Imagine climbing into a protected area where grizzly bears are feeding. Imagine doing this without any kind of protection for yourself, say, to try to cop a closeup of yourself looking like Grizzly Adams.
Next to an enormous, hungry grizzly bear who is likely very territorial and doesn’t give a flying poo about your safety. Your liver, maybe, which might make a great change of pace from the salmon.
Imagine the level of stupidity it takes to pull such a stunt. Such was the case with some unnamed-to-date a**hole tourists who got busted doing precisely that in Brooks Camp, Alaska https://www.nps.gov/katm/learn/news/charges-pending-for-visitors-who-approached-bears-in-closed-area.htm.
I hope they rot in jail, and then rot in hell. That’s just me.
But then, there won’t be many grizzlies left because the Administration just recently declared open season on sleeping grizzlies and their cubs in their caves. Of course they did. Just like they declared open season on wolves. Of course they did (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-hibernating-bears-legal-repeal-obama-ban-hunting-alaska-ronald-young-environmental-a7673686.html).
I hope these people rot from colon cancer. I really, really do. But that’s just me.
And here’s why: I am an adventure traveler who spends more than a third of the year in some of the world’s most incredible places- places which are getting rarer by the minute, and the wildlife in them more decimated by climate change, human incursion and this kind of relentless, mindless invasion of their spaces. I have had it up to here with this kind of selfish, self-serving ignorance which puts not only the animals but also themselves in danger. If the animal reacts as it is born to do, it gets destroyed as a risk to humanity. Pardon me for pointing this out, but who is going to go after the jerkoffs who kill rare Yellowstone white wolves who endangered nobody? Who is going to go after the redneck pustules who kill protected gorgeous elk in Rocky Mountain National Park, elk who endangered nobody but were quietly grazing too close to the road? Who is going to go after the pissant who recently shot two mountain goats on the top of a Colorado peak just for the fun of it? They endangered nobody. (https://abcnews.go.com/US/mountain-goats-shot-close-range-colorado-hiking-trail/story?id=56455288)
Frankly, I could care less if those tourists had gotten eviscerated. Call me unkind but that’s the Darwin Principle at work. If you are so stupid that you think that feeding wild grizzlies are fodder for your Facebook page then you deserve having an up close and personal view of your guts before griz finishes you off. I feel the same way about horse’s asses who put rattlesnakes next to their cheeks and who think it’s cute to put their face into a gator’s mouth. Then they blame the snake or the gator for getting angry and defensive. I’m a Floridian by birth, and I grew up with rattlers and gators. Any damned fool from the South knows better. However, apparently a great many others don’t.
This is no isolated incident, either. I see it absolutely everywhere I travel, and I have been to some pretty epic places. Epic places that are trashed, damaged, shat on and invaded. By us. Epic places where all the wildlife that is rare, beautiful, and worth protecting is being wiped out by pollution, incursion, trapping and killing. For money. For greed. Or for no good reason other than it’s fun.
This is the Cost of Your Snack Food
Or because companies like Pepsi Cola want Indonesian forests burnt down so that they can produce more palm oil, so locals cut off the hands of the increasingly rare orangutan or set them on fire because they’re pests. So that we can have Doritos. I was just in Indonesia. I saw this. This is as evil as it gets. This is what it takes for YOU to eat your goddamned snack food.
Yes. This is a rant.
The world’s last great places are being overrun, in part because vastly more of us have the money to travel to them. On one hand that’s great for the tourism industry. Not for everyone. From the Antarctic to poor Iceland in particular, the world is getting is sick and tired of tourists taking dumps by the roadside anywhere they please, taking ridiculous chances in their extremely dangerous landscapes and getting killed (good riddance, to my mind) https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/07/iceland-tourism/533382/. Endangering or trapping or killing off their beautiful, rare wildlife because “I wanna have one.” Or, as in the case of so many animals, because some damned fool thinks it’s going to make his pecker work. It doesn’t. But that doesn’t stop the poaching, murder and mutilation of the world’s last tigers (https://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/986697/Tiger-family-feared-wiped-out-by-poachers-in-the-worlds-oldest-rainforest).
Misbehaving humans have invaded all over the world. It’s extremely hard to find a place nowadays where you can’t step in someone’s used toilet paper if you are heading off to see an outcropping or lovely view. Just ask anyone who braves the Conundrum Hot Springs in the high country not far from my house (http://www.cpr.org/news/story/conundrum-hot-springs-human-waste-problem.)
I can’t speak for anyone else but the idea of having to hike through a fog of foul odors to go sit in a hot springs isn’t attractive. Besides, if the wind blows the wrong way, that will definitely change your experience of being out in the clear, cool night air. There is very little of that left to begin with given global warming and pollution, and what there is left of it smells increasingly like an open sewer.
That’s Not All
I used to buy issues of NatGeo which showed the world’s last great places. At one time I thought about traveling to them. That’s the problem. They are already overrun. In precisely the same way that being listed in Lonely Planet turns your cute little hidey hole, out-of-the-way Perfect Place into a drunken frat house, highlighting what is left, and last, is the best way to ruin it forever. I use Lonely Planet for a great many things but places to stay aren’t among them. It only takes one very long night of screaming loud beer pong until 5 am to put you off ever using another Lonely Planet spot. Lonely? Hardly. More like Grand Central Station for idiots, a**holes and fat fratboys who badly need a bullet in one butt cheek.
This is the same knee-jerk compulsion that drives uber-morons who see a cute photo of a rare animal on line, says “I have to have me one,” and creates a demand. Horrendously poor tribal people decimate the population in their country, people get the animal, it’s hugely inconvenient, they dump it, it dies. NEXT. The animal is now nearly extinct just because social media morons have decided they hadda have one. We did this with feathers in the late 1800s and 1900s, we’re doing it with butterfly collecting, the Chinese appetite for certain indigenous Indonesian birds is swiftly wiping out species in the one of the last, great places on earth. For now, and not for long https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/long-reads/article/2127802/why-chinese-demand-red-ivory-dooms-helmeted. I could go on for hours and hours and hours. It’s endless. And that’s part of the tragedy.
“I want one” is the new meme for how we kill animals because we want them for points, not for pets, with all the attendant life-long responsibilities that go with them https://www.mirror.co.uk/tech/endangered-exotic-animals-sold-facebook-7494826. We get pissed off when a wild animal that WE secured bites us, escapes, does what it naturally does, then we destroy it for not talking to us like they do in Disney movies. How dare they. The greed, selfishness and pure irresponsibility just boggle the mind. Mini horses, sun bears, baby goats. Buy one, get bored, kill it off by dumping it in the wild or tossing it into a rescue center. It’s no different than buying a puppy because you saw it on television, and you want to be cool like the stars on television. The puppy grows up, it’s not magically trained like the ones on TV, so you dump it. It is, of course, the dog’s fault, not yours. It’s the mini-horse’s fault for dumping on your carpet, not yours for expecting a horse to be housebroken.
When mini-pigs were all the rage, Facebook filled with morons who took photos of their baby pigs, ripped from their mother’s nipples far too young, and who were desperately pushing at the bellies of their Labadors seeking milk. The posters said, “My pig is massaging my dog.” NO YOU DIMWIT. That piglet is starving, and desperate for its mother. Then the dimwit discovers that said pig isn’t a mini after all, but a full grown massive animal that he can’t possibly support. Dump it. Of course. It’s the pig’s fault. The ignorant abuse of animals takes the breath away. All because some ad company featured a mini pig being walked by a couple. I want one.
Want another example? Research what happened with released Burmese pythons in the Florida everglades. It simply boggles the mind.
Welcome to My Bedroom
Back in 2013 when I climbed Kilimanjaro, one of the places I visited (and NO, I am not going to list it here) was a very remote safari location. Even so, the day I was out with a guide to visit the herds, the discovery of a sleeping leopard in a tree drew Jeeps from miles around. In this particular case, we could only have five Jeeps under the tree at at time, but you get my drift. The poor damned animals have no peace. Imagine having hundreds if not thousands of people driving through your bedroom to watch you snore, blasting polluted exhaust from all those vehicles into your lungs, while also pausing to dump litter and drop a stinking dump in your backyard. And then decorating your hunting ground with cute little flapping pieces of white toilet paper in all directions.
We have successfully wiped out hundreds of salmon species throughout the Pacific Northwest and the world through overforestation, dams, overfishing. Then we poison the waters by dumping out meds into the toilet. One of the results is that vast orca populations are starving to death. Did you happen to catch the story about Taliquah, the orca mother who pushed her dead baby more than 1,000 miles?https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/08/orcas-killer-whales-endangered-dying-washington. That calf was the first in three years in that pod. They are starving to death. Not only that, the Navy blasts its ordinance in the water, which explodes their brains. How thoughtful we are. Thanks to us. Thanks to our greed. Soon there will be no orcas. Of course, this Administration recently removed all protection from whales and sea turtles. Of course they did. Of course they did. There is a big push to put in Pebble Mine in Alaska right where the last of the Pacific salmon spawn. Of course there is. https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2018-2-march-april/grapple/pebble-mine-threatens-alaska-salmon-bristol-bay.
This is who we are. This is what we do.
If you have not yet come to the understanding that animals talk (Beyond Words, Dr. Carl Safina), emote, communicate, grieve, and have a vast range of capabilities (and please, this includes ALL fish, including your pet goldfish — please read What a Fish Knows) then, please, you have some reading to do. Even trees talk. They cooperate, raise their young and feed each other. Didn’t know that? They also share nitrogen and resources across tree species. Didn’t know that? (please see The Hidden Life of Trees)Well, then, welcome to the great planet Earth, about which most of us know absolutely nothing. Unfortunately, by the time we’ve figured out how magical this heavenly place truly is, there will be nothing left. Not only that we are losing the symphony of birds and insects (MANY THANKS MONSANTO) through super crops and forest devastation, among other reasons (Please see The Great Animal Orchestra)
This is a rant. You’re damned right this is rant. Because we are losing the fight. In many places that fight has already been lost in our lifetimes.
On one hand I am glad to see people travel. It’s educational, life changing and I’m all for it. On the other hand I despise that we see wildlife as endlessly available, expendable and inconvenient. I also despise drunken a**holes who get out of their cars and taunt bison (https://wgntv.com/2018/08/04/oregon-man-arrested-after-video-shows-bison-taunted-at-yellowstone-national-park/) and other supremely stupid stunts that put animals at risk. As for Mr. Pendleton, Oregon, I am VERY sorry that bison didn’t introduce you to your lower intestines. But then the Park Service would have had to shoot the bison. For being incited to riot by an idiot.
Also on the other hand, if people can’t learn to act like potty-trained, halfway-educated human beings, then frankly the world would be vastly better served if they stayed home and continued being a**holes in their own back yards. If I sound like an elitist jerk, you’re damned right. I would be hard-pressed to disagree when it comes to animals and beautiful places. I am an elitist jerk when it comes to this topic. Because my heart is breaking for the world we inhabit and what we are doing to it every second of every day.
Here’s the problem in my own back yard for example: people who take over animal habitat and insist on living in or wandering near while wild animals hunt and eat get mightily pissed off when said animal eats Fluffy. Or a bear gets in the house or knocks over garbage cans. Or attacks them while they run on mountain paths right in the midst of cougar country. The high country is not a goddamned city suburb.
I’m with the cougar.
What ends up happening is that the cougar gets killed, the bears get shot, and people continue to take over more and more territory which is prime hunting ground for hungry animals who are losing habitat-especially with climate change. The world is on fire and so are the animals that live in those woods. This is on us.
We are taking away habitat at an appalling rate and then blaming animals who are desperately hungry for getting pissed off at us for our theft.
This is happening in India where the population insists on building villages in the middle of well-known elephant traveling and foraging territory, then they kill, maim and wipe out these very elephants for doing what they have done for centuries (https://socialdocumentary.net/exhibit/Annette_Bonnier/3347).
I’m with the elephants.
Kenyans are now poisoning predatory animals for killing their livestock, after moving further and further into the predator’s territory. Not only has this completely poisoned the land as well as killed off the lions, it has found its way into the ecosystem and is now poisoning people (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/08/poisoning-africa-kenya-maasai-pesticides-lions-poachers-conservationists/).
I’m frankly not a fan of the Maasai. They still forcefully circumcise their women, and women are worth vastly less than a half starved goat. If you take a camel ride through boma country for seven days as I have done twice in Tanzania, you will see why giraffes and every other creature are nearly extinct. No acacia trees, no water, no nothing. After a while, no tourists there either because there’s not going to be an animal left to animate your Facebook feed. Nada. Except goats and cows and sheep on the increasingly arid, desert-like land. Now they’re killing off their own kind by poisoning the entire biosphere.(https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2018/08/poisoning-africa-kenya-maasai-pesticides-lions-poachers-conservationists).
Mother Nature believes in karma.
I’ve seen videos of baby elephants set on fire. As someone who has massaged, worked with and come to adore ellies, it’s a good thing I wasn’t there with a automatic machine gun. I cannot get that video out of my brain. I’ve seen photos of African men kicking a baby ellie in the head as they steal it from the terrified mother to sell it to a foreign zoo. It’s a good thing I wasn’t there with a billy club. More than one mammal would be reeling from a head wound.
Then of course we have all the BillyBob Trumpdump jerkoff big game hunters, but that’s a whole other issue. There’s a reason why a goodly portion of us cheer mightily when one of them gets gored to death or crushed or, even better, eviscerated. How do you like hunting now, as you lie bleeding to death, just as you yourself have done to hundreds of other increasingly rare creatures, you monumentally evil cretin?
I’m with the predators.
I traveled to the Galapagos years ago, and while there learned far more about the damage being done to these delicate, ancient ecosystems than I ever wanted to know. Not only does the government allow vastly more ships and tourist boats into the area than it publicly says are allowed, the boats and fishermen dump sewage into the once-pristine waters. Every boat carrying people that moors or lands often also carries insects, animals (dogs, rats, goats) and predators that eat the extraordinary species that live there. Without any kind of thoughtful management, the Galapagos will end up being just another bunch of rocks onto which Hilton can plan to put another butt-ugly hotel for the bored uber-rich. No more swimming iguanas or flightless cormorants. It IS coming. Just a matter of time. The Galapagos aren’t alone by any means. (https://www.popsci.com/repelling-invaders)
Don’t Get Me Wrong
I really want people to travel to learn. I really want people to see what the Earth has to offer. I want people to see, feel, explore and see the mind-numbing beauty of this world. In every way I want people to be transformed by the Earth’s last exquisite spaces and places. I want very much for people to be so affected by the Earth’s magnificence that they become deeply committed to protecting Her, keeping Her clean, and fighting corporate greed and political grifters who would carve Her up for the highest bidder. Which is precisely what’s happening in American and all over the world. Even the Russians understand the importance of pristine wilderness and have taken powerful steps to preserve theirs, to their credit. (https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/01/russia-nature-reserves-year-ecology/) Not like us. We are selling ours off. We already have sold ours off, huge big pieces of it, courtesy the current Administration. The South African government is rife with corruption, with the last of the rhinos taking the hit for their greed (https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/01/wildlife-watch-rhino-poaching-crisis-continues-south-africa/).
We were given Heaven. And we are, frankly, crapping all over it. Shooting and trapping and killing off what is precious and worth keeping and viewing and caring about. The stories are endless and as varied as the crimes we commit against each other on this increasingly overcrowded planet.
For money. For Instagram likes. For Facebook points. This is how we treat Heaven.
Far too many people treat these very sacred spaces like open sewer systems, landfills and dumps. This isn’t DisneyWorld where a kid in a costume pads around someone’s fat ass and cleans up the crap that they can’t seem to hold onto until they reach a trash can.
Grow the f**k up. Pick up after yourself. Take a poop bag for crying out loud. Act like an adult who grew up with plumbing. If you wouldn’t shit in your own front yard, then kindly don’t shit in everyone else’s. If you wouldn’t go next door and kill your neighbor’s dog in order to collect his tail for your trophy collection, then respect what is left. And there is increasingly less left of ALL of it.
On a humorous note about pooping, we Coloradans thought this was just a local issue (https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/bjvnam/the-mad-pooper-is-terrorizing-a-town-with-her-turds-vgtrn) but unfortunately, it’s world wide. Just take a walk through any popular campsite in the high country. But be sure your clean your boot cleats afterwards. It’s worse than walking through Cesar Milan’s back yard.
Look. I’m not a professional conservationist. I am, however, passionate about what we were given: a paradise. Or, what’s left of it at least. We are overrunning, ruining, trashing and shitting all over what’s left. I’m not exactly a fan of “populating Deep Space,” whereby we can deliver the same insults to brand new worlds which have, to date, largely been left alone. I’m sure the Intergalactic Commission of Space Peoples are VERY happy we haven’t shown up yet. Actually we’re going to have a damned hard time maneuvering our way through the billions of tons of space trash sh*t that we have left floating in our upper atmosphere just to get to outer space anymore.
This is what we do. This is us.
If you want a fine, rich education that may well change how you see the world and what is in it, or at least the little we have left, I would recommend that you invest a bit of reading time in anything that the great conservationist Dr. Carl Safina has written on the topic. That small investment in understanding what is sacred and worth saving might well change your mind about everything you know about the world, our animals, how we have treated it. You might even want to get involved with his organization, which is deeply committed to preserving what is beautiful http://carlsafina.org/. Those books changed my life, my perspective and my commitment even more than I already had been. And that was a lot.
We as a species are lousy stewards of what we already have. All anyone has to do is look at the beaches off the coast of the Dominican Republic lately. Please see if you can find a place to stick your umbrella and bust open your Corona:
Lovely isn’t it? well, better enjoy THIS beach now because not long from sandy beaches will be a thing of the past. Why? Because we are running out of sand. Yah. That’s one of the latest disasters: https://www.businessinsider.com/world-running-out-sand-resources-concrete-2018-6. Pretty soon we won’t be able to surf, sun, or do much of anything close the ocean because there is now a black market for the world’s sand. Why? for concrete. Where? Anywhere there are trees, grass, valleys, birds, streams. We wouldn’t want any of those, now would we? Not while we have developers. You ask anyone who has lived in a pretty place long enough (I speak from forty years and five million people in Colorado, where it’s getting damned hard to find an acre of grass to feed a horse these days).
As for our future summer vacations, perhaps we can find a filthy, sewage-covered rock from which we can gaze out over the acres and acres of garbage. I’m sure everyone will enjoy the view. You sure as hell won’t be able to fish because soon there will be vastly more plastic in the ocean than fish (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/01/20/by-2050-there-will-be-more-plastic-than-fish-in-the-worlds-oceans-study-says/?utm_term=.c70f6da1da5e). Please enjoy chowing down on a nice slice of someone else’s toothbrush, which by the way, most recently choked an albatross to death, an albatross that was trying to feed its young. The albatrosses not murdered by fishing long lines. Nesting on archipelagos that are fast disappearing under the sea. Albatrosses being eaten alive by mice brought there by people traveling the sea. A sea that is warming so fast that those salmon that are left in it will die because it’s too damned warm.
This is us. We are pigs. I have no other way to put it. Not all of us. But far too many. The ones who care are vastly drowned out by the ones who don’t. As long as there is money to be made, we will continue to lose what is lovely, worth having, worth protecting, and worth viewing respectfully at a distance.
Like grizzly bears.
We don’t deserve what was given us.
Teddy Roosevelt said,
Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.
From our own First Nation:
When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
This is a rant. Because we are swiftly losing everything that is precious, every gift we were given to protect, admire and value. In our headlong rush for the almighty dollar, the fleeting fickle attention of people online who could care less about it, we are trashing Heaven. And unfortunately, we are very, very good at it.
Your children’s children will have nothing left but stinking cities and sewage- filled streets.
Is it overwhelming? Of course it is. There are days I have to turn my radio and TV off because I cannot stand to see more degradation, more viciousness, more greed, more news from this Administration. Is it immensely defeating? Of course is. However, in the same way that losing 100 lbs begins with an ounce at a time, fighting the forces of greed takes time, dedication and focus. Is our world worth it?
You choose. I think so. Instead of buying any of those thousands upon thousands of elephant and rhino figurines that you can get at any store, how about putting those pennies towards protection? You may not be able to get out and fight, but your dimes can. Your dollars and dimes can also go towards dumping those who suck dollars out of the oil and gas greed machines, who are now planning to drill into the last, vast wildernesses. Even Russia got that message. Some areas need to be left the hell alone.
Yah. This is a rant. Because I care passionately and deeply. Because I have seen it. Because it is real. And because if we don’t vote the bastards out, get active, and make fundamental changes in how we treat the gifts that are our heritage and sacred duty to protect, there really will be absolutely nothing left except piles of worthless paper that have dead Presidents stamped on them.