Another scientist talking nonsenseIn a nutshell Dr Robbie Park says "that pet dogs have an ecological pawprint equal to the footprint of 100 million humans." His solution? Eat the dogs. I point out that about 100 million humans are added to the planet every year. The real problem is too many humans, not too many dogs. I say that there is a solution which reduces the footprint of each human and restores dogs to their natural status of having no ecological pawprint. I say: "feed dead humans to the dogs."Sam (my Labrador) and I caught a segment of CBC's "The Current" (22 June 2015) while we were taking a tea break. Some "climate physicist from London" called Robbie Park was advocating that we should eat our dogs, or at least get rid of them.
Sam gave me a pained look and a mournful sigh. Not that he feared for his life, After all, Sam and I had helped each other write our respective Wills. He knew that after I karked it, I wanted to be cut into conveniently-sized portions to fed the neighbourhood dogs. It's not about climate change, more about one last expression of my love for dogs and ecology. I will then have the final privilege of growing a shrub or a tree when they do their doggy-dumps in the woods.
Rather, Sam's look welled from the deep despair of listening to yet another scientist advocating transparent nonsense. I guess it's a surefire way to highjack electromagnetic waves radiating from CBC transmitters. At this point, I should disclose that I'm also a scientist and have taught and published in a range of disciplines; oceanography, physics, geophysics, sports science, mathematics, fluid mechanics, computational science and marine ecology. In the judgment of this aged-scientist, I'd say that Robbie Park seems to be suffering from citification.
Citification is a lifestyle disease that happens when people grow up in cities that are not fit for a dog. The only cure is to turn off all electronic gizmo's and remove the victim to a safe location in the wilderness. After puberty the disease becomes incurable. Sadly, due to the lack of wilderness, the disease has become yet another plague of London. We might, nevertheless, consider an emergency evacuation to the Australian Outback where Robbie Park can at least be made comfortable, and feed the dingo's.
Man-and-dog have co-evolved as two parts of the same team for a long time. A lesson learned long ago, when I was a boy hunting the wild boar. Boys, men and dogs gather in the thick New Zealand bush, some place with recent rootings. We're off. Dogs have the scent. Leap high into the bracken. Crash down. Leap again. Men and boys follow. Now the bush thins. The dogs use their speed advantage. No heart pumps stronger than a dog on the chase. Pig bailed on a slope at the head of the gully. Men catch up, old dogs for hard trails; the boys behind, sweating and heaving. Pig kicks off a dog, gores another, breaks downhill. Mac leaps high. Pivots on a punga stump like a soccer player doing a bicycle kick. The trusty 303 fires. Mr Pig drops in his tracks.
Dogs circle. Mac tosses them some offal. They don't ask much, these glorious, wonderful animals. No whining when the wounds are stitched.
This story has been passed from men to boys since time immemorial. Now the cycle is broken. I am grateful that citified people can read a book by Pat Shipman to at least obtain an academic knowledge of what it is to be a man-and-a-dog.
The main issue, raised by Robbie Park, is about reducing human impact by eating lower on the food chain. To put it simply, Robbie thinks we can solve the problem by becoming vegans and doing without pets.
Reducing impact by forcing us to all be more "efficient" is not a solution. It doesn't matter if we become more efficient at "production" or "consumption". Increasing efficiency causes increased ecological impact unless we stop population growth, reverse it. Some explanation is required.
In the 1960's, Norman Borlaug applied technologies that are an iconic example of making production more efficient. Does any right-thinking person really believe that human impact on the planet has gone down since then?No, the extra production can be credited with adding more billions of people and much, much more impact upon the planet.
Borlaug was doing humanitarian triage by transferring western technologies to poor people. Rightly so. But he lamented that the problem would not be solved so long as population grew.
The other false argument is that environmental impacts are reduced by reducing each person's foot print. Robbie Park, himself, gives us an excellent example of why this is wrong. As he points out, Asian's are more inclined to eat a dog than have it as a pet. That is because Asia has been grossly overpopulated for a long time. Privation made them eaters of rice and dangerous to dogs.
I'd say: "If a city isn't fit for a dog then it isn't fit for a person.
There are more formal ways to put it but not without first going through a good deal of science and mathematics. (Something I would be pleased to do, some other time.) For now I put the matter without proper context. Efficiency gains are always limited: First by the laws of physics and ecology. Second by the extent that privation can be tolerated.
Pat Shipman was absolutely correct to point out that only stopping, then reversing, the growth of human population will reduce the human impact upon this planet.
The matter deserved serious discussion. Instead it was sabbotaged by a spectacular allusion to China's "one child policy".
There is so much more to the issue. I limit myself to one point. If women were educated, free, and had reasonable access to contraception then fertility would immediately fall and solve the problem.
Consider Iran. The birthrate was high. After the war with Iraq was finished, the Ayatolla realized that he was going to have a problem on his hands --- now that surplus progeny could no longer be used to clear minefields. He allowed women access to birth control. Fertility fell fast. Now, Iran is gearing up for major conflict with his Sunni neighbours. Access to birth control is denied. If a women protests then she is tortured and sent to jail for 12 years!
Saudi Arabia, our so called ally, drives women to breed.
In Canada, the powers that be prefer to use inducements.
Then there is the Pope and all his men.