(Translations: Beatriz Padilla)

Vance Martin

In haste,
1 Psychological -- People are still afraid of the wild, from a deep, primitive reaction to how we used to be…at its “mercy”
2 Material -- People are greedy, and nature is wealth
3 Personal – we are “too clever”…think we are smarter than nature
4 Self-centered---  we only think of what we need, not where it comes from
The most important thing is to learn why we destroy, because then we are starting to learn how to change…simple protection is only temporary… So this is one of the main things the WWC is about, ie, in addition to all the policy and good science and business, we try to get to the root of the issue by making conservation and wild nature a personal story, a cultural experience, so it can be translated into effective solutions that people WANT to do.
And more…

Jürgen Hoth

It is an important question. It seems to me that there are several layers of motives:

1. Decision-makers’ lack of appreciation and sensitivity when promoting land-use changes. A classic: in the 70’s, politicians used to call forests "idle lands" and in a swift swing of the pen great extensions of wilderness were assigned as places for new population centres and farmlands. Today, too many people still consider wild areas as "no man’s land" and they joyously seek to use them as remedies for unresolved problems generated elsewhere.

2. The greater affluence of our society and the consumer’s lack of awareness about local and global implications of purchasing more and/or cheaper.

3. Lack of humbleness of decision-makers, technicians, scientists, environmentalists, etc. in their inability to listen and learn form local inhabitants of wild areas. And not only for listening but also for empowering them so that they may have access to the elements that will allow them to protect and even transform the places they inhabit, in such a way that makes sense to all, including nature. Ixtlan (de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico), is an example that “yes it can be done".

4. At some point in time the human system will have to understand that a line must be drawn on the ground and say, from her to yonder, even if painted green (ecological houses, organic coffee, fair trade, etc.), no changes will be allowed that may interfere with, for example, the jaguar’s habitat or other species that require functional wilderness.

Fifth, I would say that “metalizing” the value of nature is a promising step. In a society where the economic value is increasingly important, recognizing the economic value of environmental goods and services, for their sheer existence as well as for the damage that may be brought unto them, can prompt the world’s society, increasingly urban and increasingly detached from nature, to team up with rural society in caring for what is left.

These are some thoughts.  Before clicking on “send”, I just wish to add that it seems to me that the various international agreements since 1972 have served a lot, but not enough unless society makes them theirs and does her share at the personal and collective levels.

Karl Wagner

A good question. The answer is a matrix of interacting layers which are:

1 Wrong economic theories and practices, implemented by wrong economic tools
2 Outdated belief system
3 Distorted underlying value system
4 Enormous power, both in our means to destroy (technology) and in the means special interests have to influence the layers above through manipulation, corruption, propaganda, mind control, lobbyism

I am not sure if I would call it “system's needs”. It is more the dynamics the system is caught up in.

Clearly behind it is an outdated economy, whose theories are at least 200 years old and come from a time when there were few humans, economic activity was small, technology modest and few people around. So the resource input was seen as free. The lack of properly accounting natural resources is a concrete driver of destruction.

We then started to measure human progress as the increase in sale and consumption of goods and services, the GDP, and not in the increase of well-being.

Then it is the economic worldview which has developed. The role of economy today is not to provide meaningful income and stability for a maximum of people it is short-term profit. So there are two drivers:
1 Short-term: all our main systems are geared to short-termism (capitalism, democracy)  and humans have become even more short-term oriented.
2 Materialism has replaced a much more complex value system and money has become the essence of matter. Financial profit has replaced growth in personality, wisdom, insight etc.

The transition into a different world is in full swing. Just look at the many initiatives that go into the right direction and notice how the world views of people you are familiar with are changing. It is a gigantic struggle between two giants: Business as usual which runs down the planet and the transition into a sustainable and more equitable world. The former is artificially maintained through all the money those who benefit from it can use to prevent the transition - but they are on a lost post.

Bittu Sahgal

From the Belly of the Beast

I am a part of nature, no better or worse than the termite, turtle or tiger. But I have become this planet's auto-immune disease. In other words, I am the enemy I seek to vanquish. I am undoubtedly an intelligent mind, but I am trapped in a disobedient carbon-fueled lifestyle. The monster is my false ambition, fed by my own insecurity and my inflated self-image, which leads me to forget that I am poorly equipped to survive without the living planet I have begun remorselessly to attack.

Leslie Pascoe:

Selfishness, a short-term vision, blindness, narcissism (not being able to see beyond one's self-reflection), lack of connection with nature and Mother Earth, overwhelming rationality and technology-oriented thinking, an over-emphasis on the left-hemisphere of the brain, an ensuing disconnection from feelings and emotions (specially universal love and compassion), a materialistic vision of reality that ignores and neglects spirituality, not being able to see wholeness, just seeing the individual trees sand not the forest as a whole, the belief that nature, wilderness is only material and not an energetic whole, not being able to see interconnectedness, that our energy field is interconnected with the planet's energy field, and ultimately the universe's.
Just a few ideas that came into my mind

Javier Rojas:

Nowadays we live very disconnected from the natural world. And this distance makes it very easy to bypass something as dramatic as overfishing, deforestation, open-pit mining, etc. These seem something so foreign to us, one of those problems we see on TV, and we stop at feeling sorry.  But truth is it does affect us. We live in a planet with finite resources where we cannot dream of having unlimited growth, because one of these days, there will simply be no more resources.

Alberto Ruz

Beyond the obvious, I believe that the two main reasons that account for why humans destroy wilderness (all of us, now and always) are:

Firstly, because of fear. We are descendents of proto-human ancestors that had to survive in the wild with VERY basic elements, without knowing fire, tools, weapons, and had therefore VERY FEW chances to defend themselves from the elements, animals, climate, drought, nights, frosts, etc, etc. We all store this memory in our DNA, and therefore each little conquest to strengthen our existence against everything wild, became - and still is – a victory AGAINST Nature, who thence has remained for thousands of our mortal enemy.

The later stage in our more “civilized” evolution, beginning to respect and adore Nature, making offerings and calling her Mother Earth, still holds a bit of that same experiential origin. We have to be on good terms with Nature because if she gets upset she will finish us off. Again, underlying fear: homos-her-offspring.

At a later stage we became invincible and moved on to subject, exploit and use Nature for our own convenience as antropos-stupidus, we became conquerors and declared her our enemy: "we fight against Natire." Hence we "advance" more and more, until we reduce her to "resources" as we do now. Use her, profit from heryou’re your COMFORT and WELL-BEING while she is reachable, no need to think about tomorrow because in any case she regenerates by herself.

At the next stage some of us realize that she does not threaten us, she is not our enemy, we owe our lives to her, we owe her offerings and gratitudes, we need her for survival, and if we do not care for her we are doomed. If we do not restore her, if we do not become one with her, we are nothing, and therefore we become homos-permaculturalis.

We use science, technology, not to continue exploiting her but to imitate and work with and not against her, to assure the survival of our species.

¿A future stage?

Arnold Ricalde

In México in 1972, the National Commission of Land-Clearing and Farming Promotion. This was active until 1983. Its goal was to disappear 15% of Mexico’s forests so as to create economically profitable lands through livestock and agriculture....

Wildlife understood as flora and fauna is considered an idle active by the economy’s traditional sectors. Wild animals and wild lands are considered idle because they do not generate an economic income for local inhabitants. Nevertheless, it is these idle lands that keep Natures equilibrium. Without forests floods increase and rain-patterns change.

We need wilderness to sustain environment al equilibrium on the Planet.

There are non logging-related products that can be used in these wild lands: Mushrooms, herbs, seeds, roots and fruits can be obtained from wild lands without damaging the ecosystem...

Is there a primal wound underlying it all?

Jürgen Hoth:

Interesting. How would a wound of ours (what type of wound?) as human beings feed a compulsion to destroy Mother Earth? This statement smells like a sort of vengeance of being expelled from paradise. Tricky stuff -even as a Christian precept. I would think it is far less sublime than that. You may want to elaborate further; as is I would not bet my 2 cents upon this thought.

Bittu Sahgal:

I have to agree with Jürgen. My sense is that we have essentially become ingrates... malcontents... No one and nothing 'harmed' or 'wounded' us... we just slowly turned rotten at the hands of those four horsemen of our Apocalypse... arrogance, avarice, ignorance and apathy.

Leslie Pascoe Chalke:

Archetypally there is a drive to slay the mother, which we see in many ancient myths (sometimes expressed as the drive to slay the dragon, and other combat mythologems). This drive to slay the mother, however, is a metaphor for the individual's drive toward separation, toward initiating our path towards independence and individuation. When metaphors are taken concretely, however, we fail to see the symbolism and act on the exact images the metaphor is using to convey an ulterior message. Archetypally, death is a symbol of transformation. The old must die for the new to be born, but it would be a grave mistake to take it literally as killing.

Unfortunately, we have an unfounded fantasy that we are superior to nature. A fantasy that has grown out of all magnitude with our over emphasis on reason, on rationality, on science, our prioritizing the left brain (rationality) over and above the right brain (emotions, the unconscious, dreams). Our attacking nature is the result of a decision taken by men of giving priority to the brain over the heart. Our attacking nature is an expression of our disconnection from our essence, from our spirituality, from our core. In order to avoid destruction, it is imperative that we change direction, inside and outside.