What does capitalism have to do with nature/animal conservation efforts? A lot–and I don’t just mean that ecopolitics and rescue efforts for flora and fauna have become a lucrative business in neoliberalism. More specifically, addressing issues regarding the extinction of species and the accelerating exploitation of natural resources raises the necessity to address fundamental contradictions in the logic and structure of capitalism, revealing precisely that capitalism is NOT “the best thing that may be out there after all,” as contemporary pragmatism may have it. On the contrary, looking at ecopolitics and the limits the capitalist structure/logic imposes upon our efforts to save species from extinction indicates precisely the impossibility of solving problems by confining the process of thinking of solutions to the capitalist paradigm. Capitalism and its closing off of imaginative possibility is the death of Utopia and quite literally the death of species that suffer from our unwillingness to depart from a structure ridden with contradictions that gradually and seemingly inevitably robs itself of its own basis.
Recently, a team of photographers, scientists and students traveled to the West African island of Bioko to document the gradual destruction of one of the world’s last nature paradises. One of the most shocking problems they encountered is the trade in bush meat. Prohibited by the government to preserve the island’s impressive species variety (especially monkeys), the extreme poverty of the local population and the possibility of earning $200 plus for a male drill on the local bush meat markets render such conservation efforts hopeless. National Geographic has a quite moving series of photographs on the issue (as well as a feature article) you can find here. What can we do about this? First, we can donate to the local conservation effort (see NG website) to provide short-term aid. Second, we can support progressive grassroots efforts that support community organizations addressing poverty in Africa (similar to the effort put forth by Work and Hour, to which I provided the link a few days ago). Third, and most importantly, we can choose to oppose the WTO, the global policies of the G8, vote in a manner the shapes and puts pressure on our local governments to address issues of global poverty (and the ecopolitical issues connected to them) and ultimately we can choose to think beyond the damaging confines of capitalism
Please look at the series of pictures documenting the trip to Bioko, especially those of the bush meat market. They are here.