Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Let the Pandas Go Extinct!

"The television presenter said that the species was not strong enough to
survive on its own and that the millions spent preserving them could be better
spent elsewhere.

Mr Packham, who hosts BBC2’s Springwatch, also argued that breeding the
animals in captivity for later release was pointless because there is not enough
habitat left to sustain them.

He said: “Here’s a species that of its own accord has gone down an evolutionary cul-de-sac. It’s not a strong species.

“Unfortunately, it’s big and cute and it’s a symbol of the World Wildlife Fund – and we pour millions of pounds into panda conservation. “I reckon we should pull the plug. Let them go with a degree of dignity.”"

Thus began a story in The Daily Telegraph today. What an unlikely place for an outbreak of common sense: the BBC! Telegraph bloggers have been jumping all over this story in an unusual display of agreement.

James Kirkup entitled his post: "Pandas: let's just eat the idiot-bears" and wrote:
"Thank you Chris Packham, thank you. Thank you for saying something I’ve
been trying to persuade people of for years. Pandas are pointless, wasteful and silly. They should die.

Let’s look at the facts here. A lot of conservationists argue that pandas
are the victims of man’s actions, that urbanisation and industrialisation is
killing the precious bamboo they need to live.

Eh? Bamboo? They are bears, but they eat leaves. Hello, excuse me? Panda
bear. Bear. You know, large, aggressive carnivore. Big teeth, claws. Grrrr.
You’re supposed to eat meat. What on earth is with the bamboo thing? A panda’s
digestive system is still set up to digest meat. The reason they can only eat
only one of the hundreds of different types of bamboo the world has to offer is
that their guts aren’t supposed to break down bamboo. It’s elevating fussiness
to the level of suicide. It’s like me eating only car tyres and gravel and then
asking for sympathy when I starve to death. Idiots."

You know, he has a bit of a point there, as the Brits like to say. But not only are they fussy eaters, they are fussy about sex too. Kirkup again:
"Then there’s sex. Pandas don’t like sex. All that weird, zoo-keeper stuff
about putting two of them in a cage and seeing if they’ll mate. Honestly, an
animal either wants to perpetuate its genes or it doesn’t. And the idiot-bears
clearly have some species-wide death-wish. Who are we to stand in their way? I
thought the whole conservationism thing was about allowing nature to follow its
own course without human interference? Pandas don’t work. Let them go."

Another good point. As a conservative Christian I get tired of the atheists shoving evolution in my face all the time. Evolution makes men promiscuous; you can't do a thing about it. Evolution is the explanation for this, that and the other thing and always traditional values are apparently evolutionary dead-ends. OK, so let's talk evolution and pandas.

Why should we knock outselves out trying to perpetuate a species that is such an evolutionary dead end? Why can't we just admit that black bears, brown bears, grizzly bears and the panda's close relatives, polar bears, are all successful instances of evolutionary adaptation, but the panda is the evolutionary equivalent of "a nice try?"

After all, black bears happily adapt to eating campers' garbage at the campground we frequent every July in Algonquin Park; they don't require choice, moist bamboo leaves and go on hunger strikes when they don't get them. And they don't seem to mind sharing their habitat with humans at all. In fact, if we don't lock every single food item in the trunk every single night they will even come to visit! Now those bears are entrepreneurial and are obviously bent on survival. And, if you know anything about their mating habits, you know that they are not exactly monogamous like loons; they seem to have no objections whatsoever to sex any time with any bear in town.

Personally, I think Evolution dictates the solution to the panda problem.

Now, health care rationing has been in the news lately and it strikes me as relevant to this whole panda thing too. Obama thinks that, rather than curing disease in the very elderly, (which, I think, is defined as anyone older than you), we should just pop Granny a few cheap, pain pills and let nature take its course. Very rational man, that Obama; a real disciple of Jeremy Bentham. Knows how to put that old utilitarian calculus into action; he is certainly not one of those bleeding heart Republicans! Anyway, it turns out that it costs 1.5 million pounds per year to keep each and every one of those 150 pandas that we have in captivity around the world. Now, I'm willing to bet that by the time Obama squeezes savings of 500 million out of Medicare, he is going to be looking for easier ways to get that last hundred million. You know, 1.5 million pounds here and 1.5 million there soon adds up to serious cost savings. After all, if Granny has to go, what justification is there for keeping a 300 pound carnivore who only eats bamboo leaves, and is too fussy to have sex other than once a decade, around? I'd keep Granny for an extra year and eat the pandas.

James Delingpole has an excellent suggestion. That man is just full of practical business sense. What a waste as a journalist. Anyway, his idea is as follows:
"This could be a major conservation opportunity. There are approximately 1000
Pandas left in the wild. If hunting licences were granted at, say, $200 million
a pop to sicko billionaires, this would raise enough money (probably) to stop
global warming, rescue Tuvalu, and bio-engineer a brand new bamboo-rich planet
on which the graceful panda could live in peace and harmony for all
Come on Al Gore, you would trade 1000 wild pandas (and 150 more in zoos) if you actually could save the planet? As opposed to just making documentaries about it? Wouldn't you? Sure you would. (And who knows, there could be enough left over to keep Granny for say, maybe, 18 months longer.)

Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking: "But what about the World Wildlife Federation? Wouldn't they need a new logo?" Delingpole lists this as a concern, but I just don't get it. What on earth would be wrong with the WWF having an extinct animal in its logo? Isn't it just perfect? I mean, a non-existent animal as the symbol for a non-existent problem. I think this is exquisite. It was simply meant to be.

So there you have it. It is either pandas or the whole planet and I think it's a no-brainer. (And if we get to keep Granny for an extra year to year and a half, it's a win for everybody.) The pandas would probably be agitating for assisted suicide laws to help them go gently into that good night themselves right now - if they had any bloody initiative whatsoever.

No comments: