Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Man, what a stupid species

Toronto Sun - Friday, January 2, 2009


Human death is tragic, but the glaring reality is there are plenty of us on the planet. So many, in fact, that we're fighting over the few remaining open spaces, and we're the biggest threat to most other species, and indeed the planet itself.

Disease, wars, natural disasters and stupidity have killed millions of humans, often tragically, but can any of it even compare to the extinction of a species?

In Canada, for example, we've ridded the place of the sea mink, the Dawson caribou, the passenger pigeon, various kinds of wolves, a variety of fish, and a smattering of other creatures big and small.

Many species have been eradicated due to human hunting, for food or simply for sport, or because we seem to need more space to live than any other creature and are unwilling to share it or use it responsibly.

And we're not done yet.

Recently, a group of scientists known as the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada added a variety of species to the growing list of animals and plants in this country that are threatened or endangered. Among them: The snapping turtle, which suffers the same problem as wolves and other animals -- people fear it.

Worldwide, even the cute ones, such as panda bears, are having trouble surviving in a world increasingly populated by humans. Some are simply in the way. Others are out of sight and out of mind, obscured not by our need for survival, but our need for, well, money.

All of them may be doomed by what we're doing to the planet itself. We're not just hunting these animals, chopping down the forests and paving the grasslands -- that's old-fashioned. We've adopted far more insidious methods: Poisoning the air and water.

We continue to try, usually with disastrous results, to manipulate nature. We're changing the climate.

And we may well yet just blow the place up; submit the planet to nuclear Armageddon, from which only a few species might be lucky enough to survive.

It's food for thought during a week of resolutions.

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