The protection of natural resources results from rational hindsights. But which resources are indispensable? Coal, oil, or uranium? Presently, the preferences are being decided based on nonscientific criteria. The goals of natural and environmental conservation are not scientifically justifiable. They are being formulated according to ideological approaches. Politicians and decision-makers make use of economists and technicians without scientific fact repertoires for argumentation and implementation.

A concrete example (AWH, 1989) serves to illustrate the point: they argued in support of an expansion of the Cologne-Bonn airport citing a lack of capacity, related security problems, economic requirements, and provision of work. Nature conservationists protested vehemently claiming that the new take-off and landing runways would destroy the habitats of "Red List Species" (endangered flora and fauna) or would cause the disappearance of rare vegetation areas. Furthermore, the increased air traffic would increase the environmental damage. However, many of them did not express an understanding for the concern to protect nature. Some were attracted by the lure of new jobs. But it is basically accepted that in nature, creation and destruction are one-time events. After all, the dinosaurs went extinct.

What stirs the emotions here is not justified by the facts. There are basic differences between natural extinctions and those caused by human activities. The contrary position is equally weak: botanists or ornithologists, apart from citing the rareness of a species or biome, have no basis for species conservation. At least this controversy helped to hinder some contradictions and spurious arguments from entering the discourse. Hence, biologists and conservationists have abandoned the formerly popular but groundless difference between "useful" and "harmful."

The modern study of ecology focusing on the interdependence between organisms and the environment - justified by method as in other sciences - restricts itself to trying to rationally and objectively describe the world and its functional connections. Though this increases our knowledge, it does not relieve our conscience.

Guide to Alternative Fuels

Guide to Alternative Fuels

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