Ethics and Politics
UserpicBye Bye Bluefin

There's been some very disappointing news from the CITES (Commission on International Traffic in Endangered Species) meeting in Doha. A proposal to ban trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna has been rejected in the face of strong lobbying from Japan and Canada, among others. It's not difficult to work out what happened: money. Atlantic bluefin is a mainstay in sushi, and far too lucrative to ban - even though its numbers have declined 85% since industrial fishing began. Another twenty years and it's probably curtains for the Atlantic bluefin.

Environmental problems are sometimes portrayed as stemming from human irrationality. But this sort of case is revealing of what is really going on. Fundamentally, there is no such thing as humanity. Instead, there are just various interested parties. Some of those parties have already been born, others have not. Some of those parties (Japan, Canada, France, Spain, Italy, among others) have large tuna fleets and will not support a ban; others have no such fleets and will. It's all perfectly rational. It would be irrational only if the people making the decisions today are the same ones to suffer later. But, of course, they're not. It is not irrationality that drives human devastation of the environment. It is selfishness - the selfishness of those who have already been born to those who have not. And that's not even taking the fish into account.

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