Who Made BBC Wildlife Expert Chris Packham God?

Tuesday, September 23, 2009

800px-Panda_Cub_from_Wolong,_Sichuan,_China

BBC wildlife expert Chris Packham thinks he’s God. He questions the millions spent trying to save the giant panda from extinction and suggested that the bamboo-eating bear should be allowed to die out “with a degree of dignity”.

The zoologist, in an interview with the Radio Times went on to describes the giant panda as a “T-shirt animal” on which too much conservation money is wasted.

“Here is a species that, of its own accord, has gone down an evolutionary cul-de-sac. It’s not a strong species,” he said.

“I reckon we should pull the plug. Let them go, with a degree of dignity.”

Packham’s remarks are disturbing — not because he’s correct but because he’s a zoologist and the natural assumption is, a zoologist is more learned on the subject of species preservation. While there is no question the giant panda is now a conservation reliant, endangered species, due to farming, forest clearing and human development, all of which threaten the animal’s habitat and diet (99% of their diet is bamboo), it isn’t up to Mr. Packham to decide which species is allowed to live or die.

It’s estimated there are fewer than 47,000 lions and 2,000 tigers now living in the wild. Does Chris Packham advocate the world’s big cats also be allowed to die out “with a degree of dignity”? Once a species disappears from the earth it is gone for good. Being a zoologist doesn’t make you God. Even if Chris Packham thinks otherwise.

This entry was posted in International News, News, Wildlife Preservation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Who Made BBC Wildlife Expert Chris Packham God?

  1. DMason says:

    Personally, I hope Chris Packham becomes extinct.

  2. bradfrmphnx says:

    Every species is like the spoke on a wheel. If you eliminate a spoke, the wheel will probably still turn. But if you eliminate too many spokes, the wheel eventually fails.

    This is a sad documentary on what we as a species have done to our planet. Chris Pacham isn’t God, and let’s not let him take that chair. Save the Panda at any cost. What would life be like without the Panda, and all the other species of life that make our planet rich in flora and fauna?

  3. Woodcliffe says:

    Of course, this is the old British Empire mentality that once embraced slavery and trophy hunting too.

    What bradfrmphnx said. Bio-diversity is essential to humanities survival.

    What DMason said. Better Packham go extinct than the panda.

    Humans are appallingly arrogant and we seem to think we are the center of the universe and can rearrange it without any consequences.

  4. Matteo says:

    Is this what Mr. Packham wants?

    25% of Wild Mammal Species Face Extinction

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/06/AR2008100600641.html

    At least a quarter of the world’s wild mammal species are at risk of extinction, according to a comprehensive global survey released here Monday.

    The new assessment — which took 1,700 experts in 130 countries five years to complete — paints “a bleak picture,” leaders of the project wrote in a paper being published in the journal Science. The overview, made public at the quadrennial World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), covers all 5,487 wild species identified since 1500. It is the most thorough tally of land and marine mammals since 1996.

    “Mammals are definitely declining, and the driving factors are habitat destruction and over-harvesting,” said Jan Schipper, the paper’s lead writer and the IUCN’s global mammals assessment coordinator. The researchers concluded that 25 percent of the mammal species for which they had sufficient data are threatened with extinction, but Schipper added that the figure could be as high as 36 percent because information on some species is so scarce.

  5. libhomo says:

    I wonder if he was paid off by the Chinese.

  6. feminazi says:

    Chris Packham is an academic heretic. Too often, people who have “book smarts” sacrifice common sense and the ability to see beyond their own nose. Would he say humans living with life-threatening illnesses like cancer, HIV and heart disease also be allowed and even encouraged to die? I say to him, nonsense.

  7. givenchance says:

    I do like pandas! it is a pity that there are not many of them left on our planet.

  8. Stephan Iversonn says:

    I remember a few years ago when I first heard about the disappearing bee population. Initially, I didn’t see the broader picture or understand the implications for the survival of crops.

    But there is no doubt in the scientific community that bees play a critical role in the production of foods such as fruit and vegetables. The presence of bees is a sign of environmental health and the overall health of the planet.

    Some scientists have gone so far to say humanity has reached a tipping point. Without bees, we may not survive as a species. This argument goes to the heart of what’s meant by the term biodiversity.

    Perhaps, My Packham needs to go back to zoology 101 and revisit how we are all inter-related. If one species becomes extinct, there are grave implications for all of us.

  9. Anthony says:

    You all miss his point I think. Its not that he believes that they SHOULD die out, only that they WILL die out no matter how much money (within the constraints of reality) is spent, or however much effort is made. It is inevitable.

    I don’t know enough about the area to agree or disagree with that judgement. But if it is true (and he is an expert of this field who obviously loves animals), then wouldn’t it be better that the money is spent elsewhere to save an animal that actually CAN be saved?

  10. bradfrmphnx says:

    Anthony…with all due respect, I think you miss our point. And that is that we should not have allowed ourselves to reach this point in the first place. The Giant Panda’s extinction will be solely at the hand of man’s overpopulation of this earth. The encroachment into its habitat has doomed it. And we are doing that across the globe to many species. I disagree that we should just let it go. We have the ability to save it by setting aside habitat for it, and by continuing to breed it in captivity until we can achieve the technology to make it viable once again. This isn’t just a species of gnat we are talking about. This is an animal loved throughout the world, and it is showing us that we are hurting our planet by our actions.

  11. Anthony says:

    Yes I probably did miss your point. Sorry.

    But at this stage I don’t think it breaks his argument… That this is where we are, and this is what we are doing and this is the minimal result.

    I agree with you in the end. No animal should be left to become extinct. But I also agree with him in that the money spent can become too much of a distraction from other things which should be priorities. In the end some conservation of their populations should always be perused but expectations (and thus costs) of what can be achieved should be reduced.

  12. Brigadoon says:

    If I correctly understand Chris Packham, he said (and I quote) “I reckon we should pull the plug. Let them go, with a degree of dignity.” This assumes preservation efforts can’t or won’t same the giant panda from extinction. I agree if we do nothing, extinction will result but, if we give them a nudge, they will survive.

  13. Anthony says:

    If by nudge, you mean billions of [enter ‘stable’ currency of choice] then yeah. Just by using the word ‘nudge’ doesn’t make the action or cost any less in reality. Why not plough the money into animals who really only need a nudge? Why are pandas such an expensive special case?

    …Sorry to be polemic on this blog, but I really think its important to bring out the argument within the media grabbing statements such as…

    “I reckon we should pull the plug. Let them go, with a degree of dignity.”

    …This means nothing when put against the real argument behind it. Phrases like that are just vehicles to get attention. Marketing 101. :-p

  14. Mike says:

    hope he catches some real grief about these statements. sort of like trying to agree upon a tolerable level of racism, or plague, or anything else that would seem overtly elitist and heartless.

  15. Anthony says:

    @Mike …………ok………. you equate discussions about how best to fund the preservation of species to racism.

    Yeah, moving on.

  16. Toro says:

    I totally and completely agree with you @dmason

  17. retahyajyajav says:

    The preservation of the pandas is primarily up to the Chinese. If they see their survival as important and want to spend the money to see to it, then Chris Packham needs to STFU.

    Thank goodness he’s not in a policymaking position.

  18. lakatosi says:

    Anthony isn’t missing the point. YOU are missing the point.

    Chris Packman doesn’t think he’s God. He is only stating a clear observation. That is, pandas have very little chance of survival, even with human help. I love pandas, OK, but still, I also like other endangered animal species, a lot of which do have the chance of regaining stability.
    I’m not saying that we should leave the pandas to vanish off the face of Earth. All I’m saying is that we shouldn’t make such a fuss about what a zoologist thinks.

  19. bradfrmphnx says:

    lakatosi…the fuss of others is no less frivolous than your own fuss. Most are just disagreeing with Chris Pacham’s statement to pull the plug. retahyajyajav correctly points to China as being the single important aspect of the Giant Panda’s chances for survival. The rest of the world can only try to procreate a species in zoos, that is genetically wired against anything other than eating a certain species of bamboo, in a very conditional climate.

    So when Pacham states that we should pull the plug because money is more important than a species, myself and others feel strongly against that. I really don’t see an affect on my financial status. Suppose all 6.78 billion people in the world donated a dollar to help save the Giant Panda, I would think that would be an enormous help. And really a dollar doesn’t hurt that much. So the point is that we can save this species without an enormous financial debt to society. My figures are distorted in reality, I grant that. But it makes the point. That doesn’t make what I’m fussing about irrelevant, does it?

  20. Peace Nick says:

    lakatosi – Normally, I wouldn’t care what some Brit zoologist says either.

    The thing that amplifies Packham’s POV is he’s the official BBC zoologist. This means he’s on TV and radio and I’m sure we will have to suffer him on BBC America and Animal Planet.

    By extension, his high profile makes him an expert to people when in fact, he’s just a bloviator with bad teeth.

  21. libhomo says:

    I checked Anthony’s blog. He is an extreme rightist who is trolling. No need to take him seriously.

  22. tychy says:

    giant pandas are fat, useless, and impotent – it’s a nasty business, evolution, but it’s also very fair.

  23. seo4less says:

    he does bring some good points …it is hard for the panda species to survive it is not a strong enough species but for us to not help try to save them is wrong and no he is not god nor will he ever be god

    SEO for LESS

  24. Fran says:

    The giant panda is listed as endangered in the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN’s) Red List of Threatened Animals. There are about 1,600 left in the wild. More than 160 pandas live in zoos and breeding centers around the world, mostly in China.

    I don’t want any species to go extinct under our watch.

  25. Pingback: Who’s playing god? « Because No One Asked

  26. livvyjane says:

    @DMason LOL =D

  27. J says:

    I think, it is agreeable that each person should have his opinion, but regardless, the one thing I think can agree upon is the sense of regret when we know that we will never be able to see a particular species anywhere.

    At least, I feel the sense of loss at not being able to see a tasmanian tiger for myself. It is very easy, to make a decision to pull the plug, the question is, how much regret are you willing to bear?

  28. Phoenix says:

    I strongly dislike it when someone considering himself or herself a God or a Goddess, trying to decide which species is going to have a chance to survive, or which woman has the right to marry and have a child, or which woman is going to have a child at which age.

    They will never become God.

    Honestly, whether the panda gets a chance at survival or not is not determined by one so-called scientist. Around the world so many are involved in saving it.

    The giant panda has become reproductively weak. But that is a direct manifestation of the adverse effects that human expansion has caused the animal. The panda can eat small mammals if it wants to. And when feeling threatened, this cuddly creature can crush a human being, according to one TV program.

    It is the same when someone attempts to control a woman’s reproductive ability. They say if a woman is well-connected, then she is allowed to have a child at a suitable age. If a woman is not well-connected, then she’d better not dream of having a child.

    My reply to such nonsense is: To hell with it. A woman can get any man if she sets her mind to it. If she is not making the final leap, that is because she is dissatisfied with some aspects of the target, not because she can’t get the target. Somebody better gets this straight. And they’d better not play God before me, for I know more about God than they do.

  29. Filthy Screw says:

    I went to the San Diego Zoo to see the pandas with my son who was on leave from Iraq. There was a long line to see them and a long list of warnings about what would disturb the pandas.

    After reading that loud noises, flash bulbs, boisterous movement, too much staring (and maybe pointing too I was suffering warning overload at this point so I am not sure), would kill the pandas my son looked at me and said, “If they’re that delicate let them go extinct. They’re going to die anyway. Make room for something that can actually live in the wild. How the hell do they survive in a thunderstorm” etc.

    I agree. They are nearly impossible to keep alive and species are supposed to go extinct. How do you think others evolve. Without extinction, we’d be shrew-like critters running from our dinosaur overlords.

  30. Anthony says:

    Ha, I have never trolled in my life. I was only responding to this blog after randomly finding it through work, and seeing the eye catching – but flawed – title. My previous blogs are along the tradition of British conservatism and academic thought, and have little direct reflection within American political dynamics or right and left.

    Either way I think I got my point across. You shall never see me again.

    …I am going to make a final point. He is not playing God. If you want to but it into a religious context, he is playing the role of the ‘Steward’ of the world, which many people within religions see our role is on the planet.

    It is ALWAYS right to question, and for people to ask for (world)society to reflect on what it is we are doing.

    It is odd how it is now the ‘left’ (very loose concept) who hold tenants of truth that should not be questioned. And this worries me.

  31. Paul Wynn says:

    I agree, who is he to say what deserves to die or what doesn’t…

  32. JG says:

    I think Anthony makes some very valid points. I am a zoologist and I’m also concerned about the preservation of endangered species, but we need to approach the subject logically rather than blinded by passion.

  33. bradfrmphnx says:

    I thought Anthony was very respectful, and well spoken in his arguements.

  34. Mahmoud Al-Khouri says:

    I have never been bothered by extinctions. It is nature’s way of saying enough. Thousands of species are no longer with us, and it doesn’t bother me at all. I do not miss the carrier pigeon or whatever. I do not miss the speckled thingy or the reticulated dung-slinger. I do not regret the passing of the mammouths or the dinosaurs. In fact, I’m glad those big leathery birds are gone, spooky things. Who would want a brontosaurus walking around, either? And the dodo, what a waste! Just his name sounds stupid. What value did he add? I like it when a species dies out because it makes more room for us and for safe tourism.

  35. Harry says:

    Let’s hope the Chinese keep up their excellent work and commitment helping these glorious critters live on planet earth.

  36. bradfrmphnx says:

    Mahmoud Al-Khouri…Well, I can assure you that when you are dead and gone, nobody is going to miss you either. Cheers! Brad

  37. Although I can kind of see where Chris Packham is coming from when one looks through a twisted lens, I think he misses the main problem: we cannot go on living at our level of consumption and expect species’ to survive.

  38. JGs mum says:

    As a trained scientist, I understand Anthony’s well-argued position (whether or not I agree with it). However, I would like to add a philosophical comment for consideration. Humans are merely one species of animal (albeit a highly developed and sophisticated one) amongst many on this planet. Humans are also subject to the same influences of evolution (for those who consider evolution is the most likely driving force to change); in fact, all their actions are driven by this so the mere act of considering whether attempts should be made to preserve another species is part of that evolution. (Extremist on either side of an argument are possibly a prerequisite to keeping the majority in a stable, central position). Those amongst us who have the strongest incentive (and ability) to effect a change will surely do so, whether it is the right change or not! This debate is all part of that process. PLEASE don’t stop commenting Anthony. It is essential that rational, intelligent and well-educated people continue to add their comment or else the argument will be weighted too heavily in favour of the rest.

  39. J says:

    The point is, despite Pandas being fluffy and cute, they don’t actually serve the ecosystem much purpose.

    I think Chris is well within his rights to say this, and I totally agree!

    I’m a student studying to work in conservation. We need to look at the bigger picture here.

    Yes it will be very sad if we loose the Giant Panda, and no one wants to see them go, but surely it’s better to use the money spent on Panda conservation to preserve habitats containing many different species (a greater bio-diversity)?!

    Despite humans being the cause for the Panda’s demise, we have to look at the number of habitats and other species being destroyed because of us.

    A greater number can be saved using the money from the Panda Conservation, then just saving one species.
    People need to think more responsibly here.

  40. Scott Dancer says:

    The point is, despite Pandas being fluffy and cute, they don’t actually serve the ecosystem much purpose. — J

    Using J’s logic, the exact samething can be said of humans.

    We don’t “serve” the ecosystem either.

    Humans destroy forests, pollute rivers and oceans, wage war, and over-populate the planet.

    So by extension, humans can’t even lay claim to being “fluffy and cute” so maybe we should go extinct? Our demise would certainly help cockroaches and rodents.

  41. JGs mum says:

    ‘Humans destroy forests, pollute rivers and oceans, wage war, and over-populate the planet.

    So by extension, humans can’t even lay claim to being “fluffy and cute” so maybe we should go extinct?’ – Scott

    To recap…we are just one species evolving amongst many. When it is appropriate for us to become extinct we surely will. After all, on the law of averages Yellow Stone Park is due for an eruption of mammoth proportions. Every effort on our part then will pale into insignificance … 🙂

  42. Drew says:

    Why is it the posters who claim to be scientists (we have no proof other than their words) seem to post comments that have an end-of-days quality?

    I’m not a scientist nor am I religious but I know this much to be true: Humanity can’t survive without fresh, clean water, adequate food and an intact ozone layer to protect us from the sun’s radiation.

    If the Chinese want to help the pandas survive, I say more power to them. If people don’t like it, write a complaint letter to Beijing.

  43. Anthony says:

    2 quick things. (Ok not as quick as I initially planned… As always. lolz)

    1) This has nothing to do with climate change or any wider issues of water scarcity (see middle east for the explosive possibilities there), or lack of food (Way to go the European Community which can be blamed for many issues for African farmers who don’t have to deal with wars, drought and corrupt governance). This issues is simple and focused. It is a cost / benefit analysis of where funding should go to support specific populations of animals and why.

    2) It is an international issue, in so far as the funding is associated with international charities. Again, if China wants to support its Panda population then that is wonderful and should be supported; national sovereignty should always be respected if not sacrosanct imo. But what Packham was trying to do was change the international narrative surrounding one species from one of “We MUST support EVERY species no matter what the cost.” to “We will do as much as we can with a realistic view of what we can achieve with the resources we have.” The problem with the first narrative is it ignores the fact we have finite resources and will to support animals as a wider society. The problem with the second narrative is.. Well it sucks. It has no strength of feeling and is ultimately weak. It is also correct 100%.

  44. Luniticisi says:

    I agree totally with “Anthony” on this .. but to add my two penny’s worth …..Yes it is unfortunate that species like the Giant Panda, Lions and Tigers, White Rhino and all of the other fabulous creatures of this earth are dying out (including the .. not so famous ones) . But the truth is no population will be willing (or able) to stop this trend … give it 50 years and there will not even be enough space for humanity on this planet… so what do we do … start killing off humans ‘cos it is the right thing to do? .. the truth is we have to accept extinction as a fact of life .. there are THOUSANDS of species that have become extinct without “Mans” influence (in fact some creature or plant has probably become extinct while you read this)..
    ……………………………………………..Just the facts

  45. Luniticisi says:

    Just to add this isn’t just about the animals, the simple facts are …our time is coming and that isn’t a religious thing it is
    …… just the facts

  46. JG says:

    Anthony – do you have a blog? If so please post link? You speak very logically and reflect my opinion On this subject exactly…I’d be interested in what else you have to say.

  47. Pingback: New Blog. Thank this wonderful people… « Anthony Constable's Blog

  48. JDShaw says:

    Reading the comments posted here I am struck by the Euro-centric and American-centric tone.

    Here are “the facts.”

    The government of China — not the European Union and not the USA, has made a decision that it is in their national interest to try and save the Giant Panda from extinction. What the Chinese deem to have value is really none of our business.

    Unless Chinese nationals start knocking at your door during the family dinner hour demanding you write a check to the “Save the Giant Panda Fund,” c/o of People’s Republic of China, then I think all of you need to MYOB and STFU.

    This manifest destiny mentality would be laughable were it not so embarrassing.

  49. JGs mum says:

    I would like to make two points in response to JDShaw’s comments:

    1. Please consider the billions of pounds/dollars in Aid that is SENT to China. Perhaps this could be reduced if China were to spend less on preserving the Panda? That does affect people in Europe and America, therefore they DO have a vested interest.

    2. Is it not possible for people to make reasonable well argued debate without being rude, offensive and emotive?

    PS. My first point does not reflect my inclination to either preserve or neglect the needs of the Panda, so please do not make any assumptions about that.

  50. JDShaw says:

    To JGs mum,

    I think you need to get your facts straight prior to hammering away at the keyboard. Here are the top 15 recipients for U.S. foreign aid:

    1.) Iraq – $18.44 billion
    2.) Israel – $2.62 billion
    3.) Egypt – $1.87 billion
    4.) Afghanistan – $1.77 billion
    5.) Colombia – $570 million
    6.) Jordan – $560 million
    7.) Pakistan – $390 million
    8.) Liberia – $210 million
    9.) Peru – $170 million
    10.) Ethiopia – $160 million
    11.) Bolivia – $150 million
    12.) Turkey – $150 million
    13.) Uganda – $140 million
    14.) Sudan – $140 million
    15.) Indonesia – $130 million

    Where is China? Oh, that’s right. China doesn’t appear on the list, so what the hell are you talking about?

    Again, I reiterate so focus and pay attention.

    What the Chinese deem to have value is really none of your business. If they wish to spend any amount of yuan to save the Giant Panda, it is their choice and none of your concern.

    I realize anyone who doesn’t agree with your European-centric view is naturally determined to be “rude, offensive and emotive.” But that still doesn’t make you correct.

  51. JGs mum says:

    1: I apologise for the use of the word ‘billions’ where ‘millions’ may have been more appropriate.
    2: I apologise for the use of ‘pounds’ where ‘euros’ would have been far more appropriate.
    3: I did not refer solely to the US.
    4: An indication of the top 15 countries is not evidence that there is no aid, especially as:
    5: You provide no references or sources for your valuations. Having looked through many web pages it would seem that these values alter according to the political and social bias of the author.
    6. I have never stated my opinion. I merely asked a question. I even went on to state that my first point was NOT an indication of my opinion. Perhaps I didn’t word that simply enough.
    7. Here are some links that may be considered.

    This one provdes a graph of the US Bilateral Economic Assistance to China between 1999 and 2007 from the Green Book:
    http://gbk.eads.usaidallnet.gov/query/do?_program=%2Feads%2Fgbk%2FcountryReport&unit=R&cocode=2CHN+&output=4&submit=Get+Data

    http://www.infowars.com/china-to-get-us-aid-under-new-climate-deal/
    which state
    “U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern said that there was “no question” that China would receive both financial and technological assistance from the United States as part of upcoming climate change talks to be conducted in Copenhagen, Denmark.”
    CNSNews
    June 16, 2009

    http://ec-an.eu/
    EU aids China with 128 million Euros
    October 21st, 2009
    The EU Aid programme has allocated over 128 million Euros to aid China over a 4 year span. The aide deal will carry through the year 2013 and will help China with:
    * Support for areas covered by EU-China policy dialogues, including bilateral relationship in trade, business exchanges, socio-economic development and support for the internal reform process
    * Global concerns over climate change, the environment, and energy
    * Human resources development
    These are seen as vital areas in which China requires aide in order to be a better global trading partner. This is all part of the EU-China Country Strategy Paper released in 2007.

    I’m not an economist but it does look like this is money that has moved in China’s direction. I have absolutely no problem with that. Nor do I have a problem with China or anyone else trying to save Panda’s or any other creature…I just enjoy a debate even if I may be wrong. Without debate the truth would never find its way to the top.

  52. Luniticisi says:

    **Applauds **

    well said!

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  54. Mike says:

    Nice post, please do post more such posts!

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