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Call of the Wild

by on February 19, 2019

Call of the Wild

by Marco M. Pardi

The way to final freedom is within thy SELF.”

THE BOOK OF THE GOLDEN PRECEPTS.

Ascribed to ancient Buddhism.

All comments are welcome and will receive a response.

As I was borrowing Jack London’s famous title for this piece I flashed on a memory of an advertisement that ran years ago. A liquor distiller displayed a bottle of bourbon alongside a basket out of which were peering a litter of Siberian Husky puppies. The banner read, Call of the Mild. I thought that a very effective ad. You take the bourbon, I’ll take the puppies.

Of course, my mind immediately seized on the seeming contrast of wild and mild. Throughout my teens I was keenly interested in studying and understanding the behavior, indeed the world view, of non-human animals in the wild. Even then it seemed to me there were deep lessons for humanity there, but like daydreamers in classrooms we were too preoccupied with our own fantasies and self appointed status. While the Roswell “incident” spurred a quickly growing literature and film industry in “science fiction”, showcasing imaginary intelligent life elsewhere I felt we were ignoring a multitude of intelligent societies all around us because we were too unintelligent to recognize intelligence.

Just as I think we misuse the concept intelligence by vastly underestimating its forms and breadth, I think we misuse the word wild by misunderstanding its rules. We often read of wild parties, wild rides, and etc. with the implication the events were chaotic, unpredictable, even dangerously foolish. But anyone who has spent time observing non-human animals can attest there is nothing like that in “the wild”. Even play behavior is a form of varied training for skills necessary throughout later life.

So, what do we mean by wild? The easy, and most common answer is a plant or animal which has not been selectively bred over generations by humans to produce traits and behaviors desired by humans; they are not domesticated. In fact, many such domesticated species, especially animal, would not survive long after the withdrawal of human support; they have become dependent on humans. This is especially apparent in cases of large populations such as factory farmed animals. Were they to be released, the numbers vastly exceeding the available forage would doom most to starvation, many to malnutrition based disease, and a hardy very few to a limited lifespan.

What’s the take-away from all this? Not only is the human population nearing 8 billion and growing by the day, it is increasingly concentrated in urban centers which, in terms of natural support, are utter wastelands. True, rooftop gardens are gaining in popularity, and vacant urban lots are being exploited as neighborhood vegetable gardens. But these are paltry efforts in the face of oncoming climate change which will severely alter the distribution of rainfall and temperatures appropriate to the growing of food as we know it. Complicating things still further is the remarkable shift to living along seacoasts, a pleasing locale for now but soon to be taken back by the seas, as we already can measure. Clean air, food and water, not oil and gas, are the ultimate resources. As expanding concentrations of humans pour more pollutants into the air, land, and water and as the consequent climate change alters or destroys the usefulness of these resources we will increasingly see large populations migrating to those remaining areas assumed to still have useful resources. A primary justification for the Viet-Nam war was the Domino Theory, the idea that if Viet-Nam fell to the communists neighboring countries would soon follow. When Laos and Cambodia fell to the Pathet-Lao and the Kmer-Rouge the war hawks claimed vindication. Yet, it was not the fall of South Viet-Nam which brought those about; it was the bombing of the farmlands and paddies west of the Mekong river which ruined the land and drove the starving rural populations into the urban centers where there was little to no food to share with the populations already there. Did we learn from this? Look at Iraq, Syria, South Sudan, and Yemen for your answers. Ask the people of Europe how they feel about the influx of migrants looking only to feed their families. Look a bit further back. Czarist Russia did not defeat Napoleon’s armies by force of arms. As the armies swept across Europe, living off the land, they marched deep toward Moscow only to find themselves on a burnt landscape walking among the rotting carcasses of livestock that could not be moved. In their retreat the Russians implemented a Scorched Earth policy. French numbers plummeted through starvation and disease. A basic look at “wild” populations would have brought home the message: Never let your numbers exceed their resources.

I’m not saying non-human animal populations consciously meter their numbers to their food resources. Perhaps they do, perhaps not. I am saying that those population numbers vary in direct relation to available food. Long before general malnutrition affects the population the excess young adults are pushed out and, in some cases, predators take the old, the sick, and the excess young. The only serious predator humans have is other humans. And these other humans have agendas far beyond simple access to resources. Christians in particular seem to feel they have a divine mandate. But the mandate has morphed from the biblical “being a good steward” to the materialist “dominion over Nature”. That these neo-materialists seem to have not even a rudimentary understanding of Nature makes no difference to their inexorable march toward their own Moscow. They will reap a scorched Earth, unfortunately taking us along in the process.

Our growing urban centers, along with their sprawling suburbs, are resource parasites. In order to meet the growing demand for food our farmlands are increasingly becoming chemical beds of toxic pesticides and fertilizers, our factory meat production consumes 85% of the antibiotics in this country. These pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, and animals wastes run off into our waters including our aquifers. The Mississippi river delta spills out into an exponentially growing Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The fastest growing population there is a new species: oil drilling rigs.

There is renewed interest in terraforming other planets, such as Mars. This is just a 21st century version of “Go West, young man.” It is highly improbable, if not impossible that significant colonization of another planet can mitigate the disaster developing here. But if humans intend to survive on this planet they must immediately address what we must now call a World Emergency. Unlike the “National emergency” now declared by the Republican regime in its effort to build a monument to Trump, this emergency is real. We must take steps to reduce population growth, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and free ourselves from the oligarchs and the theocrats who dominate our societies, enslave the people financially and spiritually, and destroy the planet. We should decentralize our cities into manageable villages connected by electric transit. We should re-examine our educational system in order to stress ecology, ethology, and critical thinking beginning in the primary school system. We should educate and develop a workforce competent to efficiently produce renewable energy, free of fossil fuels. We need to break free of our own “domestication” which has entrapped us into narrow and limited thinking, doing the same things over and over as we obey the bidding of our masters. We need to stop imagining some future intervention that will save us, and get to work now. We need to get wild.

Oh, and if you read my column you should comment. We can’t converse if I do all the talking.

One day in class a particularly surly student challenged me with, If chimps are so smart, how come they don’t have cell phones? An ethological answer would have been too easy, and probably beyond his grasp. I simply answered, If humans are so smart, why do they have nuclear weapons?

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10 Comments
  1. Julie permalink

    Hi Marco, I actually just posted a comment here and for some reason it didn’t post and disappeared, maybe I was timed out? Anyway I’ll try and remember what I said and do over.

    I think I may have mentioned about over population on a previous comment because it is definately a huge issue and has a snowball effect on so many things. I feel in that “moving forward and being progressive” this can be questionable, as I wonder whether it’s humans just being competitive as there often seems like a whole lot of resources being used for not much gain, I also suspect it’s about giving people jobs too. For example, I work for a large government organisation and we are now onto our 3rd data base system since I have been there (18 years), there seems to be so much more importance about how things look as opposed to practicality, their focus in creating so much detail within the organisation that my colleagues and myself struggle to keep up, this all seems to be politically motivated. We seem to be in an era where simplicity doesn’t exist, everything requires so much detail, which I feel creates unnecessary stress for lots of people. I personally feel we need to bring back more simple ways to do things and live, but I can’t see this in my lifetime.

    Maybe life is all about cycles and in many ways we have come so far, especially in relation to communication and medical care to name a few, however the planet is suffering due to the way we live and population levels, I wonder whether globalisation has impacted negatively with this? I really like your thoughts about smaller villages, electric transit, definately an updated education system and attitudes/education in workplace environments.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts Marco and writing yet another great piece of writing, Julie

    Like

    • Julie. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, and for the effort you put into posting them. Your comment about giving people jobs reminded me of the times I have wandered through “low end” stores and wondered how the row after row of junky stuff ever got made in the first place, much less bought by anyone.

      Let’s carry that thought about villages further and insist that more companies transition to telecommuting. Numerous studies have shown telecommuting improves productivity, morale, and worker retention. It also drastically cuts air pollution from clogged freeways, heat reflecting parking lots, ever increasing demands for fuel, and even reduces the worker’s costs for child care. This is a simple, not a drastic solution. But without sufficient demand there will be no solution.

      Thanks again for your valued participation.

      Like

      • Julie permalink

        Oh yes the junk shops – all that wasted junk that ends up as landfill, but China keeps pumping out this rubbish to make money and feed consumerism. Having travelled through European villages on a few different holidays and eating their beautiful fresh food and enjoying gorgeous surroundings really inspired me to see how himans can live in a clean, social way – something I’ll never forget

        Like

  2. From Ray: Great blog as always and straight to the heart – this should be etched/engraved/written everywhere…”Clean air, food and water, not oil and gas, are the ultimate resources.”

    Like

  3. Thank you, Ray. You live by your word, as so few actually do, so I value your thoughts and input.

    Like

  4. Yes, Julie. I also much preferred the out of the way places in villages. In cities if I heard English I walked the other way.

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  5. I agree that there’s a lot to be discouraged by when you look around, read the news, and consider how parasitic humans are. I allow myself to get upset enough to do what is in my power to change my ways while fitting into society (within normal limits). Human state of affairs didn’t get this way overnight, and it will take more than my lifetime to reverse our impact on the planet – but I am still optimistic that our technological innovations and current sociopolitical unrest may be the beginning of a pendulum swing for the better. I think only time will tell; a lot can change in 200 years.

    Like

    • Thank you, Ellie. Of course, we hope you are right. And in the meantime we all need to do what we can. This will mean re-examining the current power structure and making appropriate changes.

      Like

  6. My computer hates me; I had to fight it to be able to read this most excellent offering, and leaving my thoughts behind is proving to be equally difficult. Third time’s the charm, I hope.

    I have long thought of you as a bit of a “wild man”, in the best possible sense, of course. You are more aware of your environment, both immediate and global, than anyone I know. Your empathy and appreciation of the non-human animals that share it with you are a part of what makes you so special to those of us who know you.

    Just days ago, I saw a television piece on the “year with no summer”, when the eruption of a volcano Indochina (?) caused weather conditions so severe that it affected plant growth as far away as Europe. Crops died or didn’t grow, people and animals starved. I can’t help but think this is what’s in store for all of us if things don’t change. Climate deniers are this century’s worst fools, at best. The current regime seems determined to strip this world of all its remaining assets for its own benefit. There’s not enough to go around for this generation, much less the generations to come.

    The bottom line is, there are far too many humans on this planet. I think maybe those in power are creating the world for which the Georgia Guidestones were intended.

    Like

  7. Thank you, Rose. I will continue to strive to deserve your opinion. The dark side of me, which often predominates, suggests we will see cataclysmic changes beyond our abilities to respond. I don’t see the scale gradually tipping. I see it “suddenly” tipping.

    I do wonder about those guidestones. More people should see them. Perhaps there is a text on line.

    Like

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