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The greatest show on earth

By Tom Toles

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Dancing with the steamroller

What species got voted off the planet in the latest episode? It seems fitting that all our reality-based shows seem to involve the principles of extinction, because that's the big reality show of our time. Wow, what a clumsy vertebrate THAT ONE was! Couldn't keep its footing when all its habitat and food were mowed down for our convenience! How pathetic! It had to go.

And who needs all that biodiversity anyway? It's just another insidious version of the whole DIVERSITY thing, animals not like us and apparently incapable of fending off our bulldozers with their inadequate coping skills. Affirmative action for the creatures? Yeah, right!

Here's a plan -- let's continue to destroy habitat and species, and we'll collect what's left and put them in zoos, so we can wheel our kids through in strollers and point out all the funny animals that their parents have eradicated in the wild. Good lesson! Then we can cut the zoo's funding down to zero because it IS just wasteful government, after all, and the game of Survivor is over! Humans win! When all that's left here is sand and loneliness, we can go into space and find a new show to start in on. We'll win that one, too! --Tom Toles

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By Tom Toles  | October 28, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Congress, DC  
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Comments

Jonroesler, one can
easly quote a wrong 'factoid'... also one would not do most watering at night for it produces mold, not good. I agree with imaging and also comment on clearcutting
...again, speak with experience in those matters. However I'm not familiar with Blackwalnut forests in the US...what state had these trees listed as dominant forests?
no matter really, no matter the tree large scale clear cuts not good.
I agree water is a dwindling
resource which will soon become only a commodity that will
eventually be in short supply... that is a given.

Posted by: bertzel | October 29, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

The reason I used quotes was to be clear I wasn't just making it up, but there are both low-tech and high-tech efficiencies.

The most obvious low-tech is to water at night when the temperatures are lower and evaporation is less likely. Also deep-watering less often tends to build stronger roots, but that's much mure effective with perennials than with annuals and farm crops are pretty much annuals.
Terracing and crop rotation, leaving some trees to shield from wind... old school ideas.

Higher-tech is to use satellite imaging to see where the acreage is moist, and simply use less water where less is needed. Same with fertilizers; using color to discover where more (or less) is needed. Greener plants already have more nitrogen than yellower ones, and that shows up in pictures.

One of our problems is using high-yield crops that require LOTS of fertilizer and LOTS of water. High-yield exacts many prices, and one of them is water use.
It would be nice to think that something like water is unlimited, and the water cycle says it IS unlimited... but fresh, unpolluted well water is not.

Nobody can predict exactly when levels will be too low to usea but, at the rate we are using water, it will happen.
Our ancestors will be able to look back at history and say, "Yes, but they sure did preserve THEIR economy and jobs."

Clearcutting old growth forrests is another example of unsustainable agriculture, and I'm not just talking Redwoods. Try to find a harvestable black walnut forrest in the U.S.
They're gone.

Posted by: jonroesler | October 29, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

~~"Increased efficiency in irrigation continues to slow the rate of waterlevel decline." But not stop the rate of decline and certainly not reverse it. So...~~~

Care to explain what you mean by increased efficiency in irrigation? Just curious cuz have had a problem in my area as well...

Posted by: bertzel | October 28, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

cheer up quiensabe..I heard 'the donald' may throw his hat into the ring....isn't that special.
I have to admit that I am truly looking forward to the 'extinction' of the damn republican party "solicitors" who keep 'jammin' my messages and fillin' my mailbox!! I have NEVER seen the repub push as I have in the recent weeks....can't wait for 2012 : (

Posted by: bertzel | October 28, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse


OK, ptgunner, invoke the “science of evolution.” One would think that such a science would have cleansed us of “candidates that are demonstrably corrupt and unfit for office.” Oh, and such a science should have eliminated a specie that practices curb-stomping. Yes, and Palin? An alpha female like her should have vanished at least with the advent of the metro-sexual. As with all sciences, the “science of evolution” certainly withstands the scrutiny of impartial investigation. Since the missing link, Lucy opted to keep her non-opposing thumb and reject her prehensile tail, there just hasn’t been anyone like Sara.

Posted by: quiensabe | October 28, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

IF it was true that we puny humans could influence the planet on a large scale, availability of fresh water might also eventually become a problem. No surprise, then, that "since large-scale irrigation began in the 1940s, water levels in the Ogalallah Aquifer have declined more than 30 meters (100 feet) in parts of Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. In the 1980s and 1990s, the rate of groundwater mining , or overdraft, lessened, but still averaged approximately 82 centimeters (2.7 feet) per year."

"Increased efficiency in irrigation continues to slow the rate of waterlevel decline." But not stop the rate of decline and certainly not reverse it. So...

"Generally, management has emphasized planned and orderly depletion, not sustainable yield." Excellent plan... for continuing to borrow against our children's inheritance.

But taking measures to actually guarantee a sustainable yield would harm agriculture, as if NOT taking measures to do something other than deplete the largest freshwater aquifer in the U.S. will not eventually bring agriculture to a complete halt. Won't be any time soon, though, so why worry?

How this type of thing equals conservatism in any meaningful sense of the word, I truly do not understand. Say it, bobbo2, "Liberals do not understand." Guess that makes me a Liberal? Oh, but it must.

Maybe the problem is that, not all of us recognize that there are such things as limits. No rules, no regulations, no laws, no restraints... not for us. Because we are Masters of the freakin' Universe!

And no taxes. And ponies.

Posted by: jonroesler | October 28, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

psst... bobbo2...we're talkin' florida here.

Posted by: bertzel | October 28, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Dear ptgrunner, Daytona Beach city
Commissioner Derrick Henry and his campaign manager, Genesis Robinson were arrested and charged with absentee ballot fraud. Several counts of it in fact. The reason that you will never hear about it is because NPR or Pacifica radio will never report about it. Oh, and yes, they are Democrats.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 28, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't worry too much Toles... you have plenty of 'creatures' right here in your very own Funny Farm, at least that is the way I am reading it today : )

Posted by: bertzel | October 28, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Extinction may be forever, but so is increasing biodiversity. Remember, if you will, that all mammals trace themselves to a common ancestor. Every species, active or extinct is proof of a nature's spontaneous, ongoing creation of new species. When Homo sapiens is but another extinct species, the better, brighter replacements will refer to us as we do to the Neanderthals. Best not to imagine ourselves as a permanent feature on the face of mother earth

Posted by: HalflifeToolmaker | October 28, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Remember Democrats, voter fraud is a felony. Already there are charges and arrests concerning this election. Please, please, be honest.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 28, 2010 1:09 PM
--------------------------------------------------
Who is making these charges? There are ALWAYS charges from the right. I can't find any arrests. Where's your proof? Don't just pass on Fox-sponsored rumors. Give us some facts!

Posted by: ptgrunner | October 28, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

ptgrunner, you are babbling nonsense.

Think of the big picture here... This planet Earth will become a small cinder in the Universe when the sun goes NOVA.

Species will die, taxes will go up, and we all will die, paying taxes on our estates.

And then we can fly to Venus.

Toles, get a grip.

Posted by: chaunceygardener | October 28, 2010 1:14 AM
-------------------------------------------------
Aaaaah! That stings. The sun is not "going Nova" anytime soon. We and many generations will come and go, if humans live that long, before the sun "goes Nova." If you insist on using that metaphor, the Tea Party has already gone Nova and is headed for the toilet where they belong. I think you are babbling nonsense, chaunceygardener. Palin and TPiers need to "man up" and accept responsibility for their own behavior. The pattern that many people predicted seems to be appearing. You don't see the pattern?!?!? Mathematics, science running this country is very much about recognizing patterns. As for wildlife, I suspect all significant species--those we claim to value most--will exist only in zoos.

Posted by: ptgrunner | October 28, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Remember Democrats, voter fraud is a felony. Already there are charges and arrests concerning this election. Please, please, be honest.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 28, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Ten billion homo saps on earth by 2050, spreading over the planet like driver ants and consuming everything in sight. There's your extinction engine, right there.

Posted by: EthelredtheUnready | October 28, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

After the gathering on the Mall let's see how much those who attended care for the environment. I will bet the farm that the Mall will be completely trashed.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 28, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Based on this latest incoherent rant form Mr. Toles, I think it would be appropriate to issue a warning to everyone currently working at The Discovery Channel offices.

I've heard these ravings before - not too long ago, in fact - and it didn't end well.

Posted by: etpietro | October 28, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh and dave, as dude put it so eloquently, I am just a “common tater”
likin' the ‘self portrait’ dave : )
Posted by: bertzel

My Reply...
We are all "common taters" when you consider the complexity of the world that we live in.


I am also interested as to how you think this ‘transformation’ could be achieved before we all self- destruct.

It would be necessary to establish a new national agenda that puts the efficient and equitable distribution of goods and services first. The Democrats would be responsible for social services and the Republicans would be responsible for quality goods and services. The present economic system would be modified to include a supper fund that would put people to work supplying the needs of the nation and its people.
Note: it was a "supper fund" that paid for fighting the second world war. There were also super funds that rebuilt Europe and the Middle East. They are nothing new.
All of the government agencies would have technical advisers to maintain efficiency and coordination with all other agencies.
The supper fund would pay for elections and national infrastructure. No outside organization would be allowed to influence government decisions. They could only submit proposals.

From what I have ‘gathered’ so far, would I be correct in suggesting that, you tend to lean towards a global, somewhat socialistic society?
Posted by Bertzel

My Reply
The society would be dedicated to the welfare of the people within their society and cooperate with all other nations that are doing the same. Every nation would be responsible for its own best interests.
The social systems would be designed to maximize the development of services and goods.
Those who administered their society would be trained to do so and people would be trained for what there talents indicate.

At the present, I have been using the first book Earthland: the Real and Ideal that I published to send people that are interested in social organization.
The name of my set of four books is Earthland: Meaningful Reality. I have Three books on CD's that need to be published.

People are very capable of rising to the occasion when they need to.
I am pressed for time and will try for some better answers tomorrow.
Till then.
Dave


Posted by: OchamsRazor | October 28, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Humans ARE the new predator that showed up recently and are very successful in that area that tigers live. More successful than tigers. That is natural selection in a nutshell. You do not like this but what would you do, move or remove 10 to 20 million humans so tigers could have habitat?

Perhaps you do not like how successful humans have become in the last 150 years. Perhaps you want to go back to no electricity or mechanized transportation or modern medicine where most activity relates to obtaining ones daily bread.

Posted by: dalyplanet | October 28, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

We are NOT the "new predators" in the traditional sense. First, we do not kill exclusively to survive, and we kill more than we need, and we don't even kill just for food. We kill these animals because we want parts of them for decoration and erectile dysfunction. This is far from "natural."

The rest of the damage we've done, to tigers in particular but this applies to many large predators and other species, is eliminating their range. We are not settling these areas, we are simply cutting them down.

And no, I don't want to go back to living in a cave. I want us to be more responsible with how we live and use our resources and consider the consequences of our actions and way of life. Nice straw man there.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | October 28, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"Of course in order for liberals to prove their point they must ignore the science of the discovery of 1,200 new species in the Amazon including the pink river dolphin. "

Posted by: jornolibist | October 28, 2010 6:21 AM | Report abuse


Who on the left, exactly, is ignoring the discovery of new species. I haven't heard of anyone denying the discovery of new species. The steady stream of nonsensical, convoluted logic that comes from you folks on the right never ceases to amaze me. You should try to spend at least a little of your time inside a classroom. You might just learn something.

Posted by: Kevin71707 | October 28, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

jhnnywalkr

Humans ARE the new predator that showed up recently and are very successful in that area that tigers live. More successful than tigers. That is natural selection in a nutshell. You do not like this but what would you do, move or remove 10 to 20 million humans so tigers could have habitat?

Perhaps you do not like how successful humans have become in the last 150 years. Perhaps you want to go back to no electricity or mechanized transportation or modern medicine where most activity relates to obtaining ones daily bread.

Posted by: dalyplanet | October 28, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Sadly, TT might be right, and the powers that be will wait until they are FORCED off this planet by their own disregard for it.

But, it's not necessary to wait that long before colonizing other worlds. It's just a mistake to envision the exodus as one from Planet A to Planet B. Once freed from a planet, it's stupid to dive down into the gravity well of another one. Then you're trapped there.

The smart alternative is described at http://www.starlarvae.org/Space_Brains_Space_Migration.html


Posted by: HumanistPatriot | October 28, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

A simple-minded gardener named Chance has spent all his life in the Washington D.C. house of a wealthy, old man. When the man dies, Chance is put out on the street with no knowledge of the world except what he has learned from television. His simplistic, serious-sounding utterances, which mostly concern gardening, are mistaken for allegorical statements of deep wisdom and knowledge by political insiders. He remains, however, a child-like idiot.

Venus, eh? Where we will live in the very model of run away greenhouse effect, with no biomass, no water, sulphuric acid rain, and atmospheric pressures that can crush a man. Yeah, that is about the kind of "wisdom" you'd expect from someone who apparently failed earth science.

Posted by: pete1013 | October 28, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Tom as the animals go so do we. In fact they will probably survive after we are all gone. It has been rumored that an exteme reduction of world population is in the works. I agree with and enjoyed all of your latest cartoons. The $1 million dollar bill without a face is quite comical.

Posted by: JONAHandtheFISH | October 28, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Oh lovely, a new worry from those that are far more concerned about the environment than the rest of us, or so they think. Ninety nine percent of all species that have ever existed are now extinct.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 28, 2010 6:39 AM | Report abuse

99% of all people who have ever lived are now dead. What's a few hundred thousand more?

You need to work on your trolling. Maybe if you took a break it would help. You're really stretching lately. Maybe wait for a good one you can really latch onto without having to go way out of your way to get to the bashing of liberals. That "Tea Party-evolution" thing, come on, you can do better. I believe in you.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | October 28, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

TT You really need to get out of town. Where I live the biodiversity is fine. I think living in a large city can distort ones perception of reality. Go have lunch in Gunder Iowa population 79. Pretty far in the middle of nowhere. Best huge hamburger and no traffic, subways, school issues, or politicos to add stress. A visit to a very small town improves ones perspective.

A recent AP article reported finding new species at a rate of 1 every three days for the last decade in South America, over 1200 new species.

Posted by: dalyplanet | October 27, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

I recently read we were probably going to be the last generation to have tigers in the wild. There is absolutely no other reason for their demise than us. We encroached their territories until they didn't have enough range, and we hunted them for sport and for folk medicine. That's it. They aren't dying of some mysterious disease, some new predator didn't show up and start killing them or their food supply. We did this. This is our fault. This is a predator at the very top of the food chain, except for us. This is not Darwin's Natural Selection at work, this is humankind's very unnatural selection at work.

Also, those species you are talking about are insects and plants and rodents and reptiles and fish that are only found in the middle of nowhere in one small part of the world. Biodiversity doesn't work that way. You don't say, "Well we destroyed the entire population of these here, but LOOK OVER THERE! I see at least a hundred of these other things there!" It does not "even out."

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | October 28, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the 'discovery' of new species doesn't mean they sprang up overnight. Just that we are now aware of them. Extinction is forever. And if the rate of extinction is increasing, due in part to the dominance of humanity over mother earth, then we have a responsibility to address that situation.

Posted by: Rudesan | October 28, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Welcome to the Age of Insects.

Posted by: joel5 | October 28, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Oh lovely, a new worry from those that are far more concerned about the environment than the rest of us, or so they think. Ninety nine percent of all species that have ever existed are now extinct. So Mr. Toles I don't think that Conservatives have been around that long so they can't be responsible. We are seeing though, evolution in Congress. A new species is being developed through speciation, The Tea Party. They are exploiting a political niche. The living fossils, especially Leftus Moronicus, which have been in power for hundreds of millions of years it seems, are in danger of losing their niche. President Obama has endangered his species of politician in only two years. Isn't evolution wonderful?

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 28, 2010 6:39 AM | Report abuse

Of course in order for liberals to prove their point they must ignore the science of the discovery of 1,200 new species in the Amazon including the pink river dolphin. Toles cartoon is no different than the Posts A2 story today about the "Net cost of college dropping" after you subtract the financial aid??? Both a bunch of liberal gobblygook.

Posted by: jornolibist | October 28, 2010 6:21 AM | Report abuse

When it comes down to a scorched earth. It will make little difference what species are still available. Species come and go.

I think we need to be more concerned about what mother nature will do to us than what we are doing to mother earth. She will still be here long after we are toast.

People need to get their priorities straight and fix their problems instead of letting them fester. We have the resources. All we have to do is put those resources to work instead of bicker over non essentials.

Posted by: OchamsRazor | October 28, 2010 2:07 AM | Report abuse

ptgrunner, you are babbling nonsense.

Think of the big picture here... This planet Earth will become a small cinder in the Universe when the sun goes NOVA.

Species will die, taxes will go up, and we all will die, paying taxes on our estates.

And then we can fly to Venus.

Toles, get a grip.

Posted by: chaunceygardener | October 28, 2010 1:14 AM | Report abuse

Darwinian evolution dictates that the Tea Party will soon be selected out of existence. There is no there, there. No substance. No rational thought. Only fear, anger and....violence. They want to go back to a time in our country's history that never really existed. And look at how they are behaving. They, their security teams, campaign workers, or hardcore supporters threaten or handcuff journalists, curb-stomp a woman and ask for an apology from _her_ . They continue to support candidates that are demonstrably corrupt and unfit for office. Miller, Paul, O'Donnell, Paladino, Brewer, Angle, and many others most of us know little about.

During the 2008 campaign, Sarah Palin was criticized for issuing thinly veiled calls to violence. I wasn't sure that those warnings should be taken seriously. It appears that those chickens are finally coming home to roost. TPiers will deny _any_ responsibility for what they do. It's the fault of liberal elites they will say. I say "the pattern is there among TPiers and Palin has encouraged them to engage in this abysmal behavior." When will a house fall on this wicked, wicked person? Figuratively speaking, of course.

Posted by: ptgrunner | October 27, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

If the clown shoe fits print it. It the clown shoe fits create it.

Posted by: billybeer6 | October 27, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

TT You really need to get out of town. Where I live the biodiversity is fine. I think living in a large city can distort ones perception of reality. Go have lunch in Gunder Iowa population 79. Pretty far in the middle of nowhere. Best huge hamburger and no traffic, subways, school issues, or politicos to add stress. A visit to a very small town improves ones perspective.

A recent AP article reported finding new species at a rate of 1 every three days for the last decade in South America, over 1200 new species.

Posted by: dalyplanet | October 27, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Darwinism at work... You know, survival of the fittest, evolution. The cockroaches shall inherit the Earth.

Is that the tax collector trick or treating in the sketch?

Posted by: chaunceygardener | October 27, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

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