Ethics of Conservation

Conservation is a magical term nowadays. In the name of conservation you can receive thousands of dollars grants, political influence, even gain public sympathy.

Within this new era, People acknowledge that we were too long sucking our natural resources without concerning about our earth capability to retaliate. We were in hallucination that our earth would be just fine if we cut down trees, burns up fossil fuels, or killing wild animals. Apparently, the world is not fine. We suffer the consequences of things we’ve been doing since industrial revolution.

Now, conservation is turning into magical term. It turns into political, marketing strategies, social matters. There is nothing wrong with that. What I’m concerned if this issue is just a lip service. Palm-oil industries blowing up tree-planting program while conversing more and more virgin forest into palm-oil plantation, chemical industries with cleaner production concept and yet still dumping hazardous chemical to the sea, and government in the name of economic growth give mining consession in the protected area.

Thomas Friedman in his notable book Hot, Flat & Crowded argues, to tackle world problems caused by hot, flat & crowded world we need to develop cleaner energy, being energy efficient and conservation. It is concluded that we have to optimize all at once. We cannot be concerned about one thing and ignore others.

Generating cleaner energy or energy efficiency is relatively  an easy thing to do than to conserve. We can expect the result of cleaner energy or energy efficiency within months or years. It is hard with conservation. You can’t expect to see the result within months if we protect coral reef or mangrove.

Conservation is not just a marketing or political strategy. Conservation has to be an ethic. Ethic is different than a law. Ethic is a norm, values, beliefs and habit which guide you. Ethic is something that regulates your behavior from inside, instead of outside. Ethic of conservation is sense of responsibility to preserve natural resources and wonders.

Conservation doesn’t mean to stop consumption. Most of people think that conservation is the opposite of consumption. We need consumption to grow and yet we need conservation to survive. Many environmentalists oppose consumption. It is not right. We need consumption to grow. With growing we can be prosper. Not every land or sea has to be protected. We have to protect those areas which provide critical ecological-support system.

That is why we need ethic of conservation. With the sense of  responsibilty to care for natural system, we can shape our behavior to be more ecological-friendly, put environmental perspective on every business aspects and protect critical ecological area for the sake of environmental sustainability and future generations.

The big question is how? Ethic is not something that can you build overnight. It requires several changes and often makes us uncomfortable. The best way to do it is to start from yourself. You don’t have to wait until USA, china and India ratified Tokyo protocol, or wait for your neighbour to have solar panel. I believe that every little action we’ve made can affect each other. It is the product we buy and lifestyle we choose has an impact to this world. To build such ethic, we need changes, and it is started from ourselves.


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