The Iron Law that confronts conservation

Conservation, in the end, is the politics of numbers. Without the numbers how can we bring about change? It is that honest and that brutal.

I am convinced that those who engage in conservation and who hold the view  that nature should be protected from harm tend to be genuinely kind people – but they still don’t have sufficient numbers on their side. Many more are needed to sweep into law what needs to be done. Some local issues may on occasion indeed be won due to the sustained metal of the few. And our admiration must go to such people. But why, in spite of stirring talks by many and fine television programmes aimed at winning concerns for the damage we do to nature do we still persist in our indifference?

Roger Pielke Jr. in his book on the Climate Fix raises an issue that should be considered by all conservationists. He suggests that policies to reduce carbon emissions have so far been singularly unsuccessful. He expresses this failure in what he calls the iron law of climate politics. He is of the view that when policies focused on economic growth confront policies focused on emission reduction, it is economic growth that will win out every time.

All of us need to focus on what Roger Pielke is saying here. This is where the battle lines are. This is where they always have been. This is the politics of numbers in operation. The majority want the ‘progress of production’ that will manufacture things to generate wealth and jobs. Yes, they would like things to be right by nature – but not at the expense of jobs.

If we are ever to get by this impasse conservationists must look this reality straight in the eye – and grind out a practical solution to this disparity.

Can anyone who makes a hit on this blog come up with a realistic solution to this problem that over-hangs all conservation considerations?


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