As if veganism and militant anti-livestock sentiment are not bad enough, hand-in-hand with these cultural themes is the idea of rewilding. It's being used more and more to promote the general idea of excluding humans from increasingly larger tracts of land so nature can take over.
Dr. Cathy Mayne from Scotland speaks out about this eloquently and I'd like to give her thoughts broader play. First, she points out that all human activity has an impact on nature and wildlife, both participation and exclusion. So does all production.
Re-introducing wolves, for example, is a human manipulated action. Planting a garden in your backyard means certain wild things will be excluded and some will be attracted. And if you don't have a garden, someone else must in order to feed you. The point is that a non-interventive life is impossible. We all affect nature and wildlife--where it is and how it lives.
She also makes the point that rewilding creates global injustice because if we exclude agriculture in one area, that means it must be compensated for in another area. Rewilding is a prerogative of wealthy societies who can afford to shift production to other areas of the planet.
This inherently is injust because it puts the wealthy societies in the driver's seat and forces less wealthy societies to pick up the slack for production. Where is the justice in that?
And of course that leads to yet another point: this inequity means that only wealthy people can access nature. Speaking directly to rewilding's elitist theme, Mayne connects the dots between the wealthy advocates and the domination of the unwealthy serfs. Production agriculture integrated in wealthy communities gives the option for wild natural pockets in nonwealthy communities.
lf all the wealthy societies that can afford to buy their food from somewhere else rewild to achieve some sort of righteous medal, like nature's approval, then all of the production agriculture necessary to feed them must occur in poorer societies. If that isn't quintessentially unjust, I don't know what is. It's equivalent to a new twist on colonialism.
I appreciate her take on the argument because too often those of us who dare to disagree with efforts to rewild are branded as anti-environmental and of course, modern day Conquistadors. We are branded as unsympathetic to the plight of the wildlife. These conversations are tiring because intuitively, righteousness seems to be on the side of the nature lover. How do you debate that?
But what Mayne has done is turn the righteous high road on its head. Of course production agriculture can be done badly. But boiling this down to the fact that my backyard garden by definition manipulates nature and affects wildness helps to frame the debate on different moral grounds. Is growing food immoral? It really comes down to that question. If it's not, then spreading around food growing is better than banishing it to unwealthy societies. Suddenly this takes the edge off that self-righteous glitter and re-frames the debate in discussable threads.
Twenty years ago the darling of the radical environmental elitists was Buffalo Commons. Remember that? The idea was to kick all the ranchers off their property and return (rewild) it to the bison. While any thinking person realizes are ridiculous this is, you have to take it seriously. Who would have thought, a century ago, that selling a glass of milk to your neighbor would be criminalized? We know societies can take strange twists toward absurdity.
So I'm grateful that Mayne offers a thoughtful and studied response to the rewilding agenda because reason can't have too many advocates.
Have you had a rewilding discussion recently?