Over the past couple of weeks, I have tried to make what is essentially a straightforward case that environmentalism at its core is about respecting life and that separating this from our behavior towards individual living beings doesn’t make much sense.

Since many environmentalists reject this notion and insist that environmentalism only includes preserving biodiversity and promoting resource sustainability, this suggests that one of the defining elements of environmentalism no longer holds: an opposition to whaling.

In fact, environmentalism that only concerns itself with total populations of animals should offer no opposition to the hunting of dolphins, many species of sea turtles, elephants, rhinos, lions, tigers, bears, gorillas, monkeys, and most of the other megafauna that in many ways have been the most potent symbols of environmentalism; as long as these species can be sustainably managed, killing them is perfectly acceptable. (In fact, according to some of those on this blog, we should actively support efforts to charge people money for the “privilege” of killing advanced animals and use that revenue for other conservation purposes.)

So are those who argue for the minimalist view of environmentalism willing to go on record in support of whaling and the killing of other advanced mammals? I would also like to know whether the major environmental organizations are willing to come out and support this as well, because we can’t have it both ways: denying an explicit role for animal welfare in the environmental movement while presenting an image to the public that we actually oppose the killing of advanced mammals.

Or could it be that this grey area benefits the environmental movement because it tugs on heartstrings and gets the donations flowing, even though it really isn’t consistent with what many believe is the proper scope of environmentalism?