Several days ago I received
some material from the Sierra Club reminding me to renew my
membership, which I had let lapse for a couple of years. What caught
my attention however was a short letter that was included in the
membership material. The letter read as follows:
Imagine that, little by
little, your home was taken away from you. The forests and mountains
where you once roamed freely disappeared, replaced by roads and
What if politicians in
suits, someplace far away, decided your fate … decided that you,
your family, your friends, and neighbors had become a nuisance—a
menace—to those who had invaded your home?
And so now, you must die.
Imagine these politicians
rallying for your slaughter … ignoring what science has told them,
encouraging citizens to hunt you down and kill you.
Imagine your family under
attack. Defenseless, with nowhere left to hide, you must dodge
bullets from the ground and sky, just to find food for yourself and
your young children.
Imagine that, in one of
these public hunts, you watched your offspring die.
Then you will know the
terror that wolves face every day … and why we so desperately need
After all, you and your
fellow humans are the only ones who can save us. Our fate is in your
So I hope you will answer
this cry for help. You are our only hope. And time is running out ….”
Murder for fun, profit and prestige
The late, great comedian
George Carlin once remarked that we humans can't destroy the Earth.
The planet will deal with us without difficulty. I remain optimistic
that after humankind vanishes (at least the current variety of Homo
sapiens), the remaining life on Earth, as science writer Michael
Tennesen says, “ will survive, adapt, diversify, and proliferate.”
I don't want to think that
the combination of our technology, slow evolutionary development and
general ignorance could actually turn our planet into an
uncompromising nightmare like that offered up by the novelist Cormac
McCarthy in his novel The Road.
Yet, regardless of whether
or not we humans do ourselves in sometime in the future, the mind
numbing misery we're inflicting on other species right now is
appalling. It is conceivable that up to 50 percent of plant and
animal species could have gone extinct by the end of the century.
Unlike other mass extinctions, the principal cause this time will
most likely be humankind. There's a reason that most scientists refer
to our current geologic age as Anthropocene.
Wide areas of Asia
currently, because of official corruption, greed, ignorance and even
what is casually called “cultural” cuisine, are destroying plant
and animal life across the planet at an astonishing rate. We humans
have become like the invasive plant kudzu on steroids.
While we collectively—with
some notable exceptions—have been killing and destroying most
everything around us for thousands of years, it was far less
noticeable before the industrial age and a global population under
two billion. But now, with a population of more than 7 billion humans
and increasing, we are destroying life on Earth on an industrial
scale, seemingly unaware of its consequences for us.
So what ought we to do? One
possibility certainly is that we may not be able to do anything in
time. Fields like neuroscience and behavioral genetics have provided
considerable insight in how humans think and process information and
why we often do what we do ... but, the “so what” question
however can't be tossed aside.
How do we confront, educate
and find the resources fast enough to turn the human death cult into
a manageable problem at the very least. Cowboy yahoos in the American
West, clueless Chinese bourgeoisie desperate for the “bling” of
ivory and other human predators are not going away anytime soon.
Maybe it does begins with
trying to understand what the wolf could be thinking as he stares at
his dead cub bleeding to death from the gunshot wound. Maybe we have
to find better ways to talk to narcissistic Homo sapiens. Anyway, I
renewed my membership in the Sierra Club. Giving up can't be an
For an unvarnished
assessment of wildlife destruction read The Politics of Extinction.
Getting angry is good but then come up with a plan. We need one right