Wednesday, 15 January 2014

At the bottom of the sea -- part 6

Fighting extinction
West African lion,  Panthera leo senegalensis
photo: Jonas Van de Voorde
Not taking a holistic view of the world is like people looking at different parts of a situation through different keyholes or like the Indian parable of the blind men and an elephant.

I started this series talking about the commercial rescue archaeology of  Odyssey Marine Exploration. I know that adding "commercial" to rescue archaeology is redundant -- all rescue archaeology is commercial, and in fact is sometimes just called "commercial archaeology". The "keyhole" approach to the work of this company comes across very clearly in this Guardian newspaper story and its justification uses other officially sanctified keyhole approaches popular with people who lack an analytical nature. I am constantly seeing important archaeological work neglected because of "lack of funding". The passivity of the latter term reveals its truth. Such people are not saying, "If there is nothing in it for me, I'm not interested." But they should be if they wanted to be honest about it. I have never received funding for any of my projects, and that archaeology always needs funding is contradicted by the very existence of organizations like The Council for Independent Archaeology:
"The Council for Independent Archaeology was formed in 1985 to promote the interests of independent archaeology, that is archaeology carried out independently of government funding. It promotes the interests of local societies and amateur archaeologists and historians and those who seek to explore our history without using government funding."
I spoke at one of their meetings, once, and discovered that most of their work was not only completely unfunded, but was of a higher quality than much funded work. A report I saw presented by one group of them on the excavation of a Roman site was of better quality than anything I had ever seen. I would go so far as to call it a work of art. Clearly, something done for the love of it -- the very definition of amateur.

From investigating wrecks, the subject of the series moved to the damage caused by bottom trawling and overfishing in general and how we perceive such things. If you throw a pebble in a pond, you get ripples. If you do anything at all you get metaphorical ripples. So lets see where some of them go.

"African Bush-Meat Trade Linked to EU Overfishing" is the title of a National Geographic news item. The title is really just one aspect of what is covered in the article. It is not just trade that is the motive for killing animals for bushmeat, the very survival of families are dependent on it. Bottom trawling does not just take too many fish from an area but also destroys the ecology of the entire area. From one of the main contributing factors to ocean dead zones, the ripples extend to the land by causing local people who had relied on fishing to take more from the land in order to survive. In both West and East Africa, people are killing more game to eat. In a contest between humans and the large predators for the same food, it is the predators who are losing.

One of the spooky things about having the INFJ personality type is thinking about something one day and finding the same subject in the news shortly thereafter. So it was not a complete surprise to me to be thinking about the potential extinction of the large African predators yesterday, and then getting my Scientific American email notification about the impending extinction of the West African Lion (panthera leo senegalensis) a couple of hours later. Note, though, that the article does not mention anything about overfishing, bottom trawling or ocean dead zones. Without taking taking any of these subjects into consideration, how effective do you think any protective measures will really be?

Another Guardian newspaper story reveals another ripple and speculates whether Senegal will soon become like Somalia where piracy and kidnapping is another response to severe economic hardships ultimately caused by overfishing. Of course, fishing is legal and piracy and kidnapping are not and this is all the dull mind needs to know isn't it?

Who, or what, will write about our own extinction? It probably will not be that soon, but without considerable care it could happen within a few generations. At the very least, there won't be too many of us left. Many parts of the world will be uninhabitable long before that, though. Things are not looking good for Africa already.

No comments:

Post a Comment