Hello again iiwiiers
The Guardian yesterday had five scientists, a.k.a. 'experts', discussing what species is most important, i.e. which would we be in most trouble without. Well, not discussing it, each proposing a different one. Isn't that weird, none of them had the same thing? Anyway, we can't leave something like that undecided, so obviously It Is What It Is is taking the opportunity to examine their cases and decide who is the winner and who are idiots.
The candidates' nominees are as follows: fungi, bees, plankton, bats and primates. At the first round we can lose two of them in quite a simple way: it is claimed that were it not for fungi, bees and plankton we wouldn't have enough to eat, so we'd starve to death. The same claim is not made for bats and primates, so out they go. Let's look at the stupid case for each in more detail. Dr Kate Jones of the Zoological Society of London is the fool nominating the bats. The best she can do is that many 'commercially important' crops would fail without bats, and that others would need more money spent on pesticides. One of the four crops she mentions is tequila, that's how much she's stretching. She says that a world without bats is unthinkable, because, amongst other things, they 'provide the imagery of Dracula and the flying creatures of Halloween'. Did she really think that would strengthen her case? Why not 'they should save rabbits because Bugs Bunny is funny'? But Bugs Bunny is not so funny that it would be worth sparing him so we could enjoy his cartoons a few months longer before we all starve to death, as opposed to sacrificing him now and living forever. And bats aren't worth it either, unless you've got some bat fixation like Kate.
The other first round loser is primates, nominated by Ian Redmond, chief consultant of the great apes survival project. How he got that job I'll never know. He's got the wrong idea about some very basic facts about great apes. He says 'Monkeys, apes and lemurs must be saved, not just because they share so much DNA with humans...' Ian, you wally, humans are primates, more specifically they are apes, more specifically they are great apes! You're chief consultant of the great apes survival project and you didn't even know that? The reason he does think they should be spared is that they spread tree seeds in their shit which, you know, trees, rainforest, carbon dioxide, good. But let me ask you this - which came first, trees or primates? Obviously trees can manage to find a way to survive and thrive even without primates. And another thing, 'primates' is even less a 'species' than 'bats' is. He didn't even use the best argument for saving primates, which would convince all selfish people, that if primates go then we go too, because we are primates. And I presume that he understands that we are primates on some level. Surely?
That leaves us with fungi, bees and plankton. It is claimed that if any of those go we are screwed. So for round two we'll need to find another way to decide, seeing as how whichever way we go we starve to death. I think first to go is Professor David Thomas of the School of Ocean Sciences, University of Bangor, who nominates plankton. Firstly his job suggests a factor in his decision is a relative ignorance of things that don't live in the sea. Secondly, his pitch is all over the place. He should be finishing on a strong note, something like "and in conclusion I remind you once again - without plankton we all starve to death. Do you want to starve to death? Vote wisely." But no, after explaining how important they are to life on Earth, he says "But apart from how vital the plankton are to running planet Earth, they are simply beautiful to look at. Plankton have been an inspiration to artists and designers ever since the first microscopes were invented, and plankton inspired design can be found on a whole range of scales from buildings to wheel hubs." Ian, you ninny! People are thick, mostly! 60% of them don't even read It Is What It Is! They only remember the last thing you said! So instead of remembering that they're going to starve to death they'll be thinking 'well, we had art, buildings and wheels before the invention of the microscope, didn't we, so I think we'll be okay without the plankton, thanks.' Epic fail.
So, that brings us to the final. Fungi vs bees. Who will triumph and who will be eating loser stew? It's very close. They are both relatively good, so I'll have to nitpick a little. I'm opening the envelope now. The runner-up is - Professor Lynne Boddy of the Cardiff School of Biosciences, who nominated fungi. A strong entry, but a rather weak ending. She has lost by being honourable, I'm afraid, as unlike the other contestants she actually picked a specific species with he last paragraph, which ended rather weakly with "...and produces powerful chemicals that may turn out to yield novel pharmaceuticals." May? Sorry, Lynne, we're trying to starve to death, we can't save something on the basis of what it might turn out to do. But as well as the silver medal you get the fair play award for picking a species.
So the winner is Dr George McGavin of the Oxford Museum of Natural History, who nominated Bees. Well done George. You ended with a proper scary last paragraph: "Bees are irreplaceable and the debate about what might happen if they disappeared is no longer academic. We have set in motion processes that may lead to the extinction of the planet's most important pollinators along with countless other species that depend on them. Not only will the world be a much less colourful place, it will also be poorer in every other way imaginable. The effects will be nothing short of catastrophic." A good strong ending, against flawed competition you really nailed it with that, and so you take home the famous prize cup depicting the world starving to death.
I'm busy tomorrow, so no promises of anything as usual in such circumstances, but at the moment I'm thinking I am likely to do a full It Is What It Is.
that's all from me for now
see you around
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