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Clyde Israel
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Black Humour

22 August 2013, 08:43

I recently stumbled across two cartoons depicting the plight of the critically endangered and once thought to be extinct ivory woodpecker: one reflected a carnival scene where all the trees barring one had been cut down – where the two last remaining woodpeckers sought refuge, patrons were supporting the ivory woodpecker carnival in order to save the species; the other cartoon was of a typical safari scene, the guide stating that guests had to look carefully  as there may only be one woodpecker left, unfortunately the picture also reflected the woodpecker being squashed by the huge gas guzzling, global warming and land degrading 4 x 4 vehicle.....

Black humour is at times amusing, unfortunately the cartoons in question do not convey an appropriate message and the” take away” will most probably be misconstrued by the layman.  I have read and listened to opinions about the human species being akin to a virus, a plague on the planet, out of control and enabling the destruction of scared Gaia – these cartoons perpetuate a radical Deep Ecology world view. 

The destruction of the ivory woodpeckers’ habitat peaked circa 1940; conservation, industrial and economic circumstance has since changed, for the better.  The cartoons depict a modern circumstance which is inaccurate and with negative connotation, for the environment and all that live within it.  Should environmental activists of this nature – Deep Ecology – wish to contribute to Gaia’s preservation then perhaps common sense and a balanced approach is warranted, one that will appeal to the masses and convey a message of hope and good will; a message that is positive and will create an atmosphere of progress, allowing children to feel confident about their futures and not fear sleeping on neurotoxin soaked pillows (Leonard, 2007).

The ivory-billed wood pecker was presumed to be extinct for over 60 years; on rediscovery environmental groups, both private and public, have responded amicably: funding is in excess of $20 million and has contributed to research, monitoring, habitat protection, recovery planning and public education.  Conservation efforts are utilising partnerships, protection agreements, easements and land purchases from willing sellers in order to facilitate the protection of the species.  Short and long term strategies have been developed in order to ensure the sustainability of conservation efforts and continued existence of the species, they include: the protection and restoration of habitat and the provision of an adequate food supply to increase habitat carrying capacity (Ballinger and Cummins, 2005). 

Commodification of wildlife is a driving force behind conservation; the preservation of habitat and associated species is found in their inherent value, more specifically their economic value and links to sustainable practice.  Forests are being protected by various, successful global initiatives, such as: the development of sustainable forest management (SFM) criteria and indicators; increasing protected areas; reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD +); payment for environmental services (PES); and the “Global Forest Watch 2.0” initiative, enabling all citizens to participate in forest awareness and conservation.  These initiatives are supported by forest governance and policy reform; tackling illegal logging; mobilising green investment; levelling the playing field through fiscal policy reforms and economic instruments; and improving on information related to the diversity of forest assets (UNDP, 2011).

World leaders have agreed to sustainable practices, evident in the 178 signatories to Agenda 21; it is logical to deduce that humans are aware of the issues that hinder progress – that which is entwined in biodiversity and the integrity of Earths life sustaining systems - and are committed to resolving challenges as best we possibly can; we are moving forward, towards the elusive goals of sustainable development. 

And, the ivory woodpecker is safe from the marauding tourist and freak show carnivals.

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