We Are the Wild Ones

The thesis of Jon Mooallem's book Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in North America is that preserving the "wildness" of many endangered species may well be impossible, now that human influence is  "bleeding into virtually all the available space," and he uses stories of the Lange's metalmark butterfly, the polar bear, and the whooping crane to show that there is a "fluidity to nature that's not easy to recognize or accept" and how climate change and human expansion is certain to eventually put these particular animals out of business -- but even though there is a certain futility in trying to save them, people do . . . and their actions, though ludicrous (tedious butterfly breeding and counting, airlifting starving polar bears, and dressing in whooping crane costumes and going on a year long epic journey in a caravan of trailers and ultra-light planes, in order to teach the cranes to migrate without having them become accustomed to humans) show an essential human goodness, but in the end, these very wild species may die out, and be replaced by synanthropes -- wild species that coexist with man with relative ease: rats, jellyfish, kudzu, roaches, starlings, raccoons, pigeons, etc, and while these species are likened to "ecological Applebee's and Walmart . . . spreading through nature and homogenizing it, while putting the more fragile mom-and-pops out of business," at least we will have some wildness near us (and judging by how some whooping cranes are adjusting to humanity -- eating seed from bird feeders and corn scraps from an ethanol plant -- they may end up like my least favorite bird, which was once endangered, and now defecates on every golf course in our country, the Canadian goose).


zman said...

Dave hates Canada and their geese.

Dave said...

but i care about canada and a care about (some) geese.

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