Emma Marris

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Modern Zoos Are Not Worth the Moral Cost

After being captives of the pandemic for more than a year, we have begun experiencing the pleasures of simple outings: dining al fresco, shopping with a friend, taking a stroll through the zoo. As we snap a selfie by the sea lions for the first time in so long, it seems worth asking, after our collective ordeal, whether our pleasure in seeing wild animals up close is worth the price of their captivity.

Throughout history, men have accumulated large and fierce animals to advertise their might and prestige. Power-mad men from Henry III to Saddam Hussein’s son Uday to the drug kingpin Pablo Escobar to Charlemagne all tried to underscore their strength by keeping terrifying beasts captive.…  Seguir leyendo »

A schism has recently divided those who love nature.

“New conservationists” have been shaking up the field, proposing new approaches that break old taboos — moving species to new ranges in advance of climate change, intervening in designated wilderness areas, using nonnative species as functional stand-ins for those that have become extinct, and embracing novel ecosystems that spring up in humanized landscapes.

Some “old conservationists” have reacted angrily to this, preferring to keep the focus on protecting wilderness and performing classical restoration that keeps ecosystems as they were hundreds of years ago. Editorials, essays and books have been lobbed back and forth, feathers have been ruffled and conservation groups and government officials have felt pressure from both sides.…  Seguir leyendo »

Scientists interested in drawing attention to the human transformation of planet Earth have begun calling the current geological epoch the Anthropocene — the age of man. Naming an epoch is serious business — and in this case the new name is well deserved, given humanity’s enormous alteration of the Earth.

We have acidified the oceans and changed global climate with our use of fossil fuels. We have bent more than 75 percent of the ice-free land on Earth to our will. We have built so many dams that half of the world’s river flow is regulated, stored or impeded by human-made structures.…  Seguir leyendo »