Wednesday, 21 January 2015

White rhino


According to the BBC and David Shukman the northern white rhino is teetering on the brink of extinction. Although it doesn’t look white to me. More grey than white. Shukman seems concerned though. Even more worried than the rhino but that’s what he does – brow-furrowing concern.

In an age when mankind can send robots to look for life on Mars, why can't science stop so many forms of life from being wiped out here on Earth?

The question comes amid the loss of species on such a relentless scale that conservationists call it the Sixth Mass Extinction - the fifth being the asteroid that killed the large dinosaurs. This one is driven by human activity.

It seems to me that there is a scale of possible reactions to this story.

From: Arm-waving we-are-destroying-the-planet, something must be done, it’s all our fault or rather your fault for being a thoughtless consumer bastard.

To: Indifference.

I’m firmly in the indifference camp – I really don’t care if northern white rhinos become extinct. I’m happy enough for other folk to try saving them, happy enough for substantial sums of money to be spent in the attempt - Shukman's salary for example. So go for it David - save them. 

I’m not prepared to pretend it really matters to me in any meaningful sense though. That would be cant. Johnson was good at spotting cant, especially in Boswell.

You tell a man, ‘I am sorry you had such bad weather the last day of your journey, and were so much wet.’ You don't care sixpence whether he is wet or dry. You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in Society: but don't think foolishly.”
James Boswell's  Life  of  Samuel  Johnson,  LL.D.

The BBC does cant rather well, it’s the fashion and has been forever, but Johnson’s advice was sound. It even applies to northern white rhinos which aren't actually white.


James Higham said...

Now AKH. is this not getting a little curmudgeonly? :)

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Viagra could be made in rhino horn size & shape, that might help. But to cant. How many times do you say 'excuse me - and sotto voce - out the way bast**d', or 'thank you - and about time too'. I suppose other people say the same about me. Cant, a lot of it about, oh, I'm so sorry.

Demetrius said...

If that asteroid due to pass by on 26 January develops an unexpected wobble it may all be academic.

A K Haart said...

James - too little you mean :)

Roger - on the whole I enjoy being polite. It causes the niggles to fade away - although my wife may have something to add about that.

Demetrius - in such a case I'll be wishing for a direct hit. Anything less could be grim.

Anonymous said...

I felt much the same about the Natterjack Toad.

Anyone know what ever happened to it?

Perhaps it packed its bags and buggered off to Africa for a safer life.

I dunno!

A K Haart said...

David - the great crested newt is another we don't hear about these days. Not telegenic enough I suppose.