David Shiffman of Southern Fried Science was kind enough to send me his 11-point thought piece on the killing of Cecil. Here’s my list; I only have four points.
1) Humans are by far the kindest, most compassionate, most creative, most violent, most destructive and most misery-inducing animal in the history of the world. We are the only creature capable of creating global problems. Demonstrably, we are not capable of solving the biggest problems we create. By any definition we are an invasive species, now at plague proportion. Because there are too many of us, extinction rates are sharply up. We are creating an extinction spasm unprecedented in tens of millions of years.
2) That puts into proportion the saddest fact: Cecil’s illegal and inhumane killing represents the merest whisper of the deafening roar of the catastrophe we are bringing to lions and all other large land animals. Expanding human populations continually erode lion space, lion lives and lion numbers. The African lion population has declined 75 percent during my lifetime. African elephant ranges are shrinking like crazy as killing and human expansion causes their numbers to plummet. As our billions balloon, almost all mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish species face a worldwide shortage of the room they need to persist. Essentially all have suffered sharp declines in the last century, thanks to deforestation, agriculture, warming, ocean acidification, overfishing and overhunting. But conservation works. Whales are recovering; ospreys, peregrine falcons and bald eagles are recovering; many fish in U.S. waters are recovering.
3) So — you are needed. Don’t just put up indignant Facebook postings about the dentist who killed Cecil; he’s a noxious sideshow. Get engaged in helping animals. If you are in grief and mourning over Cecil’s killing, you can do something; you can support conservation groups and become active and involved with them. For just lion conservation, click here. For elephants I like WildAid, Save the Elephants, Amboseli Trust, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Big Life Foundation. There are groups for cheetahs, snow leopards, stopping extinctions, protecting wild coasts — you name it. There are hundreds of good groups. Look up the issue that grabs your passion and involve yourself.
4) The only thing that has demonstrably worked to reduce the human population explosion rate is letting women take charge of their lives. In nations where women and men have equal access to education, family planning technology and financing, birth rates reach replacement or slightly below. Vote for pro-women candidates and parties, and engage in pro-women groups working on birth spacing, literacy, micro-financing and the like. Fixing the oppression and disenfranchisement of women — the biggest injustice in human cultures worldwide — brings immediate alleviation of suffering for many real people, advances human dignity, and holds nothing less than the salvation of the world.
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