Thursday, April 28, 2005This video will tell you a bit about the discovery of an Ivory Billed Woodpecker on Feb. 11, 2004 in the Cache Swamp in Arkansas. What a miracle! What cause for jubilation ! I've had a dumb grin on my face all day. All birders should be joyously relieved to learn of its existence.
This bird has come to represent the crisis of human land use encroaching violently upon wildlife habitat. This bird has nearly become extinct due to logging. Yet many homes, mine included, are of wood, and I use paper and paper products every day. WE just haven't prioritized the use of technologies which might have less impact on our fellow beings, even when those technologies already exist. Why?
I wonder if it has to do with our concept of "use-value"--the way that we in the Western world think our survival depends on certain things but not others. Birds have no obvious use-value--they cannot be bought or sold, they do not provide food, they are not cute and obviously intelligent like dolphins or monkeys, they make ok but not awesome pets, and they don't bear loads for us like pack mules. And yet, as the president of the Chicago Ornithological Society once told me, birds are a vital part of the ecology of the planet, and we won't like it when they're gone. But how to make that an immediate, urgent fact for people who don't already understand it?