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Here come the tigers

29 May 2019 | Science Notes

Climate alarmism may have jumped the shark, or land-based equivalent, with the new claim in Newsweek, by an Oxford University anthropologist, that “Man-eating Tigers Could Hunt down More Humans Due to Climate Change”. In fact tigers are in a lot of trouble and humans are to blame; the loss of ecosystems may well spell extinction for this iconic predator. But (a) it has nothing to do with climate change (b) we’re threatening them not the other way around and (c) trying to frighten us into putting corks in our chimneys or we’ll be shredded in a savage jungle ambush is frankly ridiculous.

Every movement has its kooks and cranks whose irresponsible rhetoric makes more reasonable adherents flinch. But climate alarmism seems to be having increasing trouble telling reasonable from ridiculous and thus satirizes itself in ways that make other efforts redundant, like Britain’s Independent suggesting that there’s an epidemic of depressed dogs due to climate change. Despite which we recommend this David Marcus piece on how we have just three and a half days to stop climate change or, among other things, Denver will be “under 24 feet of burning snow”.

The dragging of the green movement into self-parody matters. The smarten-up-or-a-tiger-will-extract-nature’s-revenge is tragicomic because, on the tragic side, the prospect that we will drive tigers to extinction really is profoundly disturbing. Environmentalism is not nonsense; it has done much good over the past half-century and there is much more to do including saving photogenic species like tigers as well as many others that don’t photograph as well, and the places they live. Sharks, too, are under a lot of pressure as are a great many ocean species due to overfishing and other problems.

It’s also more broadly tragic because the obsession with climate is diverting attention, effort and money away from things we can and should be doing. And bringing environmentalism into disrepute in the process as voters increasingly turn away from apocalyptic and frequently sanctimonious rhetoric poorly connected to reality including recently in Australia.

At the same time it’s comic because it’s such a silly threat. Not because being eaten by a tiger is a laughing matter if it happens to you. Because it’s so unusual; where tigers once killed thousands of people a year they now kill a few dozen at most.

Ten thousand years ago death at the claws of a predator was a serious risk and as recently as the Middle Ages a story like Little Red Riding Hood didn’t end well for the unwary child who strayed into the forest. Humans have taken steps to avoid the danger. Possibly by now too many. There’s a book Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare whose cover, at least on the current Amazon.ca listing, shows… a tiger. And the main ecological reason is that apex predators consume a lot of prey so there can’t be a lot or they starve. But with increasing technical prowess we’ve been getting rid of them whenever possible because one lousy sabre-tooth tiger attack can ruin your whole day.

By now it’s gone too far and we should do something. But not cut down on GHGs so the tigers don’t strike back. That is absurd.

2 comments on “Here come the tigers”

  1. We're not calling democratic politicians Nazis on this site. We're all for vigorous debate. But not this sort of abuse.

  2. In the May 25th edition of The Economist, an article is presented on how climate change can fuel wars. There is just no end to labeling climate change as the cause of every problem in the world. For sure, food famines would be a factor instigating conflicts, in addition to other factors and events. But putting the big label of "climate change" on wars is ridiculous. It implies that is the cause, pure and simple.

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