Hunters often spout off about their “birth right” to shoot and kill wildlife recreationally. The rest of us be damned—they’ve got a god-given entitlement to “harvest” elk, or further disrupt the balance of nature by eliminating wolves. Heck, it’s not their doing that the last of the wild places and species are disappearing fast. After all, they’ve got seven kids to feed…
As much as it turns the stomach to envision, the “boiling frog syndrome” (based on the fable that a frog placed in hot water will jump out, but the same frog placed in cold water which is slowly heated will not recognize the danger) is a fitting metaphor for people’s failure to react to the momentous changes they are affecting across the planet.
The human’s ability to adapt to change is impressive. It always amazes me to see how easily the inhabitants of a busy city can accept ridiculous conditions. As an infrequent visitor, I can’t get used to ever-worsening traffic jams, but to those adapted to it, being wedged in among thousands of others is just a fact of life. With each new lane added to the highways, there’s less and less wildlife habitat and open space. So, what’s fueling the human expansion into every last vestige of wilderness?
Dare I say it? I guess someone has to:
Professor Paul R. Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, dared to say it in 1968 (when humans numbered only 3.5 billion), following it up in 1991 (when 5.3 billion humans walked the Earth) with The Population Explosion. In 1970, he told National Wildlife Magazine, “It isn’t a question of people or animals–it’s got to be both of us or we’re finished. We can’t get along without them. They could get along without us.” Today, the human population has erupted to over 7 billion, while the number of species now extinct or endangered continues to grow exponentially as well.
The “boiling frog” story may only be a fable, but humans had best be mindful of gradual changes lest they suffer unfavorable consequences.