In my talk (shortened at the last minute to 20 minutes, even though I had been told for weeks I'd have 35 minutes or so) I raised several sensitive issues: corruption and palm oil plantations, useless, cruel and biodiversity-harming medicines, especially of body parts, and population pressure, development and biodiversity. (Human population pressure in Africa has recently been recognised as an important contributor to the survival of elephants, by Erik Solheim, director of the United Nations Environment Programme).
A significant loss of species, not just charismatic megafauna such as rhinoceroses and bears "milked" for their bile, but lesser known creatures such as pangolins (scaly ant-eater) occurs because of unproven and implausible beliefs in the medicinal powers of their body parts (pangolin scales, rhino horns). Raising that issue may offend the Chinese (especially) .. but surely we should try.
|A baby Sunda Pangolin|
(Actually I lacked the courage to be quite so blunt).
Given the invisible cage that operates even in supposed democracies the future does look bleak. Solutions do exist, but there is a very long way to go.
I think few people think politically in the way I do; the people in their "invisible cages" do not hate biodiversity, but are not fully conscious of what is going on. If the people at the top of these human pyramids genuinely wanted to protect biodiversity then the rank and file would probably, in general, act in ways that genuinely have that effect. But I think most people at the top see biodiversity as an abstract property which they can continue to degrade. They undoubtedly have access to their own green space.As a long as a few orangutan survive in zoos (or maybe Brunei) palmoil etc should be maximised. Maybe the officially sanctioned biodiversity movements have a tiny protective effect; I don't like to be so cynical .. but, then, think of West Papua; it is being continually transformed in the name of material consumption and political power for a few. The biodiversity of West Papua must be declining every day.
See also Tibet, China, protest immolation and social medicine; and Tibetan protest self-immolation: ecology, health and politics