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Capitalism vs Biophilia by Tait de St. Croix

Throughout the past few centuries human kind has created a way to utilize and dominate every part of this world. This can be seen in the way we have taken control of everything around us, from the trees we use to build, animals we use to eat, vegetables we use for food, plants we use for medicine, and so many other things. With what is on this earth, we have figured out a way to put utility into it and make it purposeful for ourselves.



Picture: Steve Charleson, Hesquiaht First Nation, Hooksum Outdoor School, British Columbia.


Wandering around the history rich town of Tofino, I found myself thinking more closely about what this really meant. I agree that the way in which we use what we can get our hands on is phenomenal. It cures diseases, it helps the starving, it grows small businesses, and many more things which are great for our people and the places in which we live. However, what is it doing for our environment? I believe in utilizing what we have in order to progress in life, but the means in which we do it is questionable.


Capitalism. Capitalism is the way we utilize things which aren’t always ours to take, and make an economic profit off of it, to better our situations. The way of life which we have created is based on capitalism, we feed into it by buying the cheaper food, shopping cheap online, wanting cheaper gas prices, and affordable housing. These things all come with a cost, nonetheless, the cost is not directly affecting our place in this world so why should we care?


We should care because it will, if it hasn’t already started affecting us. We owe our world a connection to what we take, and this is the missing link. We have become so good at world domination; but we are stuck without connecting to the closest thing we have to ourselves. Nature. This is what I’ve been pondering since spending time getting to know the locals of Tofino. The individuals we met, although disagreeing on certain issues, all agreed on one thing. They agreed that we should be making moves to preserve the wild life, and the environment in any way that we can.


Biophilia is defined as, “a hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature.” Throughout my observations in Tofino, the suggestion of connecting to nature in order to fix environmental issues that we have, arose many different times. Environmental activists, municipal leaders, business owners, and two different Indigenous groups all confirmed that having a connection to forms of life in nature should be necessary in everything which we do.


This causes me to ask, what is the purpose of dominating these environments? Is it for profit or necessity? I believe these two answers to be vastly different, and the specific intent behind using our environment for our benefit causes many different outcomes. For example, farming salmon in fresh water can build a large profit, sending good quality Atlantic Salmon all over the country for consumers. The outcome of profit being the intention, causes for issues in the fresh water for the wild salmon, due to disease outbreaks, eco-system changes, effects on the life-cycle of the wild salmon, and many more effects. Another example is what Steve does (pictured above), fishing and catching the five salmon that his family needs to consume for the week, which could be seen as having an intent of necessity, also has its own effects. The effects of fishing salmon for necessity are that you leave the species in abundance, you know where the fish is coming from, and are allowing for the natural life cycle of the fish to remain intact.


These two examples are what I am interested in looking into further throughout this research. From field observations, and stake holder interviews, as well as critical self-reflection I have been brought to this idea of Biophilia. Having an innate connection to the nature around us, and using this connection to act ethically with the environment we are given seems like a natural, and essential thing to consider. It hit me while meeting with Friends of Clayoquot Sound. Their representative Jeh, answered my question: “What does your organization tell people who do not want to support farmed fish, cannot go out and catch salmon every week, and want to still consume salmon do in order to purchase some?” To which he answered, “You should make a good relationship to your local butcher, and find out where the fish is from. If you don’t know where your food is from anyways, should you be eating it at all?” This specific remark made me think, and looking back on it now I agree with him. I don’t want to consume product which I don’t have a natural connection too, let alone don’t know where it is from.


The opinions of the different stake holders we met with, although agreeing that we should preserve the environment around us, they didn’t all agree on the question I am asking today. This question being, should we fish salmon for profit or necessity? This is a highly debated question, especially in the town of Tofino BC, and after speaking with all of these individuals I have made up my mind on the topic. I support fishing, but not for selfish profit, but to promote abundance in the species to preserve the natural process of not only their ecosystem, but ours as well.


Where do you stand?


Bibliography:


“Biophilia.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,

www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/biophilia.

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Philosophy Department

University of Guelph

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