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Conservation Biology

Panel Discussion

MORITZ:  I'd like to do is ask our presenters if they have any initial comments that they'd like to make about the program, about what they've heard from the other presenters, or any extension of their own remarks. I'll open it up. Peter, do you want to start?

ROOPNARINE:  Something that we discussed briefly before lunch, identifying common themes or ones that maybe stood out is the idea of limiting resources and resource conservation and management. This complements I think the material that I covered and conservation areas, types of material that owner and lands presented, in that whether you're concerned with a species protection, preservation of wild areas, or understanding ecological impacts, a lot of our concerns really boil down to our utilization of natural resources and our increasing appetite for these natural resources, coupled with the fact that there are more and more of those appetites every second. That I think is a central issue we're now facing on conservation.

STERLING:  I teach a lot how we ought to be mutually involved in coming up with some of these solutions and I think I'd love to talk with you all about it. We've talked about things that to you they feel slightly disconnected and yet, like we were saying, the resource consumption connects us all. Half the problems in Vietnam are related to the international market, international trade, and people wanting certain things that are exotic or interesting, that we actually tend to be either the creator of the market or the advertisers that get people to think that they want the American life or to think that Americans have and how can we, as individuals and teachers affect that.

CRAIGHEAD:  I'd also add to this, besides changing our perceptions of what we need and how much we need, trying to protect areas for wildlife or habitat or resources like water is mainly a problem of public image. Except maybe in rare cases where there are maharajas or enlightened despots, I haven't seen a government yet that's been committed to protecting biodiversity. So it's really a matter of public opinion and outside of the realm of politics and law, in most cases, Canada especially, with a case like that where they have no environmental legislation at all. The only way they get things done to protect areas is just through public opinion.

So I think that's a key to anything. If you think of these grand schemes of corridors and core habitats down through the Rockies, it may seem like a real big, farfetched dream but it's certainly no less of an endeavor than, say, our interstate highway system, which nobody complains about. We all thought it necessary, even though it infringed on a lot of private property. So I think it's not a far stretch to think of higher priorities for scarce resources and getting people--and that's your job--to teaching your students that these are important things.

MORITZ:  I might just add one specific point. I'm going to go out on a limb here because I'm trying to get this from memory, but there's a publication called Caring For The Earth, which is a summary of a lot of the issues that we've been talking about and many more. But in terms of resource use, what it suggests is that the United States has the annual average per capita consumption of about 270 giga-joules of energy and Bangladesh has 2. That gives you something of an idea of the disparity that occurs internationally. That's just one major resource issue. That has some, I think, powerful implications in terms of what we as North Americans, as Americans need to look at and consider.


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