domenica, maggio 10, 2009

Orangutans are smarter than me

I hate to admit it but I have no idea how to short out hot wires. If you stuck me in a cage with an electrified boundary, I'd probably figure out how to get out eventually. But we're talking really fucking eventually here. For me the most remarkable part of that article is the last sentence. "She has shorted hot wires before, but just to get food." And then she used that food-getting skill to short them during some sort of emotional crisis that drove her out of her enclosure, and then she immediately had a crisis of confidence, and wanted to go back in. Holy shit. Resourceful and neurotic. How eerily human.

Not the first orangutan experimental electrician when it comes to that:

I hope they're enjoying themselves. It's awful to look at great apes in zoos because we're a great ape. Eww. Orangutans are in big trouble in the wild, though. Two culprits: forest clearing in southeast Asia for 1) palm tree cultivation and 2) pulp and paper industry. What to do as a private citizen? Be aware that any time you eat something with 'vegetable oil' on the ingredient list, it's almost definitely palm oil, and the palm oil industry is a merrily deforesting one. Go for olive oil. It'll force you to cook more for yourself, and that's better for your health. And the parts of Europe where they grow olives are already so environmentally degraded it won't make a damn bit of difference. As far as the pulp and paper industry goes, the WWF has a Paper Toolbox they're working on, to help with buying choices; it's more geared to corporate buyers but it's something.

I suspect it's also important to monetize or commoditize (or whatever the appropriate ugly word is) conservation efforts. I think most sensible people would like to find a way to ensure that people living in environmentally sensitive areas don't go the European route and absolutely ruin local biodiversity by hacking every last fucking tree down except for estates where the royal fucking inbred incestuous families can play caveman and chase foxes like fucking five-year-old morons. But then not that many people actually spring for the sort of holiday that gets money in local people's pockets for showing off the nature. Well, why would they. I'd rather watch David Attenborough, myself. Fewer mosquitoes. And generally people like a bit of luxury on their holidays. What a fucking world it is, anyways.

Speaking of the Attenborough, he's come out more than once explaining human overpopulation is the main driver of long term environmental degradation - that we're just too much of a burden on the planet. And I don't think he's wrong. What annoys me sometimes, though, is a sort of general unconsciousness of the fact that the people having tonnes of children in the developing world have a good reason for having tonnes of children: infant mortality rates are so high, or have recently been so high, that (in the words of E.P. Thompson, whose Making of the English Working Class I'm really enjoying) they 'made a mockery of family planning.' You can't ask a woman to only have one or two children if there's a healthy chance the children won't survive for a couple of years. You can't just educate people about how not to have children when the general health conditions and social security structures are so visibly bad they've got a real understanding of the fact they stand a good chance of growing old alone and unsupported if they limit their families. It's inhuman, and what's more, it's impractical. So damn sticky. There needs to be an improvement of six or seven things at once to do anything about overpopulation.

2 commenti:

Baywatch ha detto...

i heard about Attenboy and his OPT. still smacks of 1st world elitism to me.

I'm only talking out my ass here as usual, but it seems to me that the last time I checked, the consumption of global resources is skewed to the opposite extreme: it's those parts of the world with zero or negative birthrates that are responsible for the greatest degree of global degradation.

In terms of long term environmental degradation, I'd wager sheer numbers count for less than consumption patterns.

of course, if we are successful in exporting our lovely 2-car, plasticbag, fastfood, supersizeme, fuckyou lifestyle to the rest of the world, than we are truly screwed.

Dread Pirate Jessica ha detto...

I agree with you, but I think there are specific species degradation and deforestation issues associated with local population growth and the rapid spread of developing-world cities that probably got the stick up Attenborough's ass, and fair enough.

I've never been to the developing world to make a nature documentary so I wouldn't know what that looks like, but my instinctual guess is that even there, the problem isn't so much the number of people as the inefficient use of resources because of a shitty or corrupt economic and governmental infrastructure.

Mind you, my instinctual guess is also that if shitty or corrupt economic and governmental infrastructure was fixed, people wouldn't have so many children.