The terms “conservationism” and “environmentalism” are often used interchangeably, but experts like Nathan Edmondson in Park City, Utah, say they refer to two different approaches to the preservation of the natural world.
Conservationism and environmentalism are concerned with protecting the environment but differ in their philosophy and practice. Here are eight similarities and differences between conservationism and environmentalism.
The first difference between conservationism and environmentalism is in perceived definitions.
Nathan Edmondson says that, contradicting typical definitions, conservationism is more focused on the practical application of preserving resources, while environmentalism takes a broader view of the environment.
In practice environmentalism can be difficult to define. Environmentalism might be seen as a broad, ideological movement. Conservationism is a practice that can be organized with measurable effects and discernible priorities.
Environmentalists are perceived broadly as ideologues, while conservationists are seen as practical project-oriented practitioners. Additionally, environmentalism is understood by many to be a global, ideological movement – while conservation is a local effort.
Whether these perceptions pass technical muster is a separate question; the immediate concern is whether or not a macro, big picture approach or a more,issue-by-issue focus is likely to have more efficacy in the effort to protect wildlife from destructive pressures.
More important than the delineation of definitions is to measure the efficacy of approach. Both groups may debate between a hands-off approach (ex-nature) versus a management approach (humans as part of nature).
Both approaches dictate distinct actions. Conservationists may focus on protecting and preserving resources, while environmentalists may advocate for changes to policies or regulations to protect the environment. When in concert, environmentalism and conservationism can protect wildlife and natural places with a unity of purpose and action. Often, however, the philosophies can be at odds, with a strong debate between the two as to not only the greater benefit of a hands-on or hands-off approach, but the potential deleterious effects of the other.
Another difference between conservationism and environmentalism is the goal.
One might consider that conservationism aims to use natural resources wisely to preserve them for future generations. Environmentalism usually seeks to protect the environment from human interference or pollution.
The goals of these two philosophies are often intertwined, and while both are presumably born of a mission to preserve natural resources and environments, a key idea remains at the heart of the debate, namely, what is the role of humans in the context of nature.
Nathan Edmondson says a fourth difference between these two philosophies is their view of humans. Conservationists generally believe humans are a part of nature and should live in harmony, even as custodians.
Environmentalists sometimes believe that humans are born of nature, but must exist with measured separation, not as stewards of nature as much as desirous to prevent human impact on nature. Environmentalists often see humans as being separate from or damaging to the environment.
Conservationists thus may see certain human-animal interactions, like domestication of some animals or hunting as natural processes that keep nature in balance. Alternative views see any human-animal interaction as potentially deleterious.
A fifth difference is their view of nature. Conservationists may see nature is valuable in its own right – and extending to much of sustainable human activity. Environmentalists may instead prefer to portray nature as a distinct set of ecosystems existing outside the realm of human behavior and development.
Nature is a complex ecosystem that needs to be respected and protected, regardless of its value to humans.
6. Use of Resources
A sixth difference between these two philosophies is their view of the use of resources. Conservationists generally believe that natural resources should be used wisely, while environmentalists often believe that natural resources should not be used at all or only sustainably.
7. Role of Government
A seventh difference between these two philosophies is their view of the role of government. Conservationists typically believe that the government has a role in regulating the use of natural resources. In contrast, environmentalists often think that the government is responsible for protecting the environment from human interference or pollution.
The absolute difference between these two philosophies is their scope. Conservationism typically focuses on preserving and protecting particular resources, while environmentalism takes a broader view of the environment as a whole.
Overall, Nathan Edmondson says conservationism and environmentalism are distinct philosophies with different approaches to preserving and protecting the environment.
While they share some similarities, some key differences set them apart. Conservationism focuses on the practical application of conserving resources, while environmentalism takes a broader view of the environment. Conservationists typically take a more hands-off approach to nature, while environmentalists may advocate for changes to policies or regulations to protect it.
How Can We Bridge The Gap?
Despite their differences, conservationism and environmentalism share the same goal of preserving the environment for future generations. We can bridge the gap between these two philosophies by focusing on activities supporting conservationism and environmentalism, such as recycling or using renewable energy. Doing so can ensure a better future for our planet and the people who will one day inhabit it.
What If We Do Nothing?
If we do nothing to bridge the gap between conservationism and environmentalism, human activities will continue to hurt our planet. This could lead to habitat destruction, climate change, species extinction, and other severe consequences for nature and humanity. Therefore, we must reconcile these two philosophies to protect our planet.
In conclusion, conservationism and environmentalism are two different philosophies that have the same goal of preserving the environment for future generations. We must bridge the gap between these two philosophies by focusing on activities supporting conservationism and environmentalism to achieve this goal. If we do nothing, the consequences will be dire and irreversible. Therefore, we must reconcile these two philosophies to protect our planet.
In conclusion, conservationism and environmentalism have several critical differences, including their definition, approach, goal, view of humans, view of nature, use of resources, and role of government. However, conservationism and environmentalism share the common goal of protecting the environment. Ultimately, which philosophy you subscribe to depends on your beliefs about humanity’s relationship to nature and how best to preserve our planet for future generations.