“The life of the dead is set in the memory of the living.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero, Philippics
“The dead could only speak through the mouths of those left behind, and through the signs they left scattered behind them.”
― Robert Galbraith, The Cuckoo’s Calling
“All is forgotten in the stone halls of the dead. These are the rooms of ruin where the spiders spin and the great circuits fall quiet, one by one…”
― Stephen King, The Dark Tower
Ipso facto, without the dying there’d be no death trade.
Likewise, without the imminent loss of biodiversity, there’d be no recognisable cohort of NGOs etc. to fight the cause.
And finally, without global warming, there’d be no Extinction Rebellion or Client Earth (among other representative groups).
But who remembers the animals, insects, fish, fauna and land now extinct?
It goes without saying that, in a human context, the dead go on living in the minds and actions of those people who knew them or choose to remember them. That’s not the case for animals etc. Or not that I’m aware of. Yes, we might celebrate some by displaying them in a museum or by introducing them into the school curriculum, but that’s not really a recognition of their once beautiful life or lineage.
From a personal perspective, I’m old enough to remember when taxidermy was still fashionable and I distinctly remember my great-grandfather proudly displaying, in a glass case, a Twaite Shad that he’d caught — I think he held the British record at some point. But it was dead. And I’ll be honest, I found it disturbing. I mean, for god’s sake, the fish was once alive, happily swimming about before being landed. Just so you know this fish is now endangered (surprise, surprise):
“Shad numbers are massively reduced in Britain compared to several decades ago. Overfishing has played a part. Although shad had not been a food fish in Britain since the 1800s it is still caught and disposed of as bycatch. However, the biggest cause of the reduction of shad numbers is obstructions built into rivers such as dams, sluices, weirs and pumping stations. These structures have disrupted migratory patterns of shad and been the major cause of decimated shad numbers. A further problem is that these structures are often created to be ‘fish friendly’ and are passable by trout and salmon but cannot be passed by the smaller and weaker shad. Shad also need clean and clear water and pollution has played a part in reducing numbers. Today shad are absent from many areas where they were once abundant. In many major European rivers such as the Rhine, Elbe and Thames the shad is now officially classified as extinct. The last major place of abundant shad is in the north west of France. The rivers Usk, Wye and the River Severn are rare UK rivers where shad are known to spawn, but only remnant populations remain in other major rivers where the shad used to be common.” — see https://britishseafishing.co.uk/shad/
When you stand back and look at the loss of biodiversity, the scale of the problem is beyond comprehension. And whilst we might lament the loss of our favourite creature — even if it’s one we’ve only ever seen through a TV — whenever do we stop to properly mourn their loss? We don’t.
We’re completely indifferent.
In fact, even when we’re told certain animals are on the red list, we don’t mobilise ourselves, particularly or more especially in our buying habits which, in too many ways, are the root cause of the problem. (Think of the mass killing of animals, insects and flora/fauna in the pursuit of palm oil production.)
If I’m honest, I don’t know why I’m bothering to write this post. If we’re still arguing about climate change, the likelihood of anyone resting their attention on and recognising the dead and/or extinct animals etc is practically nil. But then again, perhaps one day we’ll look back on our egregious and hugely destructive behaviour and wonder why we cared so little for the living, let alone the dead.