Most of us sane, caring people are interested in doing what we can to save the environment (notwithstanding certain world leaders- USA and Brazilian springing to mind there).
But how far should we take it?
This is not an article about the entirety of humanity's responsibility to the world around us.
Rather it takes a quick look at our choices through the lens of the situation of one rather large green parrot that is particularly ill-equipped for survival in the modern world. Meet the Kakapo.
In the Economist article where I came across the Kakapo it is described as follows,
“.. the world’s fattest and least flighty parrot. It mates only when the rimu tree is in fruit, which happens every few years….. it evolved in the absence of land-based predators, so instead of soaring above the trees it waddles helplessly across the dry forest floor below. When it stumbles across something that might kill it, it has the lamentable habit of standing still.”
As a result the Kakapo very, very quickly became easy pickings for settlers and the larger animals that they brought with them. By the 1970’s it was thought extinct.
Yet some had survived and have been lovingly nurtured on two islands until now there are 200 nearing adulthood.
But bringing back a species from the brink of extinction comes at a cost.
Last year $1.3m was spent on the project! Which made me wonder- is this really the best use of this money?
I feel pretty certain I know the opinion of the Donald and his like minded friends who would probably prefer to see just about any other use of this money as long as it erred on the side of conspicuous consumption or ensured a good return on investment.
And yet there are some challenging questions.
This bird- hilariously cute though it is- is clearly not an evolutionary winner.
It is hard to rear and hard to keep safe and has that weird death wish thing of standing still in the face of danger.
Maybe it would be easier to find a species that could respond more favourably to less financial input?
But what would then happen if we applied that same logic to people- the disabled, chronically ill or those with mental health issues? Doesn’t really bear thinking about.
And looked at from another angle- what if we see those parts of ourselves that we try and keep hidden in the shadows as being as useless as the Kakapo (and much less cute?)
Then we are into the realms of suppression and denial- the kind of self-hate that invariably leads to disconnection from ourselves and those around us. And in the extreme gets acted out in aggression and abuse towards others because we have tried and failed to excise it from ourselves.
The thing is this drive to support the Kakapo is in my view nothing short of inspiring. It comes from a deep commitment by the New Zealand government to do their best to conserve what they can.
As mentioned above New Zealand had no land mammals before humans (Polynesian Maori’s and then the Europeans) arrived and a wide variety of species of birds not found anywhere else in the world.
Many of these species, including the 3.5m tall land dwelling Moa and it’s predator Haast’s Eagle are no longer with us having been hunted to extinction or eaten by the rats, dogs, cats, stoats, ferrets and pigs brought by settlers.
This can’t be undone, but it is possible do what we can. And this is what the NZ government are doing.
It’s not going to solve the world’s climate problems but looking to preserve the Kakapo is a step in the right direction.
And that’s something we can all do in our own little ways be it for the parts of ourselves we tend to shut off, the people we sometimes ignore and the planet we can often take for granted.