Why do lots of sharks and spiders and snakes mean that the human species will survive?
I’ve been very privileged to have the opportunity, and the luck, to see a lot of beautiful creatures and wild places. They are what has driven my work in conservation and what recharges me. I revel in the daydream of seeing western North America with Lewis and Clark, or even more interesting, seeing it with the first peoples that came across from Asia to find the Giant Buffalo, North American Cheetah, and Mammoths.
But I work in the present reality of our dominion over nature and the complex problems of humans trying to figure out a way to sustain this world that has shaped and sustained us. This planet is now virtually dominated and managed by our species—even the huge systems like the oceans and the atmosphere are under our thumbs and laboring to provide us with the air, water and food that we need to survive.
I’ve given up the romantic notion of saving nature for it’s own sake, and never really bought the idea of a rights-based approach to species, instead I believe in designing and promoting models and ideas that will fully recognize that the economy is a wholly—owned subsidiary of nature, that the fabric of the ecology is best preserved by making the connection to good human lives.
And the good life isn’t about the Italian yacht or the Rolex watch or the Gucci handbag, it’s about clean air and water, access to safe and sustainable food sources, and livelihoods that can support families, communities, ecological systems and civilizations.
Sharks and goats and spiders are majestic and scary and miraculous to me, and they are also the indicator of our own health and well—being. I hope my daughter can see them too; if she does, I know our species might be on the right track.