Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Geese and Blind Dolphins

The Chinese baiji, “goddess of the river,” the blind white dolphin who swims in the Yangtze River, has been declared extinct . Not a single dolphin was sighted during a Swiss-funded expedition last month. I was reading this item in our local newspaper (and trying not to cry) when something frightened the Canadian geese in the fields behind our home.

Within a few seconds the skies were black with thousands of birds. The honking was so loud it sounded like a Broncos game after a touchdown and, less attractively, a sound like squishy hail hit my back deck and windows as the geese unloaded their, er, tanks.

The contrast couldn’t be greater. Here in the richest country in the world we have the ultimate luxury: Wildlife. If I were a poor starving peasant I wouldn’t be watching the geese fly overhead. I’d be shooting at them so I could have something to eat. Our kids delighted in Mother Goose stories when they were toddlers. I made sure to explain that “Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked in a Pie” isn’t just a silly rhyme. When people are poor and starving, they kill and eat whatever they can to survive.

People on the edge of survival kill predators, too. Cougars, otters, beaver, wolves and bears were once eradicated from our plains and mountains because they competed with people for food. We don’t kill these beautiful creatures any more because we don’t have to. We have so much food we worry about losing weight to be healthy.

Because of our wealth, populations of wildlife have exploded. White tailed deer, numbering about 300,000 in 1930, are estimated at 30 million today. Cougars, once hunted to near extinction, have rebounded to the point where there are sightings of the big cats as far east as the Appalachian Mountains. Drive across Wyoming and you’ll see many of the 500,000 pretty antelope that were hunted to less than 18,000 in 1920.

In China, one of the poorest countries in the world, people still live on the edge of starvation. If blind river dolphin doesn’t make a tasty steak, it eats fish that do. The newspaper article blamed “China’s turn towards capitalism” as the reason for the extinction of this beautiful and rare creature. Of course in our much more capitalized country of America, our forests and rivers are teeming with healthy wildlife. Why is that? The authors of the article don’t bother to explain; they have their liberal agenda, and they don’t particularly care about the truth.

The truth? Consider this. Vail, Colorado is considering digging a highway tunnel under Vail valley so the roar of traffic will disappear and the elk and trout will return. These people are so filthy rich they can spend their cash making a tunnel so they don’t have to listen to the sound of traffic. They want elk and deer and songbirds instead of the sound of jake brakes and the smell of truck exhaust. That’s how they want to spend their money, and because they’re in our capitalist country of America, they can.

Greenie environmentalists who file lawsuits don’t do much to help the environment. Their radical cousins who vandalize SUV dealerships and burn down ski lodges don’t help our wildlife and our forests. What helps our wildlife is the wealth of capitalism. We conservatives are the reason for the black clouds of geese honking in the skies, for the bear and buffalo and antelope that roam our plains. The conservative concept of privately owned property has created the wealth that allows us the luxury of wildlife. In countries that are collectivist, commonly owned lands are poisoned and bare and creatures like the blind baiji dolphin disappear forever.

That’s one of the reasons I’m a conservative. Listen to the geese, and join me.

Actually, could you join me first in hosing off my deck?


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