All Rights Reserved © 2002 Thomas W. Day
A few years back, I was traveling in a smoke filled pickup with my brother and one of his friends. The conversation, somehow, had drifted to the reintroduction of timber wolves on public lands in the northwest. These two hobby cattlemen were irritated that perfectly good grazing land was being wasted on a wild animal; even worse, a predator. Obviously, the conversation degenerated into one of the many the ever-popular anti-tree-hugging diatribe. Winding down, it all ended on a statement that tree-huggers ought to be concerned that cattlemen were going extinct.
Until that moment, I hadn't realized that cattlemen were a species. Having known a fair number of real cattlemen in my ag-tech-support past, I'd always thought of them as members of the more common homo sapiens sup-species and as nothing more specific than industrialists in a rectally-emitting smokestack industry. Once I considered this new knowledge, I began to feel real concern for other, long extinct, occupational species. Buggy whip weavers, for example. Stovepipe hat blockers were especially cruelly extinguished, in the prime of their abilities and stylishness.
Picking on my brother's hobbies is a great pastime, but it's not the real purpose in this rant. Humans have developed a species-centric perspective that is becoming downright vicious. All of the religions we've created, including science, are based on the idiotic idea that humans are the end product of evolution. That species-centric outlook would be good comedy if we weren't so prone to take it to globally destructive extremes.
Here in Minnesota, for instance, the Department of Natural Resources has become concerned because the deer population is approaching one million, "far too many for the habitat to support." In the Twin Cities, alone, there are nearly four million humans, but the entire state is incapable of supporting one million deer? In Arizona, the FLM experts have decided that the desert is incapable of supporting more than 40,000 wild horses. So, they roundup and redistribute the "excess" animals on a regular basis. Redistribution often means selling the animals to dog and people food processors. In the 1930s, there were more than two hundred thousand wild horses in Arizona and the desert appeared to support those animals considerably better than it supports the five million people who live there now. Which animal uses and misuses the most resources, deer, wild horses, wolves, or humans? Which animal is more likely to exceed the carrying capacity of a given piece of real estate?
The idea that wild and free animals are encroaching on human habitat has become the usual human perspective on real estate. Even to urbanites, it ought to be obvious that the animals were here first. It's humans who are doing the encroaching. Rapidly approaching five billion on earth, soon the only species that will outnumber us will be house flies and cockroaches. Without the food we supply to those species, they would be in trouble too.
Since it's so obvious and easy to determine how many of each wild animal species belong in a given territory, I'd like to ask why that same calculation hasn't been made for humans? Biologists make precise statements about how many acres per animal are required in a given habitat, based on the animals' nature, diet, and the available resources. Predators always require a lot more space than herbivores. Humans, being the ultimate predator, would seem to require the most space but that's a calculation I've never been able to find.
Personally, I've always considered most human abnormalities to be "population diseases." Many of these behavioral oddities are so "normal" in our current overpopulated world that it has become politically incorrect to describe them as unnatural or aberrations. Most non-reproductive sexual preferences, for example, are obviously nature's attempt to prevent humans from procreating. Homosexuality and variations on that theme take a significant portion of the population out of the breeding pool. Mental illness, especially those illnesses that shorten life expectancy, reduce average longevity and population growth. And, of course, good 'ole and ever-popular wars and other crimes of violence are effective population reducers. These are the tactics, and the only tactics, humans use to prevent overpopulation.
If we were truly a rational animal, we'd be more proactive about managing human population. War, for example, is a typically human response to population control. In other words, it's stupid. War is similar to organized hunting as a population control tactic. Hunters actively seek out and destroy the most healthy and attractive animals, leaving the sick, weak, and weird looking to reproduce and continue the species. Wars do the same thing to human populations. The easiest way to avoid being killed in a foreign war is to have a serious defect, to be 4F. Fit males get shipped off to be killed and the defective stay home and breed. Yet another brilliant innovation from the folks who brought you communism, dictatorships, feudalism, monarchies, and international corporations.
Humans have ruled the planet for less than 5,000 years and have been a significant evolutionary force for less than 50,000 years. In geologic time, we've been here for less than an instant. In biological time, we've barely been here for much longer. At our current rate of stupidity, it's hard to imagine we'll be around to meet the next dominant species. Unless we destroy the planet, we're likely to be leaving it to that unlucky species in the not all that distant future.
However, an awful lot of humans appear to be determined to take out the planet when we go. The Reagan Administration was stuffed full of people who could expound on Manifest Destiny and other comedic standards. Bush I & II rehired many of those same simpletons and they are charging ahead, ignorantly and theocratic-ly, into the overpopulation void. The race seems to be between finding a way to use up the world's natural resources in a single generation and breeding so effectively that we reach standing-room-only. As Mark Twain said, "humans descended from the higher animals." Was he talking about rabbits?