Thursday, 28 February 2013

Who comes first? Shark or man?[updated]

Poor Adam Strange was killed yesterday at Auckland’s Muriwai Beach by a White Pointer shark.

Despite police firing shots at the shark after it had killed Mr Strange, the man-eating White Pointer is a protected species in New Zealand, and has been since 2006.

As I said when Chris Carter so cavalierly added the Great White to the Department of Conservation’s list of protected species, this policy conserves everything except human life.  But in that, it is part of a much wider context that

directly pits the anti-concept of 'intrinsic values'-- which environmentalists employ to say things should be protected 'as is, where is'—against real human values, such as the value of human life: from which all real value is actually derived.
    This isn't just a semantic argument, as you’ll soon discover if one of these protected Great Whites starts chewing through your surfboard. Or your arm. Or your loved one.
     A similarly stupid three-decade Australian ban on hunting crocodiles has seen numbers jump from 5,000 to 70,000, and an increase in savage croc attacks.
    David Graber, research biologist with the US National Park Service, once declared on behalf of mainstream environmentalism that “We are not interested in the utility of a particular species or free-flowing river, or ecosystem, to mankind. They have intrinsic value, more value—to me—than another human body, or a billion of them... Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.” City University of New York philosophy professor Paul Taylor adds: "[T]he ending of the human epoch on Earth would most likely be greeted with a hearty 'Good Riddance.'"
    Graber gives the game away by declaring the notion of 'intrinsic values' itself to be valuable to him: as trees, rocks and mud puddles can’t speak for themselves, environmentalists like Graber must be paid to do it for them. (Idiscussed this phenomenon the other day.) Responding on behalf of human beings, Glenn Woiceshyn argues:

While extreme, these anti-human sentiments are logically consistent with environmentalism's "intrinsic value" philosophy: Since man survives only by conquering nature, man is an inherent threat to the "intrinsic value" of nature and must therefore be eliminated. Environmentalism makes man the endangered species. The only antidote to these haters of mankind and their anti-human philosophy is to uphold man's right to pursue his own life by means of his productive activities.
The real endangered species, says Michael Berliner, is us:
There is a grave danger facing mankind. The danger is not from acid rain, global warming, smog, or the logging of rain forests, as environmentalists would have us believe. The danger to mankind is from environmentalism.
    The fundamental goal of environmentalists is not clean air and clean water; rather it is the demolition of technological/industrial civilization. Their goal is not the advancement of human health, human happiness, and human life; rather it is a subhuman world where "nature" is worshipped like the totem of some primitive religion.

    The history of how a love of nature has turned into a preservationist religion is traced briefly here by Robert Bidinotto. Chris Carter's announcement is just one more example of that policy: Protecting a killer as some sort of 'totem' is a clear threat to the rest of us.
    Fortunately, one person at least came out against Carter's stupidity. Me.

Of course, few listened. The shark was protected as an intrinsic value, and human beings were placed second

But there are good folk about arguing that a love of nature can be put in its place—which has to begin by abandoning the phony notion that pristine nature is sacred, that is has intrinsic value, i.e., value in and of itself regardless of who is around (or not) to value it.   Which means (as I also argued back in 2005) repudiating the “deep ecology” insanity that puts humans at the bottom of the totem pole, and embracing instead an environmentalism that accepts humans as first in the hierarchy of nature. 

That’s not easy, not when

fully a fourth of all Americans "see nature as sacred, want to stop corporate polluters, are suspicious of big business, are interested in voluntary simplicity, and are willing to pay to clean up the environment and stop global warming." That's one quarter of Americans who see nature as sacred, just as the deep ecologists do.
    It's true that there is now a growing tension between those who sympathise with the view of the deep ecologists--what you might call the 'romantic' or 'religionist' environmentalists-- and a growing minority who have reversed their views on issues of population growth, urbani­zation, genetically engineered organisms, and nuclear power (as I discuss in a previous blog called 'Religionists for Nuclear.'), but this latter group is not yet in the environmental mainstream, although they do deserve to be.
    On this question of who comes first, consider the case of Florida boy Jessie Arbogast, whose arm was bitten off by a shark. It's easy to agree (or to maintain a discreet silence as animal rights activists did) with the shark being shot so the arm could be retrieved and successfully reattached (but do note that such an action might now be illegal if the shark was one of Chris Carter's protected Great Whites) . That's an easy case with which to agree, and the justice of shooting the shark and retrieving the boy's arm should be obvious, as Tibor Machan quite properly points out:

Few among us would have hesitated at this choice: boy's arm versus life of shark. Of course the boy's arm is more important, and so the shark had to go. Yet, there are millions of animal-rights advocates around the world, many of them Hollywood celebrities with easy access to talk shows and news reporters, who have remained completely silent about their professed view—namely, that human beings are not more important than non-human animals.
But consider Tibor's further point. An environmentalism that honestly puts humans first would go further and apply the same principle applied correctly to secure the boy's survival and well-being to all the day-to-day activities human must undertake to secure their livelihood: Rather than seek to shackle human production and fecundity, they must recognise that the unique nature of human beings requires that they use, alter and sometimes despoil nature in order to maintain their lives and to produce wealth: no other means of livelihood is possible to the human animal.
    Supporting human life means opposing the 'religious' environmentalism that is often economically devastating to farmers, fishers, miners, loggers, and others who necessarily 'despoil' untrammeled nature in the necessary pursuit of their, and our, livelihood.
    So that's the challenge I put to you: do you agree that humans should be put first in the hierarchy of nature? And if so, do you agree with my conclusion here; that is, in an "environmentalism ... that...eschews any idea of 'intrinsic values' or deep ecology, and embraces instead the idea of seeking and advancing those environmental values that support and enhance human life."

This is not a “pave the world” argument, it is moving from the extremism saying (to borrow from Monty Python) that:

Every tree is sacred,
Every bird is great,
If a dune is built on,
Greens get quite irate.
Every bush is wanted,
Every swamp is good,
every shark is needed,
in your neighbourhood.

Are there really and truly environmentalists that don't put humans first, I hear you ask? that put bugs, rocks and mud puddles ahead of human beings? Well, yes there are. I quote two above. I quoted many more here.

As I say here, I'm sure we can all embrace an "environmentalism ... that...eschews any idea of 'intrinsic values' or deep ecology, and embraces instead the idea of seeking and advancing those environmental values that support and enhance human life."

A property-rights based environmentalism putting humans first is such a beast.

Good reading on this important subject here:


  1. 20,000,000+ sharks killed a year not enough for you?

  2. No. They missed that one at Muriwai.


  3. IMO, great white sharks should be taken off the "protected list".
    They are of no more value to me than (say) a mosquito.

    Only the greens would care if great whites disappeared tomorrow.

  4. Let's kill all the sharks! And all the tigers! And all the spiders (I don't like them)! And magpies can be dangerous, so can sea gulls! And what about bloody elephants! Put man first!!! FIRST!!!!! Death to the animals!

    And you wonder why normal people laugh at you.

  5. Judge Holden

    You should be fed to the sharks.

    Deep environmentalists would find that entertaing.


  6. "Who comes first... one man or all sharks?"

    There are probably around 5 people that die each year because of shark attacks in the whole world. Out of who knows how many human visits to the ocean (surfing, jet-skiing, swimming, diving, etc). Let's say a billion per year (probably much lower than the actual number). So using that number the chance of getting attacked by sharks when going in the water may be around 0,0000005% each time.

    Animals are so far down the list of causes of death for humans that this shouldn't even be a topic. There's a lot of manmade stuff that should be banned before animals are exterminated (e.g. cars, airplanes,McDonalds, cigarettes, alcohol, etc.).

    And the population subject is a different one. The human population increases by around 200 million a year at the moment. I'm guessing that number will increase with a bigger population. So in 10 years we'll be around 10 billion and in 20 years probably closer to 15 billion. It's obvious that the world can't sustain this growth of humans for another 100-200 years.

    What a sad place this would be with only parasites and humans.

  7. Peter, you are so right. Reading your post on this sick environmental religion I found echoes of what I have thought for 20 years or more. Especially the crocodiles.... geez I could hear myself talking on the same subject a couple of weeks ago at a dinner party saying exactly the same.

    In my view environmentalism is by far the most dangerous threat that humankind faces right now. Thanks for being a voice of warning... not that many people will listen...

    Dave Mann

  8. What's he right about Dave? That animals deemed by lbbos to be scary should be hunted to extinction? I find that tuis making a racket in the mornings get in the way of my worshiping of smoke stacks. Pass my machine gun! After all; who comes first?

    Stay out of the water, nutbars.

  9. Peter

    There is a different argument here, which would amk more sense:

    Firstly, as some commenter pointed out, shark attacks are exceedingly rare. Scary as hell, but rare.

    Secondly, as an apex predator sharks are required for a healthy ecosystem. I say this not as a greenie, but as a capitalist.

    In South Africa for example, great whites limit the number of seals, which in turn takes pressure of fish stocks leading to more productive fisheries.

    The economic gain from this more than offsets the very low risk of loss of human life.

    We need to manage our natural environment, and that may involve protecting sharks against extermination.

  10. No, Dolf. No, no, no. You have to kill all the seals too! They smell, and if you get too close to them they bark at you. Who comes first? Man or seal?

  11. Start from this premise: 'What's good for human life." And work from there.

    BTW, the troll's figure of 20,000,000+ sharks killed per year is made up.

    The ACC's figure however of 200 NZers injured by sharks in the last decade is not.

  12. And you don't need to make up the number of mines, plants, factories, quarries, houses, marinas, dams, turbines, power plants and agricultural enterprises that have either been closed, still-born or made uneconomic because of concerns they might "damage" slugs, snails, trees, rocks, sand dunes, mangroves or mud puddles.

    As I say, start from this premise: 'What's good for human life." And work from there.

  13. Humans come first. But actions need to be rational long term just like selfishness.

    Killing all sharks is irrational as well as protecting all sharks.

    Our fear of sharks attacks is irrational and stats show. Decisions should not be based on such irrational but real fear.

    With humans on top of the food chain, it is up to us to manage shark stocks rationally to our benefit taking into account all aspects.

  14. Destruction of ecosystems because you're scared of animals is not good for human life. Thanks for that.

  15. The figure was approximate, not made up. I would expect you to know the difference.

    Estimates range from 25-73 million, a study published in National Geographic put it at around 38 million. I went with the lower, and probably closest to correct, estimate.

    It's hard to tell because the industry is highly secretive and generally wary of any attempt to investigate it.

    And frankly, I fail to see how shark fin soup is essential for human life.

  16. Your argument is not about 'what's good for human life' it's about convenience.

    If you swim 200m off the coast of NZ you have a very slim chance of being attacked. But you reckon we should kill all the sharks to reduce that chance to zero.

    It's a childish, asinine argument. By this logic we should slaughter all the wildlife in Africa so people can wander around wherever they want without being attacked.

  17. @Ross, please read. I don't say "kill them all," I say don't protect them. There is a difference.

    "By this logic we should slaughter all the wildlife in Africa so people can wander around wherever they want without being attacked."

    Well, we should certainly not expect people to welcome elephants into their grain fields--but the philosophy of "intrinsic values" puts them there.

    We should certainly not expect them to have to struggle with using wood for fuel--but the philosophy of "intrinsic values" rules out most other forms of more useful and healthful energy.

    We should certainly not expect millions of people to die from mosquito bites--but that's what we've come to expect from the philosophy of intrinsic values: a philosophy that, once accepted sees human food production as less important than elephant habitat; that sees decent energy production less important than unproven claims about a pristine stratosphere; that sees millions dying of malaria due to bans on DDT as less important than made-up claims about bird populations.

    Bad philosophy--putting humans second--has bad effects for human beings in the real world.

  18. And if not protecting them=kill them all?

    Well golly! Got yourself into a muddle now haven't you PC? Go back and check your premises, as God would say.

  19. @Judge: I understand where you're coming from and what you say makes perfect sense if one doesn't think that humans 'come first'.

    Sadly, as PC points out, this view has become become so ingrained in our global culture that the health, comfort, happiness and even survival of humans is usually the last consideration when actually should be first if we are to continue to thrive as a species.

    Dave Mann

  20. biggest load of cut and paste selective emotive rubbish I have ever read........ the humble Bee which is necessary foir crop polination and food source for greedy humans also indavertantly KILLS ( to use your emotive style) thousands more people world wide than all species of sharks put together......lag

  21. How about this? The cops house shot at this bloody shark while it was Klinger a human being has now been FORCED INTO HIDING out of fear of animal rights activists! Are we living in a mad mad would, or what?

    Dave Mann


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