Following in the Footsteps of the Dinosaurs
Following in the Footsteps of the Dinosaurs
Oliver T. Spedding
There are myriad threats facing the human being’s continued existence on earth. The most prominent and most emotionally charged of these threats at present is global warming, the result of the human beings total disregard for the environmental balance that is required for the world to exist as a stable and livable entity. Many environmental experts are of the opinion that it is already too late to reverse the global warming that has shown adequate instances of what is in store for us in the not too distant future.
There is one danger that threatens not only mankind but more directly the other species that share the world with us; the animals that we share this planet with. If we do not curb this threat it’s very likely that the animals whose existence we take for granted today will soon all have been driven into extinction and future generations will have to learn of their existence in books and museums.
When early man first made contact with other animals his sole aim, just like the other animals, was to feed himself, and as a result, all animals respected each other and followed the rules of nature and the natural food chain. The population growth of all animals, man included, grew at a pace that was natural. Whenever a particular species over-bred, the natural survival instincts of that group intervened to rectify the matter. The lemming is a typical example of this phenomenon. The planet lived comfortably within its means and its future as a livable entity was never threatened.
Then man began to dominate his fellow inhabitants. He domesticated some of them, and those that he couldn't bring under his control he began to hunt, not just for food, but for the pure pleasure of killing. Trophies representing these massacres adorned his dwellings and he viewed them with pride, even though the contests had been grossly one-sided. As time passed, man became more and more dominant, using, abusing and exploiting more and more animals and completely annihilating others to satisfy his desires. This indiscriminate annihilation of species has continued to this day, not only by conscious endeavor by human beings, but also as a direct result of their desire to reap the riches that abound in the Earth’s structure.
Until the advent of machines to do the work of domesticated animals, beasts of burden such as the donkey, the camel, the horse, the elephant and many other species, made an incredible contribution to the growth of civilization with little or no reward or recognition. The horrible fact is that these creatures were, and many still are, in reality, animal slaves. Unlike human slaves of the past though, animal slaves cannot be set free as they have become totally reliant on their human masters and cannot survive without them. There is no such thing as emotion in nature and the sole law of nature is the survival of the fittest. As previously domesticated animals are incapable of competing in the wild, their demise is assured. Although some of them are put out to pasture when their usefulness ends, the majority are simply destroyed.
Growth of the human species
Animals have always borne the cost of man's progress. It's quite true that any culture that cares for its animals will be caring in all respects. The frightening thing is that the human species continues to grow at an incredible rate while the numbers of all other animal species are steadily declining. Man's demand for a bigger share of the available land on our planet is crowding out the rest of its inhabitants and hundreds and thousands of species are now extinct or close to extinction. Future generations will see more and more animal species only in museums and, as these numbers grow, we would do well to look back on them with gratitude and respect. These creatures always gave us more than we gave them and many of them contributed greatly to the civilization that we know today.
Extinction is permanent
The predicament now facing man is how to feed the teeming billions of human beings that will double in number in only a few generations. There is simply not enough land. Land that is at present being used for animal production will soon be more valuable for crop production, so once again animals will be the losers. In a few centuries from now there won't even be room to grow sufficient crops, especially if mankind becomes vegan or vegetarian, and by then all the animals will be extinct. Add to this the devastation that global warming will inflict on the Earth, we are faced with a frightening scenario; a planet that has become too small to support its inhabitants.
At present it is not the domesticated animals that are in danger of being annihilated but the wild animals that roam the ever reducing uncultivated land. But it is inevitable that domesticated animals will eventually follow their wild cousins into extinction. The terrible fact is that extinction cannot be reversed; it’s permanent.