Monday, September 11, 2006

Thoughts on Steve Irwin's environmentalism

Like many, I was saddened and a bit surprised to learn of Steve Irwin's sudden death last week. However, given his familiarity with the reptiles he typically handled, I always figured that if anything happened to him, one of them wouldn't be the cause.

The odd thing is reading the mixed opinions various environmentalists have of Irwin and his career. I was initially a little surprised that environmentalists would dislike him, but it makes sense on further reading.

Take the words of Germaine Greer, for example. She writes as if wildlife is supposed to be seen from a distance, and Steve Irwin's love of getting close to wildlife was harmful to it. The epitome of her rant is that "The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin."

Frankly, I think Greer's opinions are a perfect example of the absurdity of a certain branch of the environmentalist movement. These are the same kinds of people whose ideal of nature is to imagine "a world without humans." That imagined world is an absurdity from a philosophical standpoint. A world without humanity would have no-one to consider it beautiful; by imagining it, we are imposing a value judgement that is human to the core. The contradictory nature of this kind of anti-human environmentalism is exactly why they so often fail to be able to even communicate with political opponents.

What Steve Irwin understood better than many leading environmentalists is that, in truth, environmentalism is a selfish endeavor. I say this not to discredit the movement, but to explain why it is truly so vital. Saving habitat, preventing global warming, preventing extinction of various species, etc. is about protecting humanity and the quality of life many of us enjoy. We can damage the environment all we would like, and it will eventually recover, in a different form; however, we would not. Environmentalism is also about beauty and our heritage, and protecting it for the same reasons we would protect the Mona Lisa. Steve Irwin understood the beauty of wildlife, and sought to share that, and instill a desire to protect it for our future, as well as for our descendants. I believe that those who portray environmentalism as an altruistic endeavor do it a disservice, turning away some who would otherwise be more sympathetic.

So, we bid farewell to Steve Irwin, a man I consider to be one of the great true environmentalists of our times. The animal world was lucky to have you as long as it did.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Cindy Sheehan to run for senate?

So, Cindy Sheehan, the infamous (to Republicans) woman who is most famous for camping outside President Bush's ranch thinks that maybe she should be a senator?

She lost her son in Iraq, so I can see why her attacks on Bush could come from personal grief. I do sometimes wonder about those who seem to use her as some kind of figurehead for the anti-war movement, though.

Can she win a senate seat on her anti-war platform? I highly doubt it. California certainly is home to some of the most liberal people in the country, but it also has a decent population of conservatives here in the Central Valley, and a sizeable population of moderates spread throughout. Sheehan might make a decent showing, but she's a little controversial to do well, and I don't think she'll get much support at all if her only platform is "bring the troops home right now."

There is the possibility that she could get elected if she were to show that she has a political stance that actually has something to do with California itself, and not just Iraq. Senator Feinstein, who Sheehan would be running against, would have to basically throw the election, too. Feinstein is a pretty well-entrenched incumbent, and she hasn't made any major mistakes which would significantly erode her support, either.

The last thing I have to wonder is what Cindy Sheehan thinks she can do if she were to win the seat. At that point, Bush would only have two more years in office, and Sheehan would be a brand new senator with no prior experience in political office (as far as I can tell). By the time she could really get much going, Bush would be out of office. I suppose she could make an effort to try Bush for war crimes, but I don't see there being much support for that.

When I look at it from the perspective of the above, there is the possibility that Sheehan will not run at all. It could be that she is actually trying to pressure Feinstein into supporting her agenda in the senate. It would actually be a lot smarter than fighting it out. If she can pressure an experienced incumbent into going along with her, Sheehan will gain far more than trying to do it herself. However, she is not a person I would equate with subtle political maneuvering. She so far has wielded what power she has the same way Southern Baptists often do: like a bludgeon, and often a bit clumsily.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Political Party Test

You scored as Democrat

















What Political Party Do Your Beliefs Put You In?
created with

Interesting test. I doubt it's that accurate, as I think I don't fit as a Democrat any better than I do as a Republican. I also can't imagine why they would even bother putting Nazi on the test, as so few people are likely to test as that.

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I'm a Christian and political moderate (I tend to be more liberal on core issues and more conservative on the hot-button ones). I have a B.A. in Biblical and Religious Studies and Philosophy.