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Ignoring Nature No More

The Case for Compassionate Conservation

For far too long humans have been ignoring nature. As the most dominant, overproducing, overconsuming, big-brained, big-footed, arrogant, and invasive species ever known, we are wrecking the planet at an unprecedented rate. And while science is important to our understanding of the impact we have on our environment, it alone does not hold the answers to the current crisis, nor does it get people to act. In Ignoring Nature No More, Marc Bekoff and a host of renowned contributors argue that we need a new mind-set about nature, one that centers on empathy, compassion, and being proactive.
This collection of diverse essays is the first book devoted to compassionate conservation, a growing global movement that translates discussions and concerns about the well-being of individuals, species, populations, and ecosystems into action. Written by leading scholars in a host of disciplines, including biology, psychology, sociology, social work, economics, political science, and philosophy, as well as by locals doing fieldwork in their own countries, the essays combine the most creative aspects of the current science of animal conservation with analyses of important psychological and sociocultural issues that encourage or vex stewardship. The contributors tackle topics including the costs and benefits of conservation, behavioral biology, media coverage of animal welfare, conservation psychology, and scales of conservation from the local to the global. Taken together, the essays make a strong case for why we must replace our habits of domination and exploitation with compassionate conservation if we are to make the world a better place for nonhuman and human animals alike.

456 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2013

Biological Sciences: Behavioral Biology, Conservation, Ecology, Natural History

Philosophy: Ethics


“A selection of provocative but mostly accessible essays by scientists trying to answer such difficult questions as: When it comes to saving species, should we favor ‘charismatic’ animals like wolves over, say, ants?”

Boulder Daily Camera

“An amazing collection.”

Humane Advisor

“Rich in insight and detail.”

Alexandra Semyonova | Animal People

“A good choice for supplementary reading in animal welfare courses. . . . Recommended.”

M. LaBar, Southern Wesleyan University | Choice

“[W]ith this collection of thoughtful articles, as well as its inclusion of contact information for the authors, the book itself takes concrete steps toward bringing largely disconnected groups together to work on the complex problems of conservation.”

Ian Werkheiser, Michigan State University | Biological Conservation

Ignoring Nature No More builds momentum for fur­ther work to refine the question: As Bekoff phrased it, ‘How can differ­ences between people concerned with individual animal welfare and those considered with species be resolved?’”


“It may not be easy to be compassionate in this speedy, greed-ridden world, but maybe a person can be a bit kinder. Marc Bekoff and his fellow contributors make the case that an attitude of intelligent caring is both possible and essential if the world is to be saved.”

Michael Soulé, University of California, Santa Cruz

“Marc Bekoff has gathered here a remarkable field of thinkers to address humanity’s deepening estrangement from nature. Through the annals of history and science and literature, one message emerges clear: Our modern penchant for ignoring nature is not some harmless hiccup in an otherwise glorious human saga; it is a deadly sickness inflicting a world of impoverishment and misery for us and our fellow creatures. But in the case for compassion—for opening our hearts to the joys and sufferings of the world beyond our noses—we find a cure for our gravest threats, and at last, a reason for hope.”

Will Stolzenburg, author of Where the Wild Things Were and Rat Island

“I have mentored hundreds of idealistic young students over the years who have wanted to ‘save nature.’ They are shocked to discover that often what ‘saving’ means in practice is a single-minded devotion to killing and uprooting the unwanted, misplaced, ‘alien,’ or ‘exotic.’ Ignoring Nature No More is the sort of mash-up that has the potential to lead us away from this paradigm, towards treasuring life in all of its crazy, contradictory complexity.”

Dale Jamieson, New York University

“For years a small coterie of environmentalists, animal rights activists, ethicists, conservation biologists, philosophers, park management officials, and legislators have been grappling with the relationships between individuals and species; populations and habitats; bio-invasives and native and endemic species. What is the right thing to do with regard to listing threatened and endangered species? When is ecological legislation overreaching or, conversely, inadequate? At what point should humanity step in to resurrect past ecosystems, or prepare for climate-change-related future biomes? These and many other topics meant to help heal divisions between conservation biology and advocates of animal rights and animal welfare are forthrightly grappled with in Marc Bekoff’s important new, bold, eclectic, and forward-looking anthology, which scans the planet for flash points where animal protection and conservation biology are in direct correlation, conflict, ethically ambiguous point-counterpoint, or simply off the radar of most local, regional, and international discussion. This thoughtful book is a must-read for every student of zoology, ecology, environmental ethics, and conservation biology.”

Michael Charles Tobias, coauthor of God’s Country

Table of Contents

Benjamin B. Beck

Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why
It Shouldn’t Be All about Us


Part One    Ethics, Conservation, and Animal Protection
Trying to Make Difficult Decisions Easier

1   The Infirm Ethical Foundations of Conservation
John A. Vucetich and Michael P. Nelson

2   Venturing beyond the Tyranny of Small Differences
The Animal Protection Movement, Conservation, and Environmental Education
Paul Waldau

3   Ecocide and the Extinction of Animal Minds
Eileen Crist

4   Talking about Bushmeat
Dale Peterson

5   Conservation, Animal Rights, and Human Welfare
A Pragmatic View of the “Bushmeat Crisis”
Ben A. Minteer

Part 2    Conservation Behavior and “Enlightened Management”
Guidelines for Restoring, Recreating, and Redecorating Nature

6   Why We Really Don’t Care about the Evidence in Evidence-Based Decision Making in Conservation (and How to Change This)
Daniel T. Blumstein

7   Cautionary Wildlife Tales
Learning to Fail or Failing to Learn?
Joel Berger

8   Coyotes, Compassionate Conservation, and Coexistence
Why Ignoring Nature Means Ineffective “Predator Management”
Camilla H. Fox

9   Why Evolutionary Biology Is Important for Conservation
Toward Evolutionarily Sustainable Harvest Management
Marco Festa-Bianchet

10   Reintroductions to “Ratchet Up” Public Perceptions of Biodiversity
Reversing the Extinction of Experience through Animal Restorations
Philip J. Seddon and Yolanda van Heezik

11   Przewalski’s Horses and Red Wolves
Importance of Behavioral Research for Species Brought Back from the Brink of Extinction
Sarah R. B. King

12   Why Individuals Matter
Lessons in Animal Welfare and Conservation
Liv Baker

Part 3    Conservation Economics and Politics
It All Comes Down to Money

13   The Imperative of Steady State Economics for Wild Animal Welfare
Brian Czech

14   Conservation, Biodiversity, and Tourism in New Zealand
Engaging with the Conservation Economy
Eric J. Shelton

Part Four    Human Dimensions of Social Justice, Empathy, and Compassion for Animals and Other Nature

15   Anthropological Perspectives on Ignoring Nature
Barbara J. King

16   Nature and Animals in Human Social Interactions
Fostering Environmental Identity
Susan Clayton

17   Conservation Social Work
The Interconnectedness of Biodiversity Health and Human Resilience
Philip Tedeschi, Sarah M. Bexell, and Jolie NeSmith

18   The War on Nature—Turning the Tide?
Lessons from Other Movements and Conservation History
David Johns

19   Consuming Nature
The Cultural Politics of Animals and the Environment in the Mass Media
Carrie Packwood Freeman and Jason Leigh Jarvis

20   Children, Animals, and Social Neuroscience
Empathy, Conservation Education, and Activism
Olin E. “Gene” Myers Jr.

Part 5    Culture, Religion, and Spirituality
Using Empathy and Compassion to Develop a Unified Global Movement to Protect Animals and Their Homes

21   Compassionate Conservation
A Paradigm Shift for Wildlife Management in Australasia
Daniel Ramp, Dror Ben-Ami, Keely Boom, and David B. Croft

22   China’s Wildlife Crisis
Cultural Tradition or Politics of Development
Peter J. Li

23   A Triangular Playing Field
The Social, Economic, and Ethical Context of Conserving India’s Natural Heritage
Vivek Menon

24   Conservation and Its Challenges in Kenya
Josphat Ngonyo and Mariam Wanjala

25   Is Green Religion an Oxymoron?
Biocultural Evolution and Earthly Spirituality
Bron Taylor

26   Avatar
The Search for Biosynergy and Compassion
Anthony L. Rose and A. Gabriela Rose

Some Closing Words
Moving Ahead with Heart, Peace, and Compassion
Marc Bekoff

About the Contributors
Contributors’ Contact Information

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