- November 29th, 2011
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Typically, around nine in the evening, after preparing individual meals for the children and seeing them off to bed, I will recline for an hour or so and watch whatever is available on our local PBS affiliate. After opting some time ago to not get cable service, I find that the only programming I can watch in the evenings tends to be of the public variety. So it was last night as I watched an episode of Nature on the intelligence of crows. Last week I saw a remarkable episode of the same program on the intelligence of turkeys.
Coincidentally, earlier yesterday I stumbled upon a blog post on a lefty site bemoaning the fate of the planet, and in particular, the horror of greenhouse gases that will be released into the atmosphere in coming years as energy consumers burn the dirty, dirty oil that is currently being dredged up from the tar sands of the Alberta prairie. The shale oil will certainly be burned, either here in North America or somewhere else. We know this to be true. Humans need energy and fuel and so forth.
Crows are smart enough to use tools to make tools. Now if you think about that for a minute it’s really quite impressive. It’s something that, apparently, even our fellow primates don’t do. Intelligence appears to be an inevitable outcome of natural selection.
Perhaps it’s time for our species to get out of the way. If the planet is getting used up, then we ought to plan our own demise and set a timeline for the end. My suggestion is that the entire species voluntarily refrain from reproducing after a certain date. Let’s say we have about two-hundred years left, so we make sure we stop reproducing completely by the end of the 21st century. That will free us up to exploit the planet as much as we want for another three or four generations. It could be a wonderful party. Without having to worry about waste and scarcity of resources, the human population of the planet will be able to live in style on its way out.
The crows won’t miss us much (although they have adapted quite well to living among us). And I think we as a species ought to be proud of our accomplishments and make every effort to preserve an archive of those accomplishments for the crows (or whatever other creature) succeeds us in a few million years. The sun is only about half-way through its lifespan, so this planet could easily be around long enough to support the development of another equally intelligent species.