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Mother Nature Network and the Endangered Species Infographic

The weekend is here. As is usual for me, today, I have mostly been reviewing old emails from news sites that I’m subscribed to so that I might know what is happening in the world.

One thing that caught my eye, being the enviro-centric person that I am, is this.

Let me start by saying that I have no doubt in my mind that us humans are having a negative effect on the world and the other species which inhabit it. However, this infographic by ‘Mother Nature Network’ – and by the way, I LOATHE use of the phrase ‘Mother Nature’ as it reminds me of the character ‘MOM’ in Futurama who is not the loving old biddy she promotes herself to be and conjures up an image of smug insincerity – only goes to show to me that we’re not being treated to the ‘real picture’ here. For once I would like to see what the net effect of our existence on this planet really is and not such a one-sided approach, even if this is an estimation. What I mean is that I so often see announcements of the amount of endangered species in the world and the invisible (or at times, blatant) finger pointing in our direction, much like a silent fart blamed on the autistic kid minding his own business, playing with the rubik’s cube in the corner. The repurcussion of such a portrayl of our apparent fault is that people start to think everything is hopeless and berate themselves. I, too, have been guilty of this, what with my idealistic tendencies and vegetarian ways. Guilt, in fact, was what drew me into abstaining from eating meat in the first place, but looking at it all from a logical perspective, berating oneself is not useful and just creates self-loathing where there should be action.

I wonder if it is as cut-and-dry as ‘it is our fault’. Statistics, after all, can be used for bad. In a recent meeting I attended as part of my day job, a colleague pointed out to the attendees that numbers and statistics mean nothing without comparative analysis and a degree of commitment to learn from mistakes. I thought to myself after hearing this, ‘how true’. In the context of our effect, how many species could we have actually saved or helped to create by mere proximity? Ultimately, what I want to see are numbers. Numbers that represent the GOOD we are doing so that I might be able to weigh the two in my mind and say, ‘well, we’re sort of dicks, but hey, we could be a lot worse given the circumstance! Now… to being better!’

I also wonder how much of other species extinction is due to a force outside of our control but that we simply assume fault and that this was not at all as nature intended it… Take bees, for example. Their ‘colony collapse disorder’ and what looks to be pending extinction, if we are to believe Einstein could possibly mean the demise of own species and those around us, but we don’t yet know why this has come to be. It would be so simple to say that it is all our fault. Indeed, one of the theories with regards to this mysterious decline is radiation from mobile phones. My thought is, maybe they were MEANT to die away, and for another species to evolve and take their place. Maybe it is life’s little way of reminding us that ‘evolution’ still applies here, even if we may have forgotten all about it.

There is a certain egotistical arrogance in assuming so melodramatically that we’re the problem and our effects are irreversible to the planet. Chernobyl, for instance – after the nucleur power plant went belly up and humans were vacating the area for fear of their safety – assumed it would never be inhabitable again, and now it is a ‘haven’ to wildlife.

I’m not suggesting what we’re doing here is fine; that we can rest our minds, keep destroying the ozone layer and its neat security system intended to protect all known life, keep destroying the coral reef, sucking the world dry of all oil and polluting the seas, skies and earth while washing it down with a nice gulp of animal slaughter. However, this planet is a self healing one, just as we are when we cut our skin, break our legs.. If we help the planet to recover a little, it will meet us part of the way but how can we even begin to reverse any damage we have done without knowing the extent of the damage we have caused..?

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