It's the third annual World Rhino Day--time to celebrate these magnificent animals and consider what a poorer world it would be without them. Dedicated conservationists across the globe are banding together to combat the evil poaching cabals that threaten to hurl the last remnants of the great Pleistocene megafauna into the abyss of extinction. No way around it: this the greatest poaching epidemic in history. Take a stand, get involved, donate what you can and leave an Earth in which we might still experience the sublime awe that these beings represent.
Too often when weighing the economic or social costs of preserving dwindling species and their habitats we tend to justify these expenditures in purely selfish terms, grasping for potential medical, monetary or technological benefits that might accrue to us if we choose to allow some species or other to go on living. As conservation writer Richard Conniff succinctly points out in a recent post to the New York Times, the sheer beauty, terror and wonder of the natural world has value in and of itself, and swaddling the real need for conservation in the dreary language of cost/benefit only degrades efforts at environmental preservation by sullying the empiric right of other animals to simply survive the Anthropocene.
For my first entry in Under the Sun I'm very pleased to announce that I'll be headed to my favorite town of New Orleans in a couple of days to attend the annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists. A much-appreciated Rosen Fellowship will help with travel expenses, and I intend to come back with a ton of new contacts, colleagues and story ideas. Hot damn!
William H. Funk
I'm a freelance writer focusing on natural history, conservation, and environmental law, policy and politics.