Friday, December 14, 2018

Microstory 995: Panda Neglect

This is a quite unpopular one, and is probably too negative for this list, and I realize that. You may be asking, why would you not want to save the pandas? Well, I’m not suggesting we go out and murder a bunch of animals, but we should certainly stop wasting all of our resources on protecting them. 99% of animals that have ever lived on this planet have gone extinct, a great many of them dying out in the third mass extinction event. To be sure, humans are the cause of a lot of death, but we can’t be blamed for most of this. When it comes to evolution, there are three general outcomes. The first is that a mutation can become a positive genetic trait, leading to an advantage which allows that species to survive. The second is a neutral trait, which doesn’t have that much effect in the long run. It often leads to subspecies, because the individuals who do not possess the trait are still doing fine. The third is a negative trait, and will lead to death. If it doesn’t help the species to survive, then the mutated creature will likely die before passing on their genes, and the rest of the population won’t have to worry about it. Then you have the panda. Pandas separated from the rest of the bear family tree about three million years ago, likely due to environmental restrictions. While they were originally well-designed for an omnivorous diet, scientists believe there wasn’t enough meat around, which essentially forced them to subsist on what was available. For as little nutrition as bamboo provides, it certainly grows quickly, and would have a hard time going extinct itself. The problem is that the panda doesn’t care how quickly bamboo grows. It prefers to eat the sprouts, which are about half as nutritious, which means a panda has to eat twice as much; ultimately half of their own body weight. Can you imagine eating *cough* thirty-six kilograms *cough* of food a day? The biggest argument against panda conservation is how much we’re wasting on breeding them when they’re better off doing it in the wild. We’ve all heard how dumb these animals are, and how bad they are at sex, but the reason they’ve survived this long is they’re actually not all that bad at it in the wild. They’re only bad at it in captivity, because....well, wouldn’t you be? If we want to save the pandas, then we should leave them be. The reason we have to work so hard protecting other species, like elephants, is because other forces are working against us, but there’s not a huge market for panda meat. That’s right, all your efforts to save them are actually harming them. We can’t change what they choose to eat, but we can choose to ignore them. Set the pandas free, and leave them alone. If they die out, then that makes me a saaaad panda. But also not, because I don’t care that much; they mostly did it to themselves.

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