Monday, March 2, 2009

Freedom Trumps Safety

So do good works. The freedom alone is worth taking risks for. Every human around should be willing to take risks to live in a free land.

So why is it that a "specific" risk is bad? I guess that when we can name a fear it trumps the vague idea of freedom. Along with the mongering of fear you will hear people say that there's no good reason to keep a pitbull, a chimpanzee, or a tiger. Why is that? It is because taking a risk for a reason is generally considered right. Some of us think of freedom as a concrete and useful thing. Those of us who think of animals as worth something think of the chimpanzee, the tiger, or the dog as worth taking a risk for.

The idea that "we can't risk human life for this" is generally laughable. That's right, it's laughable. Generally the risk of death is comparable to the risk taken when you drive a car, work for a living, or even sit still. People who sit still are more likely to die of heart attacks so there is no avoiding risks to human life. Inactivity greatly increases the chance of dying prematurely. Both poetically and literally this is because such a person hasn't lived. Science can prove this.

For years groups like the World Wildlife Fund and the International Fund for Animal Welfare have been telling us that it is worth considerable risk to human lives to keep various animals in their native lands. Chasing poachers around the forest is an expensive and dangerous undertaking. This approach is also failing. At the same time populations increase where there are breeding farms for animals like the rhinoceros, the lion, the tiger, and literally anything. Yet they tell us that the vanishingly small number of humans killed by exotic pets and livestock constitute a "danger". The danger is to the pocketbooks of these very well financed organizations.

There is also talk about moving millions of humans around for the convenience of the thousand or so tigers left in India. There is the "voluntary human extinction movement" which if they were sincere would already have killed itself.

It's really only fair. If humans are going to slaughter animals, and we will, for our own interests, we should put our selves and our resources on the line to restore their populations. We should take advantage of our human abilities to produce food more efficiently than nature usually does and use that to our advantage when we restore populations of endangered animals. We start with what we have and work from there. Organizations like IFAW sell us what we wish we had. They have definitely told us that any given tiger is worth the risk of at least one human life. Fortunately when they are pets it's more like one human life per year per ten thousand tigers.

I'm willing to say that the benefits of keeping exotic pets are so great that they are worth far more than the very few human injuries and deaths that do occur. They are part of us, even lions and tigers, and when people encounter them, it's often like getting in touch with missing parts of ourselves. We can put a name to what we feel when we're with our so-called domestics like cats, dogs, and horses. It's the same thing with other species. Most of us have no idea how much we receive from other animals overall. What we give them is a place to stay, a measure of safety, medical care, and love.

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