by Dave Hanks
My brother Richard, in the later part of his working years, was employed by an irrigation company. His job consisted mainly of taking soil moisture samples and recommending watering
procedures to the client. In order to do this, it took a great deal of investigative searching, testing and the practical experience previously gained from operating his own farm. His Father-In-law would periodically ask his advice, only to completely disregard it in favor of that which he had heard on “the street”.
This frustrated my brother to “no end” to say the least. Yet he was guilty of the same thing regarding environmental issues that had entered the political arena – totally disregarding the findings of scientists in favor of “crack-pot” radio, television, and newspaper commentators ( the likes of Limbaugh, Bell, Maughan, to name a few ) who were pushing a political agenda.
Why do people do this? Why do they shut their ears and eyes to the obvious? I was a Biology teacher in high school and so I have witnessed this closing of the mind on a first-hand basis. This is especially true in environmental science and the theories relating to species continuation and adaptation. Parents were always interfering in the learning process. The following is a quote I have para-phrased that I believe most timely: ” People toss out science in order to assuage their insecurity in certain of their own ideologues, especially religious ones – purposely closing off any contact with biological education. Scientific illiteracy is leaving too many of us unprepared to discuss or understand the damage we are wreaking on our own habitat and even on our own existence. ”
I have long been a preacher for the tremendous importance of variety. Variety seems to me to be as important an eternal principle as any other you’d care to mention, yet there is an almost insane drive by the human animal to reduce it as much as possible. Whether it is in our social drive to follow styles to be like the next guy, or the drive to make us all think and act alike in a religious context, or the replacing of naturally occurring bio-systems with
mono-cultures. Ethnic variety is what’s made America strong on the world stage. Likewise the elimination of variety in naturally occurring gene pools will eventually catch-up with us all. A very frustrating and frightening prospect to me!
I always cringe when others refer to me as a bird watcher. They talk as if all we do is recreate with birds. This attitude hits me as so trivial that it is irksome. While I do love birds and observe them, I love everything out there in nature. Our time is spent photographing all life-forms, birds being the most abundant and noticeable. What I really am is a naturalist and a conservationist. Hopeful what we do might have an effect in some small way on the attitudes of others. After all, I don’t think there is any concern facing the human race more serious than keeping our planet healthy. Also, to keep it viable through the preservation of all the variety possible in all the many and varied gene pools.
In this race for the dollar and the using up of everything on this earth, who will be the eventual winner?