Why should we start a conservation project? Who are we starting it for? Is it necessary?
These are the questions we ask ourselves when we have an idea and want to ‘change the world’ only to forget we need to start with ourselves first. Conservation is a tricky affair, according to me. There is plenty of conservation controversies, not just in Kenya but globally. As we claim to be ‘stewards’ of the environment, all we do is build upon unnecessary issues forgetting that human beings are part of conservation, forgetting that we depend on the planet and not the other way round. We have brought in politics within it and this does not yield results. We use other people or communities to get what we need from the environment without a clear sense of the ill will we place on them.
Anyone involved in the science of plants and animals may truly understand why we depend on the planet and how we are wholly a part of it. However, the challenge always comes when they have to explain to the larger percent of the human race why the extinction of a species will be catastrophic to the planet. It becomes a not so easy task to explain to economists why a road cannot pass through a specific area or that the building will tamper with the hydrological cycle of the area.
Environment activists have a tough time explaining global warming to non-believers of the said warming of the earth. It has become a mocked agenda used by politicians all across the world who would rather please their own interests and forget the will of the people. Maybe a time will come when we get a clear understanding among everyone, but before then, what can we do to ensure that we are not anti-development rather pro-green development? That we are not environmental extremists, rather, we have a message to spread that environmental destruction will affect every individual socially, culturally, physically and of more importance to many, economically.
Mother Teresa once narrated “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” As people concerned about the planet, we can take from her words and consider the state at which we propagate environmental issues. Yes, poaching is a fact. Creating awareness of it is important. However, the awareness should be geared towards what is being done, what can be done and seek to unearth the truth, the lies and the half-truths in everything.
Speaking as a young person in conservation, we should seek more of the why and not the what or who. The why determines the what and who. It also offers a deeper understanding of any cause we choose to start or support. It offers a clear view and a starting point to see things the way it is in the current state, accept the situation with the view of wanting to do things differently and definitely better. But that can only be done when we figure out the why.
Why do you want to conserve the environment? Is it just because you think everyone should be bothered? Is it because you know and understand the facts and think everyone should be aware of the role the environment plays and what we can all do? Is it because there is no planet B? Find your why – to why you do what you do. Then go forth and conquer. Do not forget to start now.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”