Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy Feet: Is it Just Me?

I am all for the care of animals and conservation, ecology etc, but sometimes you have to wonder. So an Emperor Penguin washes up on a NZ beach, it begins to eat sand as if it is snow, and it looks like it will die. So, then a full scale salvation operation is on to save the penguin with surgery and then supposedly, on recovery, taken back to Antarctica. Now, forgive me but, is all this warranted in a nation where we have people in Christchurch suffering immensely, where the economic downturn still causes problems, and where we struggle to find money to recover the Pike River miners? Wouldn't this money better spent on reducing waiting lists for surgery? If we think globally, I can think of a billion better ways of spending the money – the poor. Doctors in our hospitals are making medical calls every day because money is limited and we are spending money on this – bizarre.  

Now, if an emperor penguin washes up on shore somewhere in NZ at this time of year, 3000 km from where it should be, there is likely something wrong with its internal programming. So, it may well be, that the penguin will be returned and do the same thing again. Or perhaps, its fate is sealed by what it has been through. Shouldn't the money be better spent on something else? Animals die like this every day through such natural events; that is the real world. Is it really worth all the money and effort in a world where suffering is so extreme? Why not send the money to Haiti? Or use it in the Christchurch recovery? Or put it into one of the many conservation programs which are desperately short of money at present.

This comes as a result of distorted values. Yes, we have not cared for creation and the animal world over the last centuries and we feel guilty. The green movement prays on people's guilt and fear of the worst-case scenario. But this is going to ridiculous lengths in my view. It's also because it's a feel-good story too. The media have made such a thing of it that those with the power to help feel they have no option. They should have put it down, but the public outcry would be so great that it is not worth it. I sometimes wonder too whether the impact of animated films has been to distort people's perspective as if such animals are pretty much on a par with humanity. I remember the Jungle Book when I was a kid and I think I would have walked up and patted a panther if I had had the chance straight after it. But animals are not humans! This penguin does not dance!

In a perfect world, where there is no limit on resources, I would say this is a great thing that is being done – another of God's creatures saved. But it is not that world, resources are limited, very much so. So, in my view it would have been well justified to put the animal down. It would have been a little sad for some, but it is simply not worth the money or the effort, not when a world struggles so much. Perhaps I am a heartless guy, ruining a feel-good story, but it seems to me to right option.

Or is it just me?


Anonymous said...

It's not just you Dr Mark.
I personally lean towards the green side of the spectrum (vegetarian, long haired hippy) but have to agree with you, the greenwashing of our society has gone too far in the wrong direction. Meeting the needs of the poor, the sick and the marginalised should be prioritized over saving the penguin, despite it being an awesome part of God's creation.
I think your spot on with the call that it is a feel good story to assuage our collective guilt over the images we get fed of the sick planet, but it is tokenism and ultimately a distraction from the important issues.

I really enjoy this blog, thanks for sharing your thoughts which are so often insightful yet obvious, radical yet balanced. Its a pleasure to read.

Mark Keown said...

Cheers JR.

Anonymous said...

I don't buy into this idea of eco-friendly/animal rights movement when it comes to events like this. I suspect it is nothing more than a source of entertainment and pride for the privileged class.

It is like a hollywood celebrity getting her phone embedded with real diamonds. Those diamonds can help fund some humanitarian project but her society has numbed her from any sense of compassion. She'd rather have her phone customized as it is something different. It's her source of entertainment and pride. Ultimately, it makes her feel good.

Likewise, people living in a privileged society loves the idea of goin the extra mile to save the penguin. It is something different and would make them feel good about themselves. It is their source of entertainment and pride. Nothing more, nothing less. If they have any sense of compassion, they would of spent the money and resource on something else.

Anonymous said...

person above you suck shit . its a waste of money