Monday, August 12, 2019

The logic of weakening the protection of endangered species

I was trying to understand the logic of the Trump administration's deliberate weakening of the USA's laws on endangered species. The changes include allowing the economic cost of protection to be taken onto account (previously specifically denied on the grounds of possible political interference in decisions), ending blanket protections for threatened (as opposed to endangered) species, and a stipulation that climate change not be considered a reason for a species' endangered status.
Why would anyone make protecting threatened and endangered species more difficult and less effective? Sure, not all endangered species are cute and cuddly, but to do anything that increases the likelihood of a whole species dying out seems just bizarre and indefensible to me.
But it turns out that I was just not thinking on the same wavelength as those folks in the White House. The Trumpian logic is that any kind of environmental regulation makes it more difficult for businesses - particularly oil, gas and coal producers - to make profits, and so must be eliminated, or at the very least hamstrung. If a few species go by the wayside in the process, then so be it; there are plenty more. It's kind of the same logic that underlies conservative opposition to action against climate change: if it costs money without any immediate, tangible economic benefit, then it is to be opposed.
This was not a logic that even occurred to me, basically because I don't think of wildlife and the environment in those kinds of economic cost-benefit terms. That said, I'm not sure I feel any better for knowing the reasoning behind such a crass, ignoble and mercenary measure.

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