China, a country that has shown significant environmental leadership in embracing new technology such as high efficiency wind and advanced solar power, is showing the other half of its enviro face by announcing its intention to auction off hunting permits for endangered species. Revenue from the permits would be used to protect wild animals, but presumable not from hunters.
This article should give us all a powerful dose of insight into the political hurdles facing environmental causes throughout the world. Environmentalism is still approached as a special interest, and the ability to stand back and make objective decisions about the natural world for its own sake is a way of thinking that most people are far removed from. At heart, for good or bad, most people make decisions based on their best interests., so while a nation of 1 billion people can readily see the risk of climate change and mercury pollution from their growing energy needs, commitments to renewable energy policy are made because of the risk to the health and future of the country, not due to some inherent sense of environmental value.
The fate of the species and wildlife faces a more uncertain future, so long as their survival is seen as separate from the fate of the farmers or entrepreneurs that stand to profit from cultivating the land they rely on or from auctioning off their death certificates under the guise of species protection.
Bridging that gap in thinking is the real challenge of environmentalists. Preaching to the choir about species preservation creates no momentum for change and will never win over the people who either stand to profit from their death, or simply see no issue with the extinction of species great or small.
Future success lies in brining forward the values behind the environmental movement - our inherent connection to the environment, the unique beauty of our wild places and the creatures that, and most importantly the idea that the Earth is a single interdependent system that carries with it the keys to our very survival and that any assault on that system, is ultimately an assault on ourselves. Intuitively, most people realize this. Creating the political will for change is simply a matter of demonstrating how far from that ideal we have fallen.