Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Scary Beasts

I tuned in last night to Animals Behaving Worse, a program in the PBS "Nature" series that I had started watching the night before. I had been amused by the antics of thieving baboons and marauding black bears falling out of trees...

... and was expecting more of the same as light entertainment before lights out. I had not expected the dark turn the narrative took. Instead of cheerful buffoonery, I was treated to the spectacle of scary creatures.

Hitching rides aboard the modern transportation systems we humans use to navigate the globe, it seems these fellow living beings have found ways to relocate and adapt to new environments with frightening ease. Take the case of the coqui frog...

... arriving in Hawaii from its native Puerto Rico and proliferating wildly, depriving Islanders of sleep with their incessant, high-pitched croaks. Seems it would take the arrival of the dreaded brown tree snake ...

... (originally from Australia and other spots in the Far East and now terrorizing Guam, thanks to military transport) to control them--a solution devoutly NOT to be wished.

Add to this mix: the huge and rapidly expanding population of Asian carp ...

... from East Asia, now infesting the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and threatening the Great Lakes; the Africanized bee--called the "killer bee"--ten times more persistent in the pursuit of intruders on their nests and many times more lethal with its sting; and the plague of red fire ants from Brazil; and you have a sense of how scary the migration of species can be. And these are but a few examples of many. Click on America's Least Wanted Species and the larger picture begins to emerge.

One thing is clear, however: that the most territorially invasive, the most rapacious, the most destructive of all species is our own. We set the example for our fellow beings on this planet, and are scarcely in a position to complain when they follow in our footsteps. The irony is that they might well outlast us. The bees and the ants, the cockroaches and the flies (save that one executed last week at the hand of our president!) may inherit this planet and continue to populate it for eons after our extinction.

What's the lesson of the dharma here? To be respectful of all other living beings, perhaps, and not to assume superiority, as we have done these many centuries. To learn from them the skill of adapting to the environment, rather than forcing it to adapt to us and to our needs. To live in harmony with other species, and with others of our species, and with demands on the environment commensurate with our needs, and theirs. You'll maybe see others; that's my list.


mandt said...

"What's the lesson of the dharma here?" Develop a new cuisine? lol
...just kidding. peace amndT

Gary said...

What informs me most when I observe other species is their steady pursuit of adaptation. I see this in my dog and bees but still search for more of it in myself.

Can we adapt to climate change?

Yes, stop burning coal everywhere right?

It won't happen unless we use our powerful brains very fast to change the course of civilization by living differently!

"You don't miss your water till your well runs dry" BB King.

We suffer from D.A.I. or "dangerous anthropogenic interference", named by Dr James Hansen, the Nobel prize climatologist, in his 1981 paper in Science.

The migration of birds was the seed and insect distribution system prior to our appearance in the biosphere. Our transportation technology since the wheel sure did mix up the natural balance by moving whole cultures and ways of living in decades or seconds of geologic time.

We have about 127 seconds to get right for we are on the Earths clock and it is wound tight as a tick.

Learn from the Bees!