Following the recent death of Professor Stephen Hawking with the last interviews and his final paper attention has been given on his prediction for our planet and his recommendation that we start looking and planing for a way out via another planet or planets.
Obviously no one, certainly not myself, would challenge the thinking of such a great person but I think there is a danger here of leaving human kind an “option” to ignore its moral and practical obligations.
Hawking’s reported rationale was that humankind would eventually fall victim to an extinction-level catastrophe – perhaps sooner rather than later. What worried him were so-called low-probability, high impact events – a large asteroid striking our planet is the classic example.
But Hawking perceived a host of other potential threats: artificial intelligence, climate change, GM viruses and nuclear war to name a few.
In 2016, he told the BBC: “Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or 10,000 years.”
My fear is that the “other planet option” may be counter productive in the same way that some people consider zoos could act as some sort of “arc” housing species whilst letting then become extinct in the wild.
I hope that people will read all the interview that Professor Hawkins gave including the final paragraph. The day we can evacuate humankind ( and the flora and fauna of our planet) are in his words well over 200 years away. Even the most optimistic climate scientists understand we are far closer to dramatic and disastrous change at our current rate of CO2 emission measuring it in decades or less.
The Professor was confident that humans would spread out into the cosmos by that time (given the chance), but added:
“We will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period.”
Trophy hunting has often been cited as a way of making wildlife “pay its way” and therefore aid conservation but is this really thought through ? Why should wildlife “pay its way” after all does everything in the world we wish to preserve pay its way ? What about other natural wonders, mountains, waterfalls and human made monuments, buildings art work ? Do they all make a profit ? Come to think about it what about humans that don’t make a profit ( most people retire in the developed economies from that point they are a net loss do we make them pay or else !)
Ok lets assume we ignore the moral argument and say “tough” animals that have been on the planet for millions of years must pay their way for an animal (us) that has been around for 250 thousand years.
So just from a pure logical solution should individuals that feel the need, and have the money, be allowed to shoot some of the animals and a portion of that money help look after the ones which don’t get shot ? Would it or does it work ?
Well I and many others think no and for a number of reasons.
- The first one is a bit obvious and really makes the others a bit redundant. It hasn’t worked. Hunting and trophy hunting exists in many areas in Africa yet all those hunted species have declined. There is no population booms of Lions in the Selous in Southern Tanzania, take a look here , where hunting is allowed in around 80% of the reserve.
- Ok so lets pretend you ignore the above or you are just checking the other reasons. Hunting is selective but in entirely the opposite direction of natural selection. Trophy hunters look for trophies ( hence the name !). They look for the biggest horns, heads, manes and tusks. Therefore they pick off the fittest animals, the animals that are dominant within their group. This causes conflict ( leading to more deaths) and the removal of the fittest ( as opposed to the survival of the fittest. To read more about this take a look here
AN ORPHAN ELEPHANT BEING SHELTERED BY HIS KEEPER FROM THE SUN WITH AN UMBRELLA.
DAPHNE SHELDRICK RUN THE WORLDS OLDEST ELEPHANT ORPHANAGE, WHERE ELEPHANTS ARE EVENTUALLY RELEASED BACK INTO THE WILD. . THEY HAVE TO CARE FOR THE ORPHANS AROUND THE CLOCK, HAVE TO BOTTLE FEED THEM REGULARLY AND THEIR KEEPERS SLEEP WITH THEM AT NIGHT. Please visit the Sheldrick foundation to see how you can help
3. Still not convinced by the facts well read on. If you kill an animal for a trophy it is generally going to be a large mammal and will have a social role. Mother, pack leader, hunter and so on. So a single shot can leave an orphan, orphans and or an undefended pack/herd/pride so that one shot kills more than one animal. How brave does that hunter look now knowing they will be causing the death of other unprotected animals, usually young, due to their brief ego fix ?
4. Finally do you honestly think that a large amount of the money ends up going back into conservation from the company that runs a hunting operation ? Don’t take their word look at their company accounts.
So if you are at a dinner party or in a bar and somebody attempts to justify their hunting trip try running these points past them. If they still go on about the “rush”of shooting an unarmed animal with a high velocity rifle then perhaps it’s a good time to change dinner guests or the bar where you drink.