If tradition means anything, this will be the last post of the year. But I am in a Sociology class that is so big and boring that I can see myself writing every week, like I’m doing now.
So about a year ago there was a minor upheaval about a biologist telling conservationists to give up on attempting to save the pandas. Pretty much his argument was that the immense difficulty and expense within the conservation efforts are futile and would be better spend on other species. The anger that arose revolved largely around pandas being so “cute” and “lovable,” that they have a cultural and humanistic impact on our world, more so than for example insects, rodents, etc. He was being pragmatic, by criticizing public sentiments for placing value based upon abstract concepts rather than their importance to an ecosystem.
For me, I was wondering what the point of conservation was at all. There are many cases where the abuse by human populations has clear effects on the ecosystem and could lead to massive problems. Things like overhunting/fishing, deforestation, mining, drilling for oil, etc. Those are clearly human problems that need to be stopped in order to preserve our resources, but that’s more for our benefit than for the sake of the animals in and of themselves. I wonder whether we should be going any further. Species have been faced with extinction for the entirety of their short-lived existence. Even before humans were around species became extinct with regularity, and people forget that unless something changes we will as well. There comes a point where natural selection has to come into play to ensure the strength of the Earthlings of the future. If pandas aren’t able to compete and are bound for extinction than we would be remiss to devote critical resources to prevent it. The priority of the human race should be the welfare of the human race; every dollar spent by organizations such as PETA could be better spent in Haiti.
Why am I saying this, when it seems ultraconservative when I’m clearly not? Watch Home the depressing brother to Planet Earth. The world is changing in ways that we don’t even realize. Natural landmarks won’t exist with mountains getting shorter every year and seas drying up. The world’s history has been marked by the rise and fall of its mountains. When Everest becomes a hill there’ll be another Everest somewhere else, the world is constantly changing. I guess we don’t need to learn how to embrace change since realistically we won’t see much of them for a few decades in some extreme cases, and this is a language of centuries rather than years, but maybe we need to learn to let go of the inherency of the Earth. I’m not saying we can pollute all we want and completely disregard our impact on the ecosystem, but whether we like it or not the world is in constant motion, and maybe its time we let the pandas rest in our memories rather than in a pen forced to mate. Brad Pitt said that the God’s envy our mortality, that our flashes of existence are ultimately more beautiful in its brevity. Unless the Buggers attack and we acquire their advanced technology and harness the speed of light we’re not going to last forever. We don’t have an ansible, we have reality, and I’ll admit that saddens me more than pandas do. Space travel would be sweet.