Why can’t we be friends?

Last week I read an article posted by an environmental group on the killing of two California sea lions at a dam out west because they were eating endangered wild salmon.  The post was written to evoke emotion and generate a public outcry against the policy instated by the government to cull approximately 92 California sea lions each year for the protection of the endangered wild salmon stocks.

And frankly the post succeeded in what it was meant to do – I was immediately outraged over the incident and the actions of wildlife officials.  The post drove me to write my own blog on this issue.  At the time I thought I was smarter than falling for a biased and strategically written article posted by a more radical environmental group.  So instead I found a similar article published by the Huffington Post.  I figured this was my way of ensuring my blog had credit and more accurate scientific facts in opposing the action of wildlife officials.

And naturally, not to base a blog post on one singular article, I started looking for other sources to support my argument.  But, in doing so I realized there was a lot more to the story than strategically placed statistics to support one argument (regardless of the source).

The recovery measures in place for threatened and endangered species are comprehensive and look at all aspects, natural and man-made, that are impacting the survival of the species.   But articles such as the ones I read do not include the full story.

Yes, the California sea lion is protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.  And yes, according to some sources the loss of endangered wild salmon to sea lion predation is smaller than that of commercial fishing and the construction of dams.

But the articles fail to address the other side:

  • Currently, this species of sea lion is in no real danger of becoming threatened, let alone endangered.
  • Additionally, this is not the only method being used by wildlife officials to improve the survivability of endangered salmon stocks.  It is just one of the many methods currently being used.

The articles were written in such a way to make it seem as if this was the only method used.  But it is not.  The endangered status of wild salmon stocks is from a multitude of complex factors, both man-made and natural.  The culling of the California sea lion is just one of many tactics employed to improve the status of the salmon.

It is extremely unfortunate that we have destroyed our environment to such a degree that we have to control the population of one species for the chance of survival of another.  But that is the reality of the world we live in now.

News outlets write a story with a hook, with a purpose, all to generate viewership and ratings.  That in and of itself is an issue when developing an opinion on a topic without any comprehensive research.

But, there is another issue I have realized with the topic of the California sea lion and wild salmon stocks.  An environmental group posted the original article I read.  You would have thought by the way the post was skewed that they were writing about the enemy, when in reality they were writing about other environmentalists working out in the field.

Why are we attacking our own kind?  These are wildlife officials that are looking out for the survival of a species.  They are proponents of the environment.  In the world we live in environmental protection comes with compromise.

There are a lot of hard decisions that have to be made on the fate of the environment.  But, if environmentalists fail to look at things from another’s perspective and realize at the end of the day we are all on the same side how are we going to succeed in saving the environment – we are going to be too busy fighting one another.

The environmental community is complex, and each person and organization is important in their own way, but if we continue to stand divided and use outlets to attack one another, failing to see something different than “our” way what will we have accomplished?