Date: 1/29/18 9:35 am
From: O Connell, Tim <tim.oconnell...>
Subject: Re: Interior cancels decades-old protections for migratory birds
Thanks, Dennis. Great points. Here are some $0.02 thoughts of agreement from a Christian-raised atheist:

On Jan 28, 2018, at 10:31 AM, Dennis Porebski <dennis.porebski...><mailto:<dennis.porebski...>> wrote:

. . .I believe there is a great deal of common ground with those of a secular mindset, particularly regarding the value and respect that should be placed upon the natural world,
Absolutely! There is plenty of room for common ground on environmental matters. I suppose it might always be an uphill climb to get folks who lend credence to the Book of Genesis to care much about protecting snakes, but everything God made was “good” in his eyes. If God declares something good, then I would expect believers to be concerned about the wise stewardship of that thing. Adam is given “dominion” over the natural world according to some translations, but he certainly wasn’t expected to drive any of God’s plants or animals to extinction.

. . . I have an appreciation for creatures made by the Creator. However, I do believe that some are more valuable than others, particularly humankind
That’s understandable. Even though from my perspective our species has become a pestilence upon the natural world, I certainly am concerned about the health and welfare of all people. For example, my most grave concern about anthropogenic global warming is human suffering from catastrophic refugee crises, spurred by unprecedented droughts, coastal sea level rise, etc. Environmental damage to people is a huge and horrible problem, and it is of course “the least of these” who bear the brunt of contaminated drinking water, air quality so bad that it triggers fatal asthma attacks, etc. If enforcing the unintentional take clause of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was causing human suffering like that, I’d be for amending it, too.

We’ve been taught a false narrative, though: We don’t have to choose between “the environment” and “people”. Environmental protections and advances usually help people (including creating jobs), but some people (e.g., “shareholders”) don’t necessarily recognize this.

To the contrary, it is an imperative and command, found within the pages of Scripture, to care for all of the Creation in a responsible, ethical and reverential manner.
Right on! I developed my passion for conservation in my religious-inspired youth, and this was why.

I realize that my tone is somewhat muted in comparison to environmentalists who see the world differently than I as a result of a secular foundation to their views. How to bridge this gap, I must confess, eludes me.
I find your tone vibrant, crisp, and full of color! While there are extremist and even militant “environmentalists” who will engage in vigilante-ism to advance their cause, their number is much smaller than their headlines might suggest. The great majority of us active in conservation - regardless of religious background - are like you: We feel a duty to be good stewards of the natural world, but we recognize that our country cannot be one giant national park. The more we can recognize across political divides the common ground that we already share on environmental issues, the more success we’ll have in leaving a world to the next generation that is capable of supporting the birds and the people that inhabit it.
~tim o'connell
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