Culture

The Great Die-Off

The hawksbill sea turtle
The hawksbill sea turtle
The hawksbill sea turtle is a critically endangered sea turtle belonging to the family Cheloniidae. It is the only extant species in its genus. The species has a worldwide distribution, with Atlantic and Pacific subspecies. | Photo: | The Hawksbill Sea Turtle, Ocean, Endangered, Beauty,

Over 1,600 world species ready to go extinct.

A woman from the Seychelles Islands was busted earlier this month for attempting to sell the shells of dead sea turtles for $10,000 by smuggling them into Singapore, where the shells are used for ashtrays, women's hand baggage, medicine, jewelry and as an aphrodisiac when ground up into a (pardon the pun) Singapore Sling drink.
This is considered a minor crime unlike drug smuggling even though the rare Hawksbill Sea Turtle is an endangered species whose population has dropped 80 percent in the last 10 years.
Barne Florence Flossie Beryl (and with a name like that how could she be up to anything productive?) should serve as the poster woman for the massive die-off of exotic species all around the globe that will now accelerate to an unprecedented scale greatly impoverishing human life on the planet.
Most of us have never seen a Hawksbill Sea Turtle undulating gracefully through diamond-colored waters over a kaleidoscopic rainbow-colored corral reef, but many of us are aware such animals exist, and they figure in our imaginations. That is the central tragedy of our destruction of the planet. Color or wild things or animals don't have to be in our neighborhoods in front of our eyes for us to appreciate them, and for the world to seem a less drab place.
As long as we know they're there out there somewhere, we can imagine them, and we can dream about them and the world remains a place of wonder. But what took nature eons to evolve can't survive a world chocked with souvenir hunters. This isn't a discussion of overpopulation of humans because that by itself if such gains were intelligently planned and managed would not result in the wholesale destruction of the planet's exotic wildlife.
It is possible for human beings in whatever numbers and fantastic animals to cohabit the globe if human beings decide that's what they want.
This instead is a story about greed, stupidity, and avarice, much of the time with China as the lucrative market. To blame one country perhaps isn't fair, but China is the place where rhinoceros horn sells. Mixed in your drink, it also has reputed sexual-enhancing prowess powers, as well as bogus medicinal restorative curing potential. All it takes is for enough people to believe it cures---to create a deadly marketplace.
The world' population of rhinos has decreased 90 percent since 1970.
That's 90 percent.
One of the favored excuses for the stupid and apathetic is the classic oft-used pass-the-buck line, "But they're just too big and strange and too much a throwback like the dinosaurs to survive in a modern age."
I've heard people say this.
What's ironic is that even though this statement represents a cowardly lack of involvement in the world we call home, there is a certain kernel of truth to it. If human beings are mindless, greedy, ignorant savages even though they drive cars and live in cities and ride elevators, there truly isn't enough room for anything unusual to exist. But rather than try and justify the extinction of over 1,600 of the world's animals set to take place over the next two decades, you could at least have the decency to express revulsion about it rather than attempt to justify it as though it was some kind of natural perverted selection of the fittest, or carbon monoxide evolution.
The world's population of tigers has fallen by 95 percent since 1900 to just over 3,000 wild individuals.
As these animals disappear they will no doubt be preserved in small pockets of managed zoo cages, small guarded forest preserves and ranches, though their status as wild animals will cease to exist under a forced type of domestication in which they will likely go extinct anyway. DNA and cloning and the hope for some kind of technology quick fix is already proving unable to reestablish wild populations of animals.
A wild tiger is what it is, not some plodding hybrid creature that freed of purpose for making a living by hunting, pads pointlessly between wire mesh toward a bowl of dog food mixed with hamburger. That isn't a real tiger anymore.
What will the world be like when none of these creatures exist? The dinosaurs died off long before we came and we are fascinated by them and dig up their bones and make movies about them using special effects. They still roam across the landscape of our minds.
I think like the animals themselves, our appreciation of beauty and wonder at what nature managed to create has limits just like the thousands of acres of habitat we yearly burn and plant and sell. Our sense of the world being a wondrous place can go extinct too. When that's gone, there's only one living species left to go---us.
A grey world without color. Go to your city dump and look. My bet is it will look much like that.
Crows will continue to exist, and gulls. They're too smart not to. And insects and rats. But as wondrous as they are and as much as they also have a right to be, they are not like the elephant, whose size and power and stately grace make it the art equivalent of a Picasso painting.
The world's wild elephant population is described as in "freefall."
Future generations will dam us for it. For saying they were just too big. They were just too colorful. They needed too much wild range to exist. They were too much. Or the more blunt and truthful to the point, "they were in the way."
If you think this way then damn you! And me!

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:10 PM EDT | More details

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