Should wilderness contain humans?
Mathew Parris in The Times this morning laments the creation of human deserts, wild spaces where there are no humans.
In the beginning, man is expelled from the Garden of Eden. In the end, perhaps, we shall leave it of our own accord, closing the gate behind us.
Disconnection from the wild and "the natural" is indeed a problem, but there is, I'd suggest, an equally powerful argument for leaving parts of the Earth alone. The human species has managed to invade, to change, and often to damage, every aspect of the world. Giving nature, some rest, some space, allowing for biological diversity by the exclusion of us, will help to ensure the differing ecosystems that might just save life on earth.
(I've always thought there's something powerful about the line in one of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books that has a planet expel all of its "telephone sanitisers", advertising executives and similar "useless" individuals. And then the humans are wiped out by a disease spread through dirty telephones ... In a world full of telephones (as a "human" world must be today) that disease is a hideous danger.)
But good on the "bedroom blogger", as the media has inevitably dubbed the 16-year-old who has organised a protest in Oxford in favour of animal experimentation. Having done some animal experiments in my agricultural science days (although luckily in ours the goat kids had a very pleasant life), I've seen some animal experiments that should never have been allowed. (A lively, intelligent, interested goat kid, in a metabolism cage 24 hours a day, like a battery hen, is not a pleasant sight.)
But there are some experiments that have to be done on animals - that can save large numbers of human lives (and often other animal lives too). Provided experiments are tightly supervised, the best possible welfare conditions are maintained, and the tests have a clear objective, they have to go on. And those who terrorise anyone associated with them - down to the cleaners and builders - have to be stopped.