Editor's Page 00-08-1987
An editorial reflecting an issue much concerned with the protection and survival of rare breeds and species.
Editor's Page by Christopher Long
Personally I don't think anyone ever reads this page. I never read editorials and I don't see why anyone else should either. It's bad enough that megalomaniac editors should be allowed to decide what does or doesn't appear in print and a lot worse that they then insist on a whole page to themselves as well.
One individual who would agree wholeheartedly with these sentiments is the cockerel pictured on my right. To be honest he shouldn't be here at all. He really belongs on page 65 where Ros Drinkwater firmly intended him as just one example of Britain's rare, original domesticated animals. Bored with ruling the roost among assorted cows, pigs, sheep and rabbits, he promoted himself to this page where I am pleased to see him.
And there's a serious point behind all this which concerns a lot more than mere nostalgia for quaint breeds and the rural scene of previous centuries. It can be summed up in two well-worn maxims with a solid Victorian ring to them: "If it works, don't mend it" and "Don't throw anything away unless you're sure sure you'll never need it".
Unfortunately we have been rather too successful at mending things that already work well and throwing away or destroying things we think we'll never need again. We could be making dreadful mistakes.
Agreed, we don't really need hedges, marshlands, Snow Leopards or even the rooster on this page. We don't really need obscure varieties of orchid or the peat bogs of Ireland. After all, we no longer survive by picking berries from hedgerows and our survival isn't dependent on catching geese on the Essex marshes. Few of us ever see a Snow Leopard and will never miss him if he goes. The rooster has been superseded by a cunning, cross-bred chicken that produces better meat just like our multi-purpose cows, sheep and pigs. Now that we've discovered coal, oil and gas, why should we be worried about the peat bogs of Ireland? Even these work well as fuels, but of course we need to 'mend' the system and invent nuclear energy.
The one thing we have in common with all other living things on this planet is a duty and an all-consuming determination to survive. But our survival is dependent upon our ability to adapt to changing circumstances and to adapt our surrounding circumstances to our most urgent needs.
Unlike our grandparents who rolled up bits of string because they just might come in useful, we have forgotten just how useful our fellow creatures and surrounding environment might be to us one day. Who knows when we might urgently require the unique genetic qualities of original species in order to produce new hybrids of plants with specific medicinal or agricultural benefits? How can we be sure that we won't discover that particular birds can be far more effective at controlling insect pests than the poisonous chemicals which find their way into our drinking water and may already be insidiously threatening our survival?
This month's issue of World Magazine contains an article on the Monk Seal which is probably Europe's rarest and most threatened mammal. We may feel that his imminent extinction would be tragic especially since he's such a lovable-looking creature.
Ironically, researchers are now quite convinced that dolphins, whales, seals, salmon, eels and many other species use a highly sophisticated navigation system which is way beyond our most sophisticated techniques and which may provide us with invaluable methods of navigating ourselves more safely and successfully on land, sea and even through space. This research project may take ten years to complete.
But unless urgent multi-national action is taken now the Monk Seal could well join the Dodo, the Great Auk and untold other species which will tell us nothing from beyond the grave and leave us very much the poorer for their absence.
© (1987) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
The text and graphical content of this and linked documents are the copyright of their author and or creator and site designer, Christopher Long, unless otherwise stated. No publication, reproduction or exploitation of this material may be made in any form prior to clear written agreement of terms with the author or his agents.