Time and time again, wildlife conservation efforts play into our selfish, emotional needs as a vehicle for getting us to act. Focusing on how sad it will be if we lose a species, how terrible it is to see them suffering, starving, and losing habitat. Taking a page right out of the Human Society PSAs we’ve all seen on TV. Good luck sitting through one of those and not feeling just horrible.
This can be an effective form of driving action, but it sets a problematic precedence on what it takes to motivate us to care. It shouldn’t matter how we feel. We shouldn’t need to be saddened and distraught in order to give a damn.
Life on this planet deserve our protection and support for two simple reasons:
- They exist. Their life matters to them. They deserve that respect as we humans do. All animal life feels pain (we’ll save the oysters don’t have a central nervous system argument for another time), small and large, and we truthfully have no freaking clue what they understand about their own existence, even though time and time again we see evidence that that understanding is as solid as our own. No animal deserves to die for our greed, joy, or entertainment. Or because we refuse to adapt and change our own habits. They deserve life because they are alive.
- They serve a purpose. If you believe in evolution in any shape or form, you know life does not evolve and adapt and survive without fitting a larger ecosystem purpose. If you don’t believe in evolution, why the hell are you on this site? Humans serve a valuable purpose in stabilizing earth’s volatile atmosphere, although we’ve since pushed well beyond those boundaries and are now causing more volatility ourselves. For some wildlife, their purpose is abundantly clear, from apex predators like sharks to pollinators like butterflies. For others, we don’t yet fully understand the purpose they serve. That doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Biodiversity is incredibly important. Every unique species and every unique life has value, even if you or I can’t completely calculate it.
Let’s stop needing our own emotional strings pulled on before we care about something. That doesn’t matter. Respect and value the life of all living creatures as you would want someone to do to your own.