We act as though animals matter only when they benefit humans.
Marian Locksley's insight:
My usual strategy is to trot out a list of ways even the most obscure species can prove unexpectedly, yes, useful. The first effective treatment that turned H.I.V. from a death sentence into a manageable condition? Inspired by the biochemistry of a nondescript Caribbean sponge. The ACE inhibitors that are currently among our most effective treatments for cardiovascular disease (and which have lately been proposed as a treatment for Ebola)? Developed by studying the venom of the fer-de-lance, a deadly snake found from Mexico to northern South America. The new medical bandage that’s gentle enough for the delicate skin of newborns and the elderly? Modeled on the silk of spider webs.
Every time I begin this line of argument, though, I get the queasy feeling that I am perpetuating a fallacy. It’s not that I’m telling lies; these examples are entirely real. But given, for instance, that three-quarters of our farm crops depend on insect pollinators, or that more than 2.6 billion people rely directly on seafood for protein, it seems a little obvious to be reminding people that wildlife can be useful, or, more to the point, that human survival depends on wildlife. Without saying so out loud, the argument also implies that animals matter only because they benefit humans, or because just possibly, at some unknowable point in the future, they might benefit humans.!!!
You don’t have to look too far to see how silly this can get. In truth, I don’t have to look at all, because university press offices fill my inbox with examples every day: The Harvard scientists who hope their study of cuttlefish skin will “inspire improved protective camouflage for soldiers on the battlefield.” The Berkeley team that thinks studying the genetics of blubber-eating polar bears could help us learn to live with our bacon-wrapped, wide-load lifestyle. And the wonderful folks at Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore, who believe “Squid sucker ring teeth material could aid reconstructive surgery, serve as eco-packaging.” (And you thought they were good only for calamari.)
Marine staff at leading local wildlife charity Cornwall Wildlife Trust were thrilled to hear that a Newquay fisherman has finally proven that seahorses are found on Cornwall’s north coast. Daniel Gilbert skipper of Newquay crabber ‘Tizardleeon’ found the beautiful yellow seahorse clinging to a crab pot while working four miles north west of Newquay’s Towan Headland on Friday 2nd of September.
In a chat with 'Her Deepness', Earle reveals her thoughts on eating seafood today ('Think of them as wildlife, first and foremost.' Renowned marine biologist Sylvia Earle on eating fish: http://t.co/f7DgrMqrO0)...
Sea Shepherd Australia will be doing their part at the end of the year by protecting Patagonian Toothfish. Why is it important that we protect this species and the Ross Sea as a whole?
THE ROSS SEA is the most pristine marine ecosystem on earth. Unlike most of the world’s oceans it has remained free from widespread pollution, invasive species, mining and overfishing. It is the most productive stretch of water in the Southern Ocean providing a home to an incredible array of animals, many found nowhere else on the planet.
What's more, the Ross Sea still has all it's top predators - including large fish, whales, seals and penguins. The Ross Sea is one of very few intact large marine ecosystem left, and as such, it is a living laboratory providing scientists with the last chance to understand how a healthy marine ecosystem functions.
Estimating abundance of Antarctic minke whales is central to the International Whaling Commission's conservation and management work and understanding impacts of climate change on polar marine ecosystems.
What? Haven't we seen this movie before? Now that they have the green light to drill in the Canary Islands, oil giant Repsol plans to deploy three “probes” – two over 3,000 meters deep and one 6,900 meters deep below the seafloor, which sits 1,500 meters underwater. That's meters, not feet! What are they thinking? Check out Courtney Mattison's story at Mission Blue.
These stories of measured success and cute animals suggest the ocean may not be entirely screwed!
Marian Locksley's insight:
From my friend @Deb Castellana >> Let's all sing along with Pharrell Williams to 'Happy' and check it out. My favorite: #14. Sylvia Earle. If everyone started their day with a pep talk from her, the earth would be a better (bluer) place. http://bit.ly/ZtaWtY