Is Sea Sheperd advancing the cause of ocean conservation?
I hesitate to wade into this argument, but here goes.
Over on Southern Fried Science there's been a debate about Sea Sheperd Conservation Society. A blogger there doesn't think Sea Sheperd helps conserve sharks. After reading a defense of Sea Sheperd in a guest post there, I posted a comment. Here it is, fyi, edited slightly to make sense by itself. Feel free to comment here or over on Southern Fried Science.
The heart of the matter is two linked questions: 1. Does Sea Sheperd advance or hinder the cause of ocean conservation. 2. Are the actions of Sea Shepard morally OK?
As an ocean conservationist, I think Sea Sheperd hinders my cause. They alienate many people who are otherwise supportive. And the actions are not morally OK because they rely on a basis of perceived moral superiority over Sea Sheperd’s opponents.
Sea Sheperd exemplifies a certain type of activity that feels good but lacks substance. That type of activity is allowing oneself to feel morally superior to one’s opponent in an argument, and then using that feeling of superiority to justify almost anything. How many arguments are really so simple and black and white that it’s ok to feel morally superior to one’s opponent? Precious few.
But Sea Sheperd is attractive because it’s always rewarding to shout and scream and rage and act up about whatever one believes. It’s rewarding and reinforces feelings of superiority. It feels good, and masquerades as action.
Meanwhile, in the real world of making change, Sea Sheperd’s actions have created polarization and made actual conservation progress more difficult. Actual conservation progress involves hard work. It involves finding shared values and workable solutions to a dilema. Few people who are harming ocean ecosystems actually want to cause harm. They usually have reasons for doing what they’re doing, and they’re not simply bad reasons like greed.
Sea Sheperd perpetuates a cowboy movie view of the world, find the black hat bad guys and take matters into your own hands to “take care” of the bad guys. That’s a comforting view of the world, but it’s way too simplistic to be viable.
And...I think ocean conservationists have an obligation to speak out against so-called conservationists who are doing negative things. That's why I'm wading in.
Please keep comments on topic and civil. Disagreement is great, so long as it doesn't degenerate into name-calling and other bad stuff. I'll remove objectionable comments.