ECO-Imperialism Versus a Balanced Global Eco-system
From the time humans inhabited the earth throughout mankind's slow trek towards today, wealth and progress have been measured in terms of nature's resources. This has been true no matter whose version of history is read. From the Biblical figure, Joseph of Aramaethea's amassing of great wealth from British tin mines to the conquering majesty of the British Empire and the plunder of land and sea by western industrial nations to the modern high-tech fortunes founded upon silicon, nature has provided plenty.
The task facing the delegates of CITES is now and has been since the convention's inception to sift through the toll of such progress, take steps to repair nature's wounds, and somehow ensure that future generations benefit from the planet without repeating the missteps of those who went before. A daunting task to say the least.
Just as the framers of the United States' historic founding documents - The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution - exhibited great compassion and wisdom in the judicious selection of their written words, so too the authors of CITES are to be credited with a wise combination of restraint and hope. They recognized the importance and perils of trade. They brought to their work a concern for the earth's wild creatures and wild places.
Somehow, instead of nations working in concert to achieve a mutual end, CITES' Conference of the Parties, to astute first-time and veteran observers alike, might be characterized as a venue (some might say "theatrical stage") for political intrigue where decisions might as easily result in tragic as comedic consequences for animals and man.
Recurring themes of trade versus no trade echo in varying degrees throughout the corridors surrounding and within CITES' halls of discussion and debate. The great irony in that ideological fencing is that the most vocal and rancorous opponents of trade in nature's gifts are those who've amassed their fortunes, sadly to say, too often during times when consideration for the fate of animals, plants, and the earth itself was lacking. Great gouges pock the planet from minerals extracted. Vistas of hardwood forests vanished before wire and plows sectioned off the land. Whales and deer, bison and cod, and native cultures too were hunted without mercy. Great cities were built. Reputations made. Frontiers beyond the skies opened. We called it progress.
Congressmen beg to differ.
"After all this is the man who so eloquently expressed the importance of African nations managing their wildlife resources during his visit to Botswana two or so years ago" said Lapointe.The nations, whose people enjoy an abundance of food and opportunity, now look to ways to atone for the exploitive actions of their forbearers. In some cases, the accumulation of wealth has allowed the luxury of turning their national attention towards conservation efforts in their own lands. Native wildlife has returned. Wild places, to a degree, are set aside. The remnants of native cultures were freed to regain their identities. In others, the legacy of slaughter and exploitation of wildlife remains. No lions prowl European forests. Elephants have vanished from the land that once was Carthage.
Rather than be content to heal the environmental wounds suffered by their own lands (and in some cases, distribute excess wealth or even find ways of accumulating new wealth that encourage people in developing nations to pursue their own opportunities while maintaining their own cultural integrity), they project the sins of their fathers on those other people and other lands.
Nations that ravaged the oceans and depleted great whale stocks in search of oil to light their cities and lubricate their machines, whose people did not and do not eat whale flesh and blubber, condemn those whose people do. They equate the crass whale hunts of their forefathers with the efforts and desires of people who've hunted and honored, but never exploited, the resource that fed their children and who today, no matter how remote the region within which they dwell, understand far better than anyone the concept of nurturing nature's bounty.
Nations that have no elephants, but over history enjoyed the luxury of their ivory, and have no tigers or rhinos, but willingly joined in their slaughter, look to those nations that do with patronizing, accusatory eyes. Nations that once prided themselves on feeding their people at the expense of their wildlife, now condemn those whose lives are marked by the most severe poverty and who seek to stave off hunger with meat for the family pot as "poachers" and wildlife criminals.
Perhaps the worst offenders are the individuals and organizations within the nations whose larders are filled and whose children enjoy prospects of university educations and long health-filled lives that collect untold fortunes from well-meaning donors seeking to "save animals and nature" by barring the road to real progress to the nation's whose people have, like the earth, endured horrific exploitation throughout history.
These "animal rights" NGOs are the new eco-imperialists. Their greatest offense is that they cloud important debate with self-serving and misleading statements masquerading as facts. They posture as protectors of animals. Yet, provide no benefit to animals, plants the earth, or man. Power and influence is their goal.
For there to be any hope of a balanced global ecosystem
that encompasses human survival, encourages coexistence with fellow humans
and nature, and recognizes the value of biological diversity, and that
assuredly must be the common goal of CITES and its member nations, three
elements are vital. Those elements are environmental sustainability, economic
prosperity, and adherence to a fair and just social system for all mankind.›