And I normally don't make two posts in one day, but this New York Times article made me terribly depressed. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, an international network of campaign groups, governments, scientists and other experts, is reporting that an "extinction crisis" is underway, and that 1 in 4 mammal species are in danger of becoming extinct within our lifetime due to hunting, habitat loss, and global climate change.
For those of you who don't know me that well, I'm a huge animal lover. I grew up wanting to be a veterinarian (eventually the fact that I'm strongly allergic to cats, rabbits, and a bunch of other animals sort of forced my hand in terms of choosing a new career path), and I had a ton of different pets growing up (dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, snakes, an iguana, lizards, fish, hermit crabs, rabbits, ferrets etc.). In addition to just being a sentimental softie when it comes to animals, I really do feel like an understanding of animals and their behavior helps us to understand more thoroughly what it is to be human- learning to coexist with animals helps us to understand our own impulses, emotions, thought processes, and to understand the nonverbal connections which tie us all together. The tendency to anthropomorphize animals aside (a trap which every animal lover falls into from time to time), anyone who has spent a good deal of time with a halfway intelligent dog or other animal knows that there are a lot of emotions and thought processes which aren't just limited to the human species, and I think that understanding this fact and empathizing with animals helps us learn to have a greater appreciation of not only the natural world and our place within it, but of other people as well (if you can learn to recognize emotions and reactions in animals, it becomes easier to recognize these features in people, as well).
Heck- animals are just cool. They're an amazing and integral part of what our planet has to offer, and they ought to be treated with much more respect and admiration than what they typically receive. To believe otherwise is not only arrogant on our part as a species, but it's sad for the people who just don't get it.
Anyway, this isn't an anti-hunting or fishing rant or anything like that. I just want to make a plea to preserve and conserve our animals in terms of preventing species from becoming endangered or extinct. Animals deserve a chance to survive, and our succeeding generations deserve to have a planet that has as full and complete a complement of wildlife living within it as possible.
Here's a link to the World Wildlife Fund if you want to help the animals out.