Darwin, Buddha, and conservation:
What can you do about biodiversity and conservation? I have found that working holidays with organisations such as the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, along with the usual, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle of everyday living are satisfying. I also try to make a basket of food which is 50% organic and endeavour to use Forest Stewardship Council certified wood and eco friendly paints for home improvement.
I have worked most years since 1991 on conservation programmes in England and around the world.
In England the work has been usually week long or occasionally weekends at 21 sites including South Uist, Northern Ireland, three times in Cornwall, South Wales, near Slough, Bolton, Formby, Leicestershire etc. These have involved water vole environment conservation, invasive rhododendron extraction, little tern island creation in old salt pans and Swallowtail Butterfly environment protection in Norfolk.
The lesson we can take from Darwin is that it is important to preserve the biodiversity of the planet in order to preserve the evidence for evolution and the amazing scientific discoveries which can be gained from examining nature in fields like medicine and genetics.
The lesson we can take from Buddha is that it is important to show compassion by preserving wilderness areas for nature and not to encroach on all the environments of any species. This is happening a lot where for instance changes in behaviour of animals are used as excuses to kill them all off when the behaviour change is actually the fault of man for giving the creatures no other place to go to survive except back on to land now occupied by humans
“Why is biodiversity so important?”, some people may ask, “after all there have been extinctions in the past. True as that is the difference now is that humans are in control of the extinction and life thereafter.
The world iterates towards biodiversity. when a mass extinction occurred some creatures survived and the process of evolution occurred again until all the niches into which creatures can squeeze themselves are occupied. Hence biodiversity is a perfect state. man is destroying biodiversity.
Mankind will almost certainly, if he and she continue to apply pressure to biodiversity, bring about a situation where most evolution is prevented. this would be the breeding ground for religious lies which would bring about darkness to the planet, perhaps for centuries, perhaps for millenia. Evolution occurs through mutation but if all life is farmed then the farmers will destroy mutations and regulate the environment. Thus the only environment will be the one the farmer dictates which will be perfect for his captive stock. Any mutations then can never be better adapted to the environment because the environment would not be changing. Some people mistakenly believe Darwinism is about survival of the fittest, it is not really. It is about survival of the best adapted to the conditions of the environment at any one time. Man with his desire to control is therefore a nightmare for nature because he wants to control all other life for his needs so will destroy that he cannot use and farm only that he can use, then to ensure his farm maximises production he will control the environment as much as possible to suit his stock thus, as described, preventing any evolution.
This then is a plea for the reader to support wilderness areas on the planet where animals can exist as they have adpated to exist and evolve at the slow pace most evolution moves at, (although of course at times such as when the asteroid hit earth there was no time for adaptation.
Biodiversity and Darwin
So the world iterates towards biodiversity. Everywhere there is aniche for life, eventually some creature will generally evolve which can fit in that niche. Often when one creature or plant evolves others evolve to consume it. This maximised biodiversity could be thought of as the earth’s perfected state, a self-Genesis by Gaia, an Eden by random mutation, not a God created state. There is something therefore repugnant about the consumer driven destruction of biodiversity. It seems there may be always be mosquitos carrying malaria, bacteria which are dangerous to us, rogue male mammals some people are unfortunate enough to stumble across, mad dogs, plagues of rats, viruses and a few snakes that do present a threat to us. Think of the world of consciousness as a world all creatures inhabit, (such as religions believing in reincarnation might support). Most creatures are driven by instincts and genetics but once free of those instincts and genetics, even the most difficult for humans to live with may be as gentle as any other, so the crocodile in death becomes a butterfly. The world of Buddha consciousness may be preaching survival of the gentlest nature in stark contrast to Darwinism. The point of Buddha then is that the interest in biodiversity, that a Darwinian viewpoint calls for, is not something to regard as observation of desirable states of mind when in pursuit of survival, (as opposed to, for instance, contentment of the predator after consumption of the prey), but rather observation of passions that are unnecessary for most of the time, (as the animals know) and which passions ultimately perish. (Note it is one of Buddha’s teachings that all things perish)
Biodiversity and Buddha
Looking at the fears I had as a child, ~(snakes under the bed etc.), it is easy to see how my mother and the church were able to play on those fears. The reality is that the vast majority of creatures, including snakes, present no threat to us, (nor most other creatures). Many hunt as our ancestors did and ahve evolved ways to achieve prey kill, (otherwise they would have died out - a basic principle of Darwinian thinking). however, their consciousness is rather to have sufficient to sustain their life, then live quietly and peacefully.
Living with people who live with wild creatures in their daily lives and having walked through forests by unarmed guides where creatures like tiger live, teaches one that religion when it paints itself as a sanctuary from the “vale of tears” that is life on earth, usually does it by allowing one to close out fears of the “other consciousnesses” and hope for something away from them all. herds of Wildebeest may know lions are out there but when one of the old or sick of their number has been taken out the peace of both the predator and the prey is restored. it is also difficult to believe the predators mean harm to the prey other than what evolution has equipped them to inflict in the struggle to survive.
Some fundamentalist Christians and some Muslims, obsessed with large families and ignoring the threat of population growth
may paint a picture in the minds of those they touch, (family and fellow worshippers), of a world which God has entitled them to destroy the biodiversity of because it is beyond redemption in their eyes. This is a sad state of mind they have entered. they really amplify the problems a few pest and aggressive species until they can destroy the richness of the earth which is before all our eyes. They will be happy when all is farmed, simulating what they believe to be the waiting heavenly table. (On that last point it is a conceit that there will be lamb in heaven since sheep evolved and may become extinct too, there dreams are really only of what they know. So who is to say they may not be better dreaming of Brontasaurus gristle as the supper in heaven.