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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The most dangerous pest: "Homo environmentalus"

  • Author(s): Bidinotto, Robert James
  • et al.

In this Keynote Address, the author draws a distinction between conservationists and “environmentalist activists” (also termed “preservationists”). In the latter group, he includes “deep ecologists” and “greens.” He postulates that “deep ecologists” either ‘drop out’ of society or join radical environmental or animal rights groups that reject technology and a utilitarian perspective toward nature; such groups include Greenpeace, PETA, the Animal Liberation Front, and Earth First!. By contrast, “greens” are more pragmatic and willing to compromise, while seeking to achieve a socialist, redistributionist society, centrally controlled and planned by ‘environmental experts’ such as themselves. Both groups of environmentalists descend from the philosophies of Lynn White, Jr. and Arne Naess, and the animal rights proponents are guided by writings of Peter Singer, Tom Regan, and Roderick Frazier Nash. The author discusses the concept of “intrinsic value” of all species, noting that those who decry human “exploitation of nature” are the first to deny that humans are part of nature. The author provides examples of how activists’ organizations have manipulated scientific data and used publicity to argue against killing of animals for any reason (e.g., opposing predator control to protect livestock, and rodent control to protect agriculture and public health), and use of all pesticides (e.g., claims that Alar, a plant growth regulator used on apples, causes cancer). He notes, "Nowhere have I found the corruption of science more acute than in the EPA." He concludes by suggesting ways that those involved in vertebrate pest control can more effectively communicate with the public about the need for science-based, wise management of natural resources.

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