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Let us look at a case in point.
In August a new report was released stating that the worlds’ smallest cetacean (a group that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises), the vaquita, was down to just 97 animals and would likely to go extinct in the next four years. Crucially, all the necessary laws are in place; the solution is better enforcement and retraining of fishermen. And all this needs is money. And probably less than a movie star can make on a single movie.On an environmental scale this is both tragic and a surprisingly easy fix.But, while a reasonable number of news agencies have covered the story, and continue to do so, the level of public outrage since that time can be best described as non-existent...
Increasingly, dealing with the whacktivists on “your” side is almost as important as dealing with those on the other side of a conservation issue.
Whacktivists make issues more polarized, putting off potential allies, reducing the credibility of conservation movements and undermining outreach efforts. Opponents to your issue will quickly point to the most extreme whacktivists and highlight them, saying “look at who our opponents are – crazy, illogical extremists” and try to paint all those that oppose them with the same brush.
Why are there so many whacktivists?
Perhaps it’s because of the idea – exacerbated by social media and the internet – that everyone’s opinion is valid and that you have a right to say whatever you want (even if threatening and unfactual). Couple that with the greater ease with which you can do this in today’s social media age. Moreover, you can find any opinion online to back up your personal beliefs or prejudices, and the public has an increasing inability to discern “opinion” from “facts”.