I genuinely cannot comprehend the thinking of our federal government in their attempt to water down our existing and grossly inadequate environmental protections, particularly at this time. We have just (and places still are) experienced a drought in conjunction with the fires last spring and summer. About three billion animals perished in those fires. Vast amounts of habitat were razed and iconic animals, such as the Koala, are slipping towards extinction. You would think in such a context that environmental protections would be strengthened.

It is easy to label the people proposing such measures greedy or other less flattering terms. I know I have. And they are to some extent true I imagine. However, I have always felt this labeling to be inadequate - a superficial attempt to explain what to some of us is inexplicable.

At these times I think of the wonderful writer Wendell Berry's 2012 Jefferson Lecture, It All Turns On Affection. He touches on various themes in this lecture but the one that has stayed with me is his characterisation of people into two basic groups - the 'boomers' and the 'stickers'. The former tend to want to "make a killing" which is driven by "greed, the desire for money, property, and therefore power". In other words, boomers are people who think little of plundering places in pursuit of their own goals. Stickers, on the other hand, "are motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve it and remain in it." I think most us involved in wildlife conservation work are more stickers than boomers..

I find this a useful way to think in those moments when I am shaking my head in despair - that not everyone is a boomer and there are others like me. While it does not directly solve the problem underlying actions such as the attempt to weaken our already inadequate environmental laws, it nonetheless provides a light to move forward. For as Berry concludes in his lecture -

Under the rule of industrial economics, the land, our country, has been pillaged for the enrichment, supposedly, of those humans who have claimed the right to own or exploit it without limit. Of the land community much has been consumed, much has been wasted, almost nothing has flourished. But this has not been inevitable. We do not have to live as if we are alone.

Wendell Berry's 2012 Jefferson Lecture

It All Turns On Affection

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