Human Selfishness

Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.

June 11, 2022


To the Editor:

I feel as if I were born into the wrong species.

I have been doing habitat restoration - removing invasive non-native plants from our parks in order to restore habitat for our native wildlife. These plants imported deliberately or by accident from foreign countries have no natural "enemies" here - nothing to keep them from spreading and thereby destroying our native habitat. Some examples are French broom, Italian thistle, and poison hemlock (which is the plant that killed Socrates). When I work near a trail, I see dozens of people hiking by, but although many thank me for what I'm doing, not one of them offers to help, even though I remind them that habitat restoration is also exercise. Apparently, people think that hiking is "fun", but habitat restoration is "work", and therefore not fun. If I remind them that they use the trails for free, and so should help maintain them, they often feel guilty and agree, but never actually do it.

The Sierra Club exhibits the same attitude. They love hiking or mountain biking in nature, but never participate in habitat restoration, and frequently vote to support the building of new trails and parking lots, which destroys the habitat of the wildlife that they claim to care about. Niles Canyon (near Fremont, CA) is a good example. There are plans to bulldoze a 14-foot-wide road (euphemistically called a "trail") right through its riparian habitat! When I suggested that they read a textbook on conservation biology - the science behind conservation - they refuse!

Humans are 100% dependent on the existence and welfare of other species. So why don't they work to protect them???

Mike Vandeman, Ph.D.