From the NYT today (Kristof):
Yet the environmental movement is wrong to emphasize preservation for the sake of the wolves and the moose alone. We should preserve wilderness for our sake – to remind us of our scale on this planet, to humble us, to soothe us. Nothing so civilizes humans as the wild.
This has to be the environmental theory of a new progressive ideology. While E. O. Wilson and others have shown the delicate web woven by evolution and how we depend on other species for the biosphere we live in, this will never come to pass unless people understand that it is as much for our sake as for the sake of the owls, the whales, or the wolves that we are preserving the Earth. Man may not be the measure of all things, but for most voters that is their measure.
We need these species and they need their habitat; it’s tantamount to farmland. Without it, the web of life cannot persist, and we will not be able to grow food. It’s really that simple.
Of course environmentalism is not ab ovo a progressive or left-wing movement. It requries the consolidation of property and the limiting of resources, especially for the working class. Of course, in the last 40 years, environmentalism has replaced labor as perhaps the most identifiable lefty proposition. That has more to do with the who and not the how or the why. So, in some sense, it’s difficult to work out a theory that doesn’t undo or limit the basis of underclass prosperity.
The place to start, however, is to figure out, like the quote above, how to relate it to the benefit of man, and not man versus wolf.