Thursday, August 22, 2019

How Alike Are Lemmings, Humans and Wile E. Coyote?

With the Arctic being in the news so much lately, I’m reminded of a film,”White Wilderness”, that I watched in 1958. It was about the Arctic and showed lemmings plunging ‘en masse’ over a cliff, into the sea and drowning as they desperately searched for fresh resources. Sort of a ‘mass suicide’ resulting from the pressures exerted from overpopulation.

It turns out though that this popularized belief about lemmings is entirely false. The Disney film crew had actually staged and forced the lemmings off the cliff. Cruel? Definitely. But this was 1950s Hollywood, where animal cruelty was common. So killing off a few dozen rodents for the amusement of theater-going audiences was no big deal.

Note: This is reminiscent of antics used today in order to grab viewership or to sway public opinion. Usually this is harmless, like when Wile E. Coyote defies the laws of physics in pursuit of the Roadrunner. However, when an overwhelming volume of “climate science denial” social media, YouTube videos and propagandistic media both big and small using pseudoscience are produced for the unwary, I’m reminded of myself as an 8 year old falling prey to an concocted untruth.

Comment: Though the truth is that lemmings don’t commit mass suicide, mankind is apparently capable of doing so by first overpopulating and then by proceeding to deny the physical reality described by the Greenhouse Effect. The ‘cliff’ we are approaching is real enough, and unlike the cartoon cliff that Wile E. Coyote’s falls off again and again while defying death and gravity using cartoon physics, our being suspended indefinitely in midair over the abyss is about to end whether we look down or not.

Truth thru humor: