I’m... I’m trying really hard to not get mad.
This is a dinosaur blog, as we all know. Obviously.
Dinosaurs are studied by paleontologists, and aid in our understanding of evolutionary biology.
So, a lot of different subjects have a place on the blog. Paleontology, the history of the Earth, evolution, and therefore, conservationism, including the current Mass Extinction event. After all, we wouldn’t understand today’s mass extinction if we didn’t heavily study the ones in the past - including the one that killed all non-avian dinosaurs.
So, that means what I’m about to say has a place on this blog.
I have a personal blog. I will not say what it is here, simply because I like to keep it relatively private for a variety of reasons.
Holy crap, my hands are actually shaking a little, but I’m going to keep going.
I am white. I know that this means I have extensive privilege and power in society. I hate that. I work hard to support a variety of causes to works to actively dismantle this power structure; in these causes, I do my very best to not speak out on issues, but rather support members of racial minorities - aka, I do not try to talk over them. I am a part of a few oppressed groups myself, and I never would want to speak for a community that I am not a part of, because I know the feeling. I simply lend my support to the community and take part in events where I live, such as lie-ins on my college campus, and protests in Chicago over what has been happening in Ferguson. Those who follow my personal are aware that I have blogged heavily about racism in America and the terrible affects of police brutality on black people, as well as other relevant issues. I know that saying #alllivesmatter is actually complete crap and misses the damn point. I am aware that I make mistakes myself and am constantly learning and growing as a person and a supporter of the POC community. I am not a perfect person, and I am affected by the power structures i am a part of, and constantly have to modify my worldview to dismantle these effects on my personality and knowledgebase.
However, I do not blog about these things here, because this blog is not about that. This blog is about dinosaurs and evolution.
Given this disclaimer, I realize I am not perfect, and I apologize for that in advance, but I have to say this.
You know what also sucks, but I hardly ever see posts about on tumblr? That’s right: climate change and the global biodiversity crisis. We are in the middle of a sixth mass extinction, or at least, there is a good chunk of data that suggests we are. There is some debate, but if we aren’t in the middle of a mass extinction, we’re definitely going to be if we don’t try and solve the problems currently going on in society.
Humans - on the whole, regardless of country, affluence, race, sexuality, gender, gender orientation, religion, mental health, physical health, education level… - are exceptionally tied into our planet’s ecology. We literally depend on it for our existence. We are a specialized species, more so than I think any of us realize. We greatly depend on our biosphere remaining stable (aka: no mass extinction) for our own survival. If an extinction occurs, we are in grave danger of going extinct, regardless of how much the population grows (I’d argue our exponential growth curve actually makes it worse).
If the planet goes to shit, we are all going to to die.
No one wants this. No one actually wants humanity to go extinct, extreme nihilism and self-loathing aside. We all like our existence. If we didn’t want the continuation of humanity, we wouldn’t be so passionate about making our society better.
Lots of things have contributed to this crisis. Deforestation, excessive expansionism and population growth, the monoculturalization of habitats both for landscaping purposes and farmland, overhunting and fishing, pollution… and of course, poaching.
Many cultures are involved in poaching for reasons that they shouldn’t be blamed for. For example, poaching in savannah-filled countries in Africa for things like rhino horn is often tied to the poverty created by the colonization of Africa by European countries and those countries’ complete destruction of the economy, society, and infrastructure of their “colonies.” And honestly, that sort of poaching - there are other ways to combat it other than blaming the poachers - because it’s not their fault that they are in that economic situation in the first place, and need to rely on the money they get from poaching in order to survive.
But the guy who poached Cecil the Lion? He was a rich white man. There is no justification for him poaching. None at all. Poaching, just the concept, is wrong. Our planet is in crisis, and organisms are dying out right and left, and no one should be contributing to it. This man had no justification for doing it that should be examined and fixed - there is no reason to let him personally off the hook and look into the issues that caused this event. He did something wrong, and he should be called out on it, and this should be used as an occasion to examine the dire situation of our planet, and to rally as a species to treat our biosphere better and with greater respect.
Yes, it’s absolutely horrible that many white people are up in arms about this and never got up in arms about the murders of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and countless others, or the fact that racism impacts the lives of POC greatly and terribly regardless of their other socioeconomic statuses. I am not denying that you have a major point.
What I’m getting at, I suppose, is that to excessively call out people for calling out the poacher - to imply that this isn’t an issue at all, or that it’s an issue that should be completely ignored - is not good either. The organisms of our planet - the ecosystem that we depend on for our own survival - they have no voice. They have no agency in our society to fight for themselves. It’s up to scientists (like myself) and activists to give them that voice. It is important to fight for our planet and our biosphere, and to continually use this occasion as a way to call out racism and hypocrisy in white people without acknowledging that what they’re saying is still a valid issue to consider is not helping your cause, it’s not helping the white people in question learn from their mistakes, and its not helping our species on the whole.
Life always bounces back. 250 million years ago 95% of all marine life and 60% of all terrestrial life died out, but we’re still here. I’m not saying this for the presence of living things on our planet.
I’m saying this for us, all of us, a very specialized species. It’s always the specialized organisms that are the first to go - they can’t cope with the changing planet and die out faster than generalists. We are not generalists. We cannot survive this. Nor can countless other species on our planet.
Caring about the lives of non-human organisms - another group that is extremely and excessively oppressed by society - does not automatically stop someone from caring about POC lives. Black lives matter. Our biosphere’s lives matter, too.
Do not overtake this issue - the fact that humans, on the whole, take much more from this planet than we need, and thus have thrown it into chaos and disarray - do not overtake this issue and belittle its importance.
Frankly, we are all doomed if you do.