Friday, April 25, 2008

Poster Animals....

Going back to the lecture about the clubbing of baby harp seals:

‘Cute’ animals, like baby harp seals, get much more attached to then other animals. Now keep in mind that many environmentalists want to protect all species and the ecosystem as a whole, not just the ‘cute’ animals. Yet, let’s face it, harp seals and polar bears are always going to get more attention and therefore more funding and support from a majority of the public, rather than an insect species or a three-towed sloth. Yes, some are devoted to protecting all wildlife. But to get the masses interested, animals that resemble human babies, or are considered beautiful and majestic like a lion or tiger, are going to get more support. These animals get more media coverage, which translates into more awareness.
Take the controversy in Alaska regarding the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the possibility of oil development: much of this comes down to aesthetics for the general public. Yes, the ecosystem is valuable, but I feel many people oppose it based on the fact it is a beautiful landscape supporting arctic and sub arctic animals. But is this a bad thing? Other ecosystems that may be just as valuable but not as aesthetically pleasing do not get the same amount of media coverage or support. I think how people view what should be protected is greatly based on aesthetics, as we have discussed in class. I think this is an interesting thing to think about in regard to protecting ecosystems and wildlife. Just as the first national parks were picked based on their appeal, are people more likely to support the pretty animals and ecosystems? Is this a bad thing or is it ok?

1 comment:

Jess said...

Whoa! I'm glad you brought this issue up, because I just remembered a website (which turns out to be a blog on this server as well) called "Endangered Ugly Things" (EUT) that I encountered several months ago.

This blogger was inspired while writing his college application essay. He writes:

"Take a good look at the WWF website, (World Wildlife Fund, not the other one) and what do you see? The giant panda, of course. Tigers. Gorillas. Cetaceans. The token reptile, a sea turtle. Generally cute and/or fuzzy, or, failing that, sleek and "handsome". Notice a pattern?"

"Well, that settled it. These were as imperiled, and at least as important as the black bear, whose stories have peppered state news. Where were the American burying beetle news features? The "Save the Wartyback Mussel" t-shirts? The Ohio lamprey plush toys?"

I wonder if maybe we could start marketing "Save the Dromedary Jumping-Slug" T-shirts here in Ithaca...!