Matthew Nelson

Eugene, OR, United States

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Comments & conversations

157124
Matthew Nelson
Posted about 3 years ago
Do zoos help biodiversity conservation?
It's hard to strike a median of the two. Do we foster a safe environment for people to learn about the natural environment of the animals or do we simulate their natural habitat in an attempt to reintroduce them? Drawing off your example of the pride of lions, I think rallying up the large mammals that lions eat and simulating a wildlife habitat may be very difficult, if not impossible. Although it sounds nice, I wonder whether we can really have both. There is always the possibility of breeding these animals and reintroducing them as infants to a mother so they can be raised. Two problems with this is that 1) the mother doesn't take to the new offspring and they die or, 2) as Ellen mentioned above, captive breeding doesn't always support genetic diversity among a given sample of specimens. Without genetic diversity, the chances of the sample's survival is slim. The remedy to this, however, could be that we introduce them to a group that we know is genetically different from the sample. Then, in perhaps just a generation or two, a healthy population may establish.
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Matthew Nelson
Posted about 3 years ago
Do zoos help biodiversity conservation?
I really like your idea about shifting some zoos to a more university-like setting. It could almost be a trade-school for biodiversity conservation. Rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars attending a four year university, a trade-school could be incredibly cheaper and focus almost entirely on conservation aspects. This might draw a lot more people who are interested in this line of work but never had the grades or the money to attend a standard university. This is grand thinking, but I really like it.
157124
Matthew Nelson
Posted about 3 years ago
From ivory tower to prison cell: How can we bring conservation efforts to the public?
Along those same lines, I've heard that offering social incentives can really help as well. Take general environmentalism, for example. It has become supremely popular among the general public because it is seen as the "cool" thing to do. I think there is merit behind this idea. If people think there is social gain behind what they are doing, such as letting the neighbors know that they reduced their waste by half, then more people are apt to do it. This doesn't really propose any tangible changes other than being loud about the things one is doing. Some might call it hubris, I call it conversation. Get the others to think about why they aren't doing those same things and maybe they will opt to be "cool" too. I just thought this was a neat concept when I first heard about it.
157124
Matthew Nelson
Posted about 3 years ago
From ivory tower to prison cell: How can we bring conservation efforts to the public?
I agree, but I think our government has shown on several occasions that it doesn't necessarily care about our impact on the environment. Or at least they attach that to their platform, but creating jobs at the expense of the environment tends to come first to them. That being said, the general public may not support teaching conservation to children. When people tell me that caring about the environment is a hobby, I don't think that we are willing to force our children to learn the environmentalists' "crazy" dogma. I want nothing more than for the future generations to learn about biodiversity and conservation while they are young but extensive grassroots movements must be implemented to persuade enough of the public to jump on board. At the moment, only parts of the US would probably support it.
157124
Matthew Nelson
Posted about 3 years ago
Do extremist tactics push environmentalism forwards or backwards?
And I guess that is the big question. First, what do we call too far? You and I may have a different definition of that. But there is really no way to define it. We could use our legal system to define it but if this is our basis for rules, then corporations should be subject to this the same way extremist environmental groups are. But I can guarantee that they are held to much lower standards of "acceptable" behavior. Unfortunately, this issue will not be resolved anytime soon and I will continue to give my solidarity to those working on the front-lines, getting their hands dirty. I do NOT support the harming of human life, however.
157124
Matthew Nelson
Posted about 3 years ago
Do extremist tactics push environmentalism forwards or backwards?
Valid points. I do disagree with the petition-gathering aspect. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time as a petitioner, simply setting up a booth and waiting for people to sign is not effective, at all! There are deadlines to gathering these signatures and if these deadlines aren't met, the entire cause is wasted until the next term. I understand the sentiment that people are oftentimes too busy to stop and sign a petition. But I have talked to many people who thank me for stopping and informing them about the issue because they wouldn't have actively sought it on their own. Also, your annoyance by these petitioners is an opinion. I'm glad they are there. I may be asked 3 times in a day whether I've signed a petition that I signed last week. But if they weren't there, I would be saddened by their absence. A lot of people are annoyed by petitioners, but I, and many others I know, are not. Online petitions are an interesting topic. They are worth much less to a decision-making body than a written petition in the same way that an email is worth more than a signature. Point-and-click signatures are looked down upon because it takes very little effort to sign one. But that is the point. Many people find face-to-face interaction with petitioners to be annoying so they opt for the online signature. Online signatures are also easily distributed to the people. Each form of petition has its pros and cons. That is fine but I would rather see written signatures where there is an opportunity for discussion between the signer and the petitioner.
157124
Matthew Nelson
Posted about 3 years ago
Do extremist tactics push environmentalism forwards or backwards?
But even when we come to that point where we realize that nothing is working, will we make any changes for the better? I've already encountered numerous people who, after discussing it with me, became convinced that nothing we are doing is drastic enough. Nevertheless, when I asked them if they would make "x" change, they resoundingly responded with a "no" because a lot of the necessary individual, and even systemic, changes may require shifts in our way of living that reduce our already gratuitous comfort. The small scale extremist tactics, not necessarily the violent ones, tick people off because it highlights the things in their life that they are doing to support the environmental degradation. Many people, myself included, get defensive when told that they are passively harming the environment. But I think these extremist tactics make people think but when the mainstream media gets a hold of it, it just becomes a one-sided story about which corporation lost X amount of money. At that point, the only thing people are thinking about is how evil these people are. And I've seen that sentiment throughout this conversation. There is little appreciation for the work they do.
157124
Matthew Nelson
Posted about 3 years ago
Do extremist tactics push environmentalism forwards or backwards?
What is our alternative to extremist acts? Although Amanda related extremist tactics to eco-terrorists, I don't believe the two are mutually binding. Eco-terrorists employ extremist tactics but not all environmental extremists are eco-terrorists. Do we consider the group of individuals that chain themselves to a tree to keep the old-growth forest from being torn down as terrorists? I hope not, but the government may deem them as so because they are hampering our corporations. Reading through the comments on this post, I see a lot of focus on education. Austin Diamond, in particular, wrote about targeting the media because they have such a profound influence on the public. What if education isn't fast enough? Climate change and environmental degradation are happening at an excruciating pace and our method of affecting how corporations conduct business by consumer demand is slow. It is especially slow when you're implying to the consumer that they can't buy or do certain things. Extremist tactics tend to turn people off because most people are moderate. And consumer education could be too slow to adequately address the issue of climate change. How do we deal with the issues of climate change, then? In the end, the different tactics towards change are based on opinion. Congratulations, we started a Ted Talk where most people, who are largely unaffected by the negative impacts of environmental degradation, can talk about how extremist tactics hurt humans. I would argue the opposite and say that many extremists are very humanitarian and see the negative effects that these practices have on marginalized communities. But rather than sitting on their computer and signing an online petition to a senator who probably won't care, they are out in the field trying to change it. I'm just bringing perspective. It's easier for many of use to support the slow route, but many people, and ecosystems, can't wait that long. Neither side is absolutely right nor wrong.
157124
Matthew Nelson
Posted about 3 years ago
Should shark fishing be banned?
Came here to say this. The shark boats dump the de-finned bodies of the sharks back into the water because the shark meat sells so badly. When given a choice, the fishers are going to take as much of the most profitable product rather than lugging around, what they consider, "dead weight." Although I agree that food should not be wasted on the scale such as this, It might not be economically feasible to sell the shark bodies to Australia. By the time the fishers have factored in the lost profit from hauling in the bodies, plus the cost of transportation, the price of shark meat may be too high for the quality of food received by the consumer.
157124
Matthew Nelson
Posted about 3 years ago
If green roofs were mandatory in cities would there be less development and building?
Up and coming architects may have a hard time selling the idea of sage brush on building roofs. When most people think of green roofs, they think of them as green. It doesn't matter whether they live in the Northwest or the desert, we have come to expect it. I agree with Mat that the movement of water up a building is a terrible waste of energy and water, which is scarce in the desert as is, and Ellen is right that the flora should be native. A national law mandating green roofs, however, will just mean more "inequality." The Northwest will build the desired "green" roofs while Arizona grow their cacti. I wouldn't have it any other way, but this federal law would meet endless resistance if any part of it mentions native plants. We like to design landscapes that oppose nature rather than work with it and many parts of America would oppose their native plants as fixtures for their green roofs because they don't find them aesthetically pleasing. I think a policy such as this would only work at the municipal level.