Saturday, August 08, 2009

Stopping the tides

'The message for modern conservation, say the authors, is that some groups are more vulnerable to extinction than others, and the focus should be on the lineages most at risk....

"Big groups of organisms tend to be similar to one another," he explained. "Look at the large cats for example."
But genetic similarities also mean, said Dr Grenyer, that "a bad effect that affects one of them, will likely affect all of them".'

King Cnut, Englands last Danish king, demonstrated to his fawning courtiers that he had no more power over the great natural forces that shape our lives than any other man by the simple expedient of sitting on the beach and commanding the tides to halt. Todays conservationists and global warm-mongers alike feel no such constraints.

Species going extinct? No problem, mankind will override evolutionary processes on your behalf! Global climate changing? No problem, man will command the seas to recede, the Sun to warm less, and the atmosphere to be constituted from different gases. Can you say hubris, children? Can you say tilting at windmills children?

Thoughtful scientists long ago gave up thinking of extinction events as things to be fought and tamed. Just like thoughtful people long ago stopped thinking that wildfires were evil and had to be stopped at any cost.

Todays popular scientific culture reminds me of kids in their early teen years- vividly struck by their own importance and capability, overwhelmed by the first taste of adult responsibility and access. This tips constantly over into arrogance and hubris. Thats just the way it is. Everybody makes allowances for it. But it is nevertheless fatally mistaken.

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