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07/10/2015

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Jim

The preceding post was great stuff, especially the three bullet points. The moral argument often includes anthropocentrism in that it assumes humans have the primacy to decide what is right and wrong regarding other species, when the real answer is the we are part of nature ourselves, and really no better or worse.

With this view comes the fundamental understanding that by killing parts of nature, we also kill parts of ourselves - and this includes both the moral and economic (extended to all human self-interest) sides. I've seen this thought echoed so rarely amongst others from both those pitching the moral or economic arguments by themselves, though. It's all so human-centered - they can't see beyond themselves.

Species loss is a bit like a perverse game of Jenga. Take away the first piece, and the structure is still relatively stable, but as pieces are steadily taken, the structure (or the ecosystem) increasingly weakens. Added to it is the positive feedback of some species having evolved specifically to benefit from/for other species. Take away the one species and the other one disappears as well.

The pangolin may seem like it has no economic value alive, but it's one piece of the Jenga structure.

One other thought - it's a small one and in the end, unimportant, but I've wondered about the habit of burning animal contraband. It was done with the pangolin here, but the practice with ivory has been in place since 1989. On the one hand, what else can the authorities do? But on the other, removing any resource from the market usually increases its monetary value. This has definitely happened with ivory, and poaching rates aren't going down. Even with more enforcement, the reward for poaching increases.

Also, I personally have a moral question about the practice. If one is going to kill an animal, they should honor it by utilizing as much of the animal as possible. There's something very wrong about killing an animal just to kill it or just using a part of it (the tongues of buffaloes or the fins of sharks). It breaks a sort of pact to me, and burning it seems a part of that mentality.

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