Sometimes I find it hard to grasp what is going on across our planet today.
Here, I don’t mean politically (although I find that hard to grasp too).
I mean in terms of people versus non-people.
The truth is, from an evolutionary perspective, our unique ability to make babies anytime, anywhere probably made sense way back in our earliest days, when our offspring were so tiny and underdeveloped compared to the robust, rough-and-ready non-human offspring being born all around us.
In other words, when we were still a participating member of the greater food chain, we were probably voted “most likely to get eaten” when we were still young. Here, it also likely made good evolutionary sense that we could make more of us right away if the ones we already had ended up on someone else’s happy hour menu.
But now that we have largely cordoned ourselves off from the other species we share this planet with, well, boy are there a lot of us! And it is a problem that is not going to go away anytime soon, but rather is projected to just get worse.
Contrast that with what one of my favorite nature mentors, Jeff Corwin, calls the members of the “100 heartbeat club” – non-human beings who number 100 or less members worldwide. [Corwin didn’t come up with the name – that honor belongs to a researcher named E.O. Wilson.]
The Mediterranean monk seal belongs to that club. So does the Hawaiian puaiohi (a bird that is a member of the thrush species). The Chinese alligator and Chinese river dolphin and the Asian gharial, one of the planet’s most ancient crocodiles, are also members. The Javan rhino’s numbers are estimated at just 25 individuals. The Hawaiian crow and the Philippine eagle are also card-carrying members.
And there are many, many more.
Corwin’s book on the topic, “100 Heartbeats,” wasn’t an easy read. But then again, I didn’t expect it to be. Some of these beings he writes about I will likely only ever meet by reading his book. There are so many, many fellow beings I share our planet with that have me and my species to blame for their speedy demise.
This makes me very sad. The week I read Corwin’s book, I had trouble sleeping every night. I walked around with a vague sadness in my chest and an unusually strong interest in wine.
I would then sit down at my computer the next morning to tackle my daily freelance writing assignments and think, “Why? What am I doing here, anyway? Does any of this really matter?”
I am not sure.
I am definitely not a biologist like Corwin. I am not really a conservationist either (unless you count the various winged and many-legged houseguests I regularly relocate from inside my casa to outside my casa).
I love animals and birds and even some insects, but I don’t go trekking through the Amazon to study them, or save them, or defend them from others who want to capture them.
In fact, I don’t really know that I do anything to help animals, other than to ensure the ones (3, at present) under my direct care receive the very best of everything at all times and in all ways.
That is why reading books like “100 Heartbeats” can be very frustrating. Okay, so now I know. Now what do I DO with that knowledge? And if I continue to do what I’m doing now, which is basically nothing, then why did I read the book in the first place?
Maybe I write blog posts like these. And I watch Corwin’s shows to make sure he stays on the air to tell others about the species that need our help.
It just feels like – it’s not enough.
I don’t know what to do.
Donate money? I can think – right off the top of my head – of about a zillion causes I’d love to donate to. Given my relative annual income compared to the relative number of causes that need financial support, I think that would work out to about $0.25 per cause with an estimated $0.00 left over for me.
So that’s clearly not it.
I used to volunteer at the Wildlife Center here in my city, until one too many shift assignments to clean out the opossum cages (complete with instructions for how to wield the wooden stick “so that they won’t bite you.” Yeep!).
I guess that is why I’m writing this post. What should I do? What can I do?
Today’s Takeaway: If you have any good ideas that aren’t expensive and don’t require travel for how to help endangered non-human beings of any species, I would love to hear them! Thank you in advance! <3