Would You Choose The Iberian Lynx – Or A Road?
People who care about the environment do not always have the same priorities. For some the emphasis is on maintaining the habitat of ‘natural’ flora and fauna. For others the most important objective is sustaining an environment in which human beings can flourish now.
Who is right, and can these two objectives both be achieved?
There is a story going the rounds of a fairly recent environmental conference in southern Europe. The issue under debate was whether or not a large road should be built across the Iberian peninsula, to reduce the economic disadvantage of those who live at the ‘far end’ of it.
The problem however is that this region is a very significant natural habitat for rare species of animals and other living things – including the endangered Iberian lynx. Many conservationists therefore strongly oppose the idea of economic regeneration in the areas where the lynx is still minimally present. “How do I choose?”, demanded one policy maker.
Here is an example of where ‘normal’ politics – regeneration and increased economic advantage for people with relatively very
little in the way of the claimed benefits of modern living – seems to clash fairly directly with the concerns of the environmental conservationists.
Obviously, there is an argument that, without environmental conservation and attention to natural diversity, there is likely to be no life of any kind on earth. But this may be a less immediate or pressing concern for those who have little material advantage, than for those more economically blessed. So what should the politicians and policy makers do?
What’s the way forward?
Can these two concerns be brought together in the context of real-time politics?
Would you go for the road or the lynx?