STOP Killing Our Wildlife
by Schieck on October 6, 2017 - 7:49pm
The purpose of this article was to highlight the problem, we as humans have created through our overproduction and land degrading ways. This problem has resulted in a drastic decline in wildlife (especially those who live in lakes/rivers) since 1970 due to the destruction and degradation of their homes as a result of over production and over consumption in of our culture. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish have declined 58% since 1970 (industrialization), and by 2020 it will drop another 66%, according to an article that uses research done by the World Wildlife Fund to support these figures. Up till now we have treated our world as disposable, which means we’ve have significantly contributed to this problem. The good news is that because we created it, we are able to fix it. The article gives a solution that requires us to rethink how we produce, consume, and measure success and our value of the natural environment. Secondly it indicates that it will require an immediate system shift from individuals all the way up through the government in order to make this change possible.
I think that the solution given by the author is her taking an optimistic view of society, and a bit naïve, stating that it’s as easy as just having an entire systemic change to solve the issue. I see a few major concerns with her analysis looking from a policy point of view. Firstly, to change a system that society has created that is based around production and development, it has to be led by government. The government would need to regulate and enforce new policies if people are going to change the lifestyle they are accustomed to.
The first concern I see is that of “Value Conflict”. This is where there are different ideas about the goals, objectives and management of a system, and with our government/policy makers, everyone has their own idea about what our society should be doing to be more sustainable. Some may think that economic development needs to be the main focus to stabilize our economy, where others may think the focus has to be on environmental preservation putting the importance on natural resources. Encompassing all of these views is next to impossible and is why the author’s solution is not realistic.
The second concern I have is that of “Cognitive Conflict”, this is where people have different understandings of the situation. An ongoing example of this is that related to global warming/climate change, some people believe that global warming is not a concern because it is just the natural process of the uncertain atmosphere that moves back and forth over time, where as others see our rising global temperatures as a direct result of human impact on the environment. Because people have these very different understandings of the situation, it is hard to get buy- in that there needs to be an entire systemic change. Because of this I don’t believe the solution given by the author is plausible.
In terms of moving forward, given some of the concerns I have raised, I feel there are two major ways policies can help address the problem, with the first being substantive policy. Substantive policies are those intended to directly change behavior, for example putting a tax on carbon should in theory reduce the use of carbon. To reduce the problem of overproduction, there needs to be a cap of how much a company can produce per year based on a “sustainable” amount of emissions as a result of production, and then a policy that taxes the company if they go over that amount. The tax has to be high enough that the cost of going over is larger than the benefit, which will then keep companies to the sustainable amount.
The second is complementary in that along with industries, individuals are contributing to the decline in wildlife as well. To target their emissions footprint, economic instruments need to be put in place. These are policies and incentives that make it affordable and desirable to make changes in their lifestyle in ways that are more environmentally friendly.. An example of this could be a policy related to limits on the amount of carbon you can emit per year, and for those who use less than the allotted amount, the government gives you a tax rebate. This gives incentive to make environmentally conscious choices by changing your lifestyle.
To really make an impact on this issue, policies will need to be designed that motivate both corporations and individuals. Otherwise the problems are going to only get worse until it may be too late to reverse the impact on our environment and our ultimate sustainability.