Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mom, this hippopotamus followed me home, can I keep it?

From where I’m standing (hovering, actually), Planet Earth is being torn apart due to war, famine, disease, racial and religious infighting, and just plain stupidity. The population of your little ball of rock is straining at 6 billion and in ten-fifteen years, 10 billion of you fleshbags will be wandering around, sucking up every available resource in order to drive bigger cars, eat pre-packaged string cheese, and fornicate ad nauseum. Instead of banding your best and brightest together in a word-wide intellectual oligarchy, it seems that your insatiable drive for self-expression and meaningless individuality has fractured your world’s greatest thinkers into two distinct groups: Intelligent people who toil in laboratories attempting to translate the human genome in an effort to clone even more of you and Pseudo-intellectuals who make it their life’s goal to impress other pseudo-intellectuals with their increasingly ridiculous concepts, theories and proposals. The second group, while not without their charm, are by far the most dangerous, as they succeed in the brainwashing and manipulation of college students and other such malleable types. And you’ve had some winners in the past, let me tell you. I remember fondly such “thinkers” who proposed that:

Jesus was Black (Actually, Jesus is a short, olive skinned woman from the Myanmar Republic. She plays a mean banjo)

Shakespeare was gay (A little known fact is that Shakespeare didn’t have genitals at all, and sought sexual satisfaction through yodeling)

The temperature of the earth is slowly rising and will soon cause the destruction of every living thing on the planet (Just ask anyone from Winnipeg who has ever tried to start a Ford Taurus at 7 AM without a block heater if the temperature is rising)

Drinking milk is animal cruelty (Drinking milk is just disgusting, unless you happen to be a calf)

Currently, the title of “Most Brilliant Idea in the Field of Asinine Ideas” goes to C. Josh Donlan, a PhD candidate from Cornell University, an institute of higher learning so prestigious that no less than 8 people a year commit suicide on its campus. It seems that Mr. Donlan, uninterested in flinging himself into Ithaca’s gorges, has instead spent his time at school frowning over the plight of Africa’s wildlife. The animals on the Dark Continent are apparently in danger of extinction, what with all of the khaki-wearing British Safari guides traipsing through the savannah wielding large-caliber rifles and all. Not to mention the dirt-poor, civilizationally challenged natives who rely on said animals for food, clothing, shelter, and materials with which to fabricate musical instruments to sell to tourists. Whereas the rest of the world merely shrugs, or sends a $10 check to the WWF, Mr. Donlan has proposed a controversial yet flawless solution. Flawless meaning, “would work if restricted to the confines of Mr. Donlon’s own mind.” He proposes boxing up some of lions, elephants, and zebras, and shipping them to North America where they would run wild and free.

Like I said, Flawless!

You can read more about Donlon’s proposal here:

Re-wilding of America

He makes a strong case, doesn’t he? I mean, no, he’s obviously a raving lunatic.

Or, “Dr. Raving Lunatic” to you. Other than spending the majority of the article detailing how at one time North America once had thousands of other species living on it, including primeval species of lions, elephants, and camels (the fact that they’re currently extinct should be the first clue that this is a fruitless endeavor), Donlon seems to be exuberant about all of the “benefits” that would result from wild animals wandering around Interstate 95. Benefits that include tourism, employment, and granting C. Josh Donlon a PhD!

Let’s be realistic here; introducing a lion to North America would result in no real discernable benefit for America. Tourism? Yes, I can picture it now, thousands of grubby, fat, spoiled Americans driving hundreds of miles to the middle of nowhere, littering and chatting on cell phones to stare at -- a fence. Lions, in the wild, are not going to hang around near a bunch of noisy tourists, especially if you give them thousands of open acres in which to live.

Plus, there's the element of probability. If you bring a population of lions, elephants, or camels to North America, there is a chance that at least one of them will escape their enclosure. Just ask any one of the hundreds of zoos across the world, and they will tell you that animals escape on a frequent basis. Does anyone want to go hiking in Yellowstone if there's a chance of being attacked by a lion? Or an elephant, which may be one of the world's most dangerous creatures? Of course, the only danger Donlon sees in that scenario is “scared passers-by." Scared? Humans are scared of spiders, clowns, and rollercoasters. I guess Mr. Donlon’s thesaurus doesn’t contain an entry on “Emotions felt when an eight-ton African Elephant is charging towards your children.”

Aside from these scenarios, consider this: if you have just "re"-populated the North American continent with wild animals, animals that have evolved to survive in a completely different environment, it may well be that you have expedited their extinction. There are no gazelles here for lions to eat; the flora typically eaten by elephants is completely different in North America then in Asia or Africa. This naturally means that someone will have to tend to them and supply them with food. Which means, in essence, all you have created is a giant zoo; you aren't "rewilding" anything.

This “brilliant idea” is just further proof that humans, especially those from the hallowed halls of academia, are not truly concerned about the environment in the abstract, but rather asserting their control over nature for their own purposes. In this case, being able to tack on a bunch of letters after their name in order to sell their idea for more grant money.

Silly Mortals.

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