What is the point of conservation?

On how my class answered this question – some answers that reveal our values and motivations.

Yesterday in a lecture we were asked, “What is the point of conservation? In other words, why do you do it?” My first reaction to this was:

  • To keep the world a place worth living in.

Some other responses from my class:

  • For our grandchildren – so they will get to experience the same wonderful species, places, nature, etc that we have. This included a sense of responsibility to future generations.
  • Out of selfishness – call it responsibility to the future, but I know that I just want to be able to keep seeing these beautiful and inspiring things and I want my grandchildren to see them because I care.
  • An instinctual feeling that we depend on nature – to preserve this harmony
  • Religious reasons (Christian)
  • To keep the possibilities open for a sense of wonder
  • To protect our identity as humans – something that is inherently linked to our experiences in nature on both individual and cultural levels.

Our director pointed out that none of us talked about the usefulness of nature. I think that was mainly because the emphasis of the lecture on culture put us in that frame of mind, but it may equally have been because our particular motivations stem from the intrinsic value we give nature rather than rational utilitarian values. On the other hand, my answer implies the desire to save both the beauty and usefulness of nature to our lives.

The world shall not perish for lack of wonders, but for lack wonder.”

– JBS Haldane