Whales and Elephants

Sun, 2011-09-04 07:23 by cmoss

I'm posting a link to a fascinating interview with Toni Frohof on whales. There is so much overlap in what she's looking at in whales and dolphins and what we're trying to understand in elephants that I thought it was worth posting this interview. http://responsibility-project.libertymutual.com/q-and-as/the-social-live...

Right to exist

Sun, 2011-09-04 12:09 by Hans

Thanks for the link! The interview is very interesting.

It made me think again about whether our companion species on this planet have a right to exist, particularly the self-conscious ones, who have the capacity to suffer similarly to us humans.

John Doherty of the Reticulated Giraffe Project has drawn my attention to this question. The sad reality is that even the big institutions that are officially obliged to protect nature, rarely award our fellow creatures any inherent right to exist. Typically they make rules to protect certain nature reserves, then let these areas shrink. They make rules to limit whale hunting, but do not ban it altogether, and these rules are not rigidly enforced.

In fact, other creatures only exist as long as we let them, for example because of their utilitarian value (cashing in on tourism, etc.). We reserve the right to change the rules and take their land, and thus indirectly kill them, whenever it pleases us. We can afford this because we are stronger, because we can erect fences, because we have guns.

If we admitted to a right to exist for all creatures, the considerations would be quite different. We would have to balance our rights against theirs and would have to ponder coexistence, rather than conservation. We would be obliged to seek compromises in land use. We could no longer treat our fellow creatures as objects at our disposal. We would have to consider their needs, not only ours.

We would have to balance our lives against theirs, rather than short-sightedly promoting our lives at the expense of theirs. That would be a true mark of a higher level of civilization.

Right to exist

Sun, 2011-09-04 15:42 by del

Hans - if we did as you propose and admitted that other creatures have a right to exist then we would not only save them but also ourselves. We'd be forced to build a truly sustainable civilization, one based on cooperation and coexistence instead of competition and exploitation. Most, if not all, of the really serious problems confronting us like overpopulation, environmental degradation, climate change, etc. would simply fade away. Of course, this would mean a fundamental shift in humankind's outlook on itself and its place in the world and unlikely to happen until something ReallyReallyBad happens....

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