For my Earth day post (that is fashionably a day late) I wanted to put forward a very short thought. The language of Environmentalism could do with a change. Nowadays the word conservation is thrown around all over the place. It is a word that is threatened with a loss of meaning, likely to become another part of the language of greenwashing. Take a moment to consider the Oxford Dictionary definition of conservation.
- the protection of plants and animals, natural areas, and interesting and important structures and buildings, especially from the damaging effects of human activity
- carefully using valuable natural substances that exist in limited amounts in order to make certain that they will be available for as long a time as possible
So to conserve is to protect something from the impacts of human activity in its current state or to use something in such a manner that its end is prolonged for as long as possible. In the context of the environment you could argue that this is not necessarily a good set of ideas. In this context the aim of conservation is to limit the damaging impact of human activity in the future but acknowledges the idea that the end is inevitable.
Personally I prefer to consider our duty to the environment as one based on restoration. The definition of which sits more comfortably with my own ideology. The Oxford Dictionary definition is as follows:
- the act or process of returning something to its earlier good condition or position
The process of restoration suggests that its aim is to try and return something to a former condition. In many of today’s landscapes I would take this to mean that the aim of restoration would be to return those landscapes from biological deserts to species rich havens with all the benefits that entails.
I’m not saying you have to agree with what I have written but it was just an interesting thought I had late last night sat out by the fire.