine. If we can help things along by providing them with protected areas to dwell in, that’s also fine. What is not fine is allowing whole forests to burn up from lightning strikes when that wood can be harvested for our use just to make a spurious attempt to save an old tree or some worm, owl or bug. And there are some other things that are also not fine.

The idea of re-populating a region with wolves or other predators that will eventually create a threat to people and livestock is not fine. Passing strict laws that keep people from killing these beasts and giving them better protection then a developing human in a woman’s womb is not fine. Giving up your life the way that the Crocodile Hunter did years ago to show us dangerous animals in the wild and explain why we should worry about their survival above our own is not fine. Having a woman working to help save abandoned or abused lions that never should have been brought into captivity without proper oversight in the first place get killed by one of the animals she was intent on saving is not fine.

I say that it is time to “Imagine a world...” where we begin to put people first. Protect the environment for our sakes. Give humans clean water to drink and use for agriculture without taking it away from us at the same time in the name of conservation. Give us clean air while making sure that we do not freeze to death in winter or die from the heat in the summer because we cannot afford to heat or cool our dwellings using affordable and plentiful energy producing fuels. Save animal species that can be saved without endangering the lives of people or destroying whole areas dedicated to agriculture or livestock production.

Whether we like it or not humans need to eat. What we eat is a personal choice for us, but it is wrong to allow people to starve to save any flora or fauna and place the importance of those things about our own survival. Mother Nature made her choice a long time ago and as the old commercial points out, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” If we try to challenge the path that nature has placed us on we have embarked on a fool’s errand.


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