Friday, June 01, 2012

Conflicted Interests

I started this post a few weeks ago, but after the NYT just took the subject on, I decided I should go for it. I thought it was a little too negative, but the stakes with endangered species are high no matter how you look at it.

I went through orientation to work at Zoo Boise this summer as a "Zoo Naturalist," and I went in with  few reservations.  I wasn't sure that even the best enclosures were quite good enough for wild animals.  I'm still not sure that they are, but now I have a slightly different attitude about it.  Zoos create an educational opportunity that can't be replicated anywhere else, and raise a ton of money for conservation.  I think of it a little like I do animal dissection in biology classes - it puts a few animals at a disadvantage so that people can learn more about them and be inspired to take the next step and really get into science and conservation.

As a kid, I was a totally annoying environmentalist who would give you crap for littering, and simply didn't understand why people use pesticides in producing food.  Through my life, I've gotten really alienated with environmentalism in general, and have struggled to understand it in a pragmatic way.  I'm hoping my time at Zoo Boise will help me get back in touch with my environmentalist side (it is extremely fun so far), and yeah, conservation is quite expensive, but that's why part of your admission to Zoo Boise goes to their conservation fund.

One thing that I was very impressed with is that one of the nature preserves Zoo Boise works with, Gorongosa National Park, is administered in such a way that things are tolerable for the people who live there.  Money doesn't just go to maintaining park grounds, but to health care facilities for neighboring people.

Mostly, I've never been able to balance out the human needs with the environmental ones, morally.  In general, I lean much more toward helping people than I do animals, and I've always been extremely grossed out by the imperialist overtones in a lot of conservation movements.

To illustrate something I think should work pretty well, The US is trying to reintroduce wolves to their natural range in the Western US.  A lot of Idahoans don't like it.  Even our governor wants to kill him some wolves.  Frankly, I don't get it.  We have replaced a lot of the herbivores that used to roam around here with domestic ones that we like to eat.  Oddly enough, wolves like to eat cows too.  Sometimes they kill one - usually the gov't will pay damages, and so will an environmental group.  What's the harm done, if you pretty much don't lose money on the venture?  Camping is a little scarier, but it's supposed to be a little tiny bit scary.  (Last week, a cougar was seen gallivanting around downtown Boise quite near my home.  Frankly, I stayed off the greenbelt for a few days.)


Let's just PREtENDA that the woman isn't even there!

Congress has no problem with discriminating against already-born, adult, American gay human beings, but has a giant fit about selective abortion.  I hate hate hate that this invasive thought-police stuff is happening, but it's all the more insulting that PRENDA passed when ENDA has no hope.

Of all people, Andrew Sullivan captures the root of why this is bad, bad law:

I'm just deeply skeptical of how legal authorities could determine such a motive if the women do not say so. Banning explicit advertizing or marketing for sex-selective abortion would be another thing. But my sense is that this is all underground anyway, very hard to root out, and the kind of government power that would be unleashed in trying to figure it out is not compatible with a free country. I mean, how do you prove motive in such cases?


Right.  Who's to say it's the wrong kind of discrimination?  And even if it is, who really really cares?  China is seeing strange and bad effects from widespread anti-girl bias in sex-selective abortion, but there's really no proof that this is spreading much further.  It proves nothing, but I'd rather have a girl baby, mostly because I've spent almost no time with little boys.  


That's just me admitting a preference, but not intent to abort if things don't go my way.  Frankly, the kid will be their own person, so it's a roll of the dice, boy or girl. 


And I think that's the major point that anti-choice legislators refuse to understand about reproductive rights.  A significant portion of what happens in reproduction isn't under anyone's control.  It's a terrifying and awesome process, and the control a person can have over it should be their right, especially when it's happening inside her body.