High School English Teacher & Six-Legged Giant

I happened to recently reconnect with my wonderful high school English teacher from long ago in Los Angeles, or more specifically, the Valley.  Yes, I admit it, I’m a southern to northern California transplant, but that was 45 years ago – I’m a Santa Cruz old-timer at this point.  Mr. Josephs & I exchanged a number of satisfying emails touching on highlights of our lives since then – it was a lesson in neural pathways to realize how detailed some memories are from those teenage times, & also, how often I’ve recalled his Be Concise writing mantra.  I promise to keep your mantra in mind, Emory!

Turns out too that our interests still align.  Science, politics, travel, evolution.  He sent me 

Ball's Pyramid in the Tasman sea is located 19 kilometers from Lord Howe Island east of Australia.

a link to this story about an unlikely-to-be-appreciated creature found living on this seemingly inhabitable rock over on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.  I decided this story was a perfect topic for the first post of this evolution-minded primate.  Be sure to watch the video!  Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway, Hides For 80 Years : Krulwich Wonders… : NPR.

Here’s the basic story:  “A bunch of black rats almost wiped out a bunch of gigantic bugs on a little island far, far away from most of us. A few dedicated scientists, passionate about biological diversity, risked their lives to keep the bugs going. For the bugs to get their homes and their future back doesn’t depend on scientists anymore. They’ve done their job. Now it’s up to the folks on [neighboring] Lord Howe Island”, the bugs’ original home, where the dedicated scientists are advocating for a return of rescued creatures.

Aside from the obvious challenge of reintroducing these very large bugs into a human community that is not currently accustomed to living with them, the story raises, for me, the question of the extinction aspect of evolution & how we human primates, often passionately, approach biological diversity.  We’re all for it – I can’t think of anyone who advocates against biodiversity & for extinction (unless you count the oil companies & their shareholders who have benefited mightily from the last major extinction event 65 million years ago).  Sure, there are many examples where we neglect to consider how human actions impact our planet & the other creatures we share it with, & there’s clear evidence that life on earth is entering another major extinction phase caused not by an asteroid or poisonous gas but by one species – us.  But is that BAD?  Is extinction bad?

It seems to me, in human thinking, extinction represents death whereas evolution represents life.  We know there is a natural cycle of life & death for all living things on earth, but our conscious minds want to deny death, ergo, we don’t like extinction.  It’s probably worth challenging ourselves about this notion.

So, thanks again to my high school English teacher for the links, even though I fear his profession may be another life form doomed for extinction.  But that’s a topic for another day.

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3 Responses to High School English Teacher & Six-Legged Giant

  1. Chris says:

    Thanks for a great contrarian idea to mull over.
    Thinking outside the box is always difficult but your prompt — to consider extinction as part of the natural order — will refresh some of my under-stimulated neural pathways. Keep up the good work.

  2. liveoaklinda says:

    I’m not sure this changes my ideas about extinction, but worth a look: “How Biodiversity Keeps Earth Alive”: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-biodiversity-keeps-earth-alive

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