Sunday, January 22, 2012

Miller’s grizzled langur goes unextinct

The disappearance of species and biodiversity fears belong among the classic themes of the environmentalist movement – it has been talked about since the beginning and every new mutation of the environmentalist movement has recycled the concept in a new way. Global warming alarmism is no exception.

Washington Post and lots of other media run the story about Miller’s grizzled langur [P.h. canicrus], a large grey monkey. It was believed to be extinct for some time. In 2004, some people decided to look for it. They didn't find it so they did something they were eager to do: they declared the species extinct.

It was a little bit too fast. Now, in 2012, the monkeys reappeared and they are doing very well. Thousands of pictures have been taken. The news about their demise have been a little bit exaggerated. They were found in the rainforest in the Western parts of Borneo.

When I read the logic behind the surprises, I can't get rid of the impression that this field of biology is incredibly sloppy. For example, we "learn" that those folks "believed" that the primates had to live in the Northeastern Borneo only, in the jungle. So that's probably the only place where they looked.

The species is also known as the Dracula monkey because of the collar of fur (ouch).

But that's just stupid. There's no physical principle that would prevent the monkey from living a few miles further to the West. It may live hundreds of miles away, too. Fugitive millionaires often move by tens of thousands of miles – greetings to Viktor K. to the Bahamas – and humans live in pretty much all types of climatic zones so why wouldn't monkeys sometimes do the same thing? If someone saw a monkey in the jungle sometime in the past, it doesn't force all relatives of this monkey to live in the jungle only – although some people apparently think it does.

They're not so different from us even though some of the members of homo sapiens whose behavior is actually closest to the monkeys sometimes arrogantly love to think that they're qualitatively different than the monkeys. Well, you're not. If you, an environmentalist, are capable of moving to a different part of an island, be sure that your fellow monkey can do the same thing.

If we find a dead body and make a DNA test or something like that, we may declare the person dead. But to declare a whole species dead is a very subtle and risky enterprise. There's always a big chance that we have just overlooked some representatives. We haven't looked at the right places. We skipped the right places because of various prejudices that turn out to be wrong later. Those organisms want to survive and sometimes they may be creative about the ways to survive. They don't just commit harakiri because a place that an environmentalist "reserved" for them is no longer optimal. And sometimes, they don't really need to be creative at all. It's very simple to move from one place to another.

Humans have influenced the Earth, no doubts about it. But if you have ever been far away from the civilization, you must also know that some places are pretty much unaffected. And even some of the things we consider "clear harmful signs of the civilization", like some chemicals in the air, may turn out to be harmless for most of the species. There's really no good scientific reason to think that the extinction rates are vastly different from those that have been seen centuries or millenniums ago.

I believe that much of this science about the "super-accelerating extinction" is as superstitious as the catastrophic global warming theory.

No comments:

Post a Comment