Is conservation a luxury?

During our discussion, I heard people stake out two positions: 1) Conservation is a luxury that poor people just can't afford, and 2) no community can afford not to practice conservation. It seems to me that both positions are useful mostly as null hypotheses. That is, they're designed to be rejected. They're just a starting point for investigating how the tension between present and future needs plays out in a particular place and time.

Or just not being able to waste conspicuously?

I would agree that 1) is a null hypothesis. Poor people by many criteria may indeed be more conservationist, depending on how that term is defined, than the rich who for the most part participate in conspicuous consumption. Notwithstanding those silent millionaires who exist unknown as our neighbor who still wears the thread bear shirt. But I am not sure that 2) IS a null hypothesis, unless we have in mind a refugee camp in Pakistan or some other place that has been horribly disrupted by war or natural disaster. But in such cases I would question whether there is still a community.