Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Our" Ancestors?

Politically correct thinking is that the first human inhabitants of Australia were environmentally attuned to the land. This indigenous "care for the environment" is contrasted with the rapacious effects of European settlement.

Well, this story about extinctions in Tasmania 'due to humans not climate' gives evidence that the first inhabitants were not so environmentally attuned as legend has it.

One hilarious blooper is Professor Chris Turney's reflection that "It is sad to know that our ancestors played such a major role in the extinction of these species". "Our" ancestors, Professor?

What is sad - in fact criminal - is that the human indigenous population of Tasmania was itself wiped out - and that was indeed due to European settlers. I might fell justified in pointing out that it was not my ancestors who did this; but then I pause and reflect on the fact that there are not many indigenous people living in the Barrossa Valley these days either...

Mind you, there are plenty of folk who will not accept this new finding (that the aboriginal migration 46,000 years ago and not climate change was the cause of mass extinction). For eg. Dr Judith Field, who says in this SMH article that "the conclusion that humans wiped out the megafauna remained 'in the realms of speculative fantasy'".

Science, like religion, has its heretics.

5 Comments:

At Tuesday, August 12, 2008 12:23:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

Some Tasmanians of aboriginal descent take exception to the idea that Tasmanian aborigines were wiped out altogether, since there are even some who live on Cape Barren Island who apparently live quite a traditional lifestyle.

However, the whole history is appalling and something to be heartily ashamed of (even though none of my ancestors were here at the time).

 
At Tuesday, August 12, 2008 12:24:00 pm , Blogger Louise said...

Some scientists treat science (worthy thing that it is, within its own limits) as a religion, to be sure.

 
At Tuesday, August 12, 2008 12:35:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Yes, I find it an interesting to reflect on the degree to which guilt of the fathers is inherited by the children - or indeed how the guilt of anyone else can be in any sense my guilt - especially in the light of the current vogue for giving apologies for acts of which one is not personally guilty (or demanding such from people who did not do the act). Does guilt die with the the guilty?

 
At Tuesday, August 12, 2008 1:00:00 pm , Anonymous Clara said...

I do not think we are personally guilty, but if the actions of previous generations are created a situation for present injustice, then as a society we need to make amends. We are not so much addressing the past, as the conditions in the present.

 
At Tuesday, August 12, 2008 1:51:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

I find it an interesting to reflect on the degree to which guilt of the fathers is inherited by the children - or indeed how the guilt of anyone else can be in any sense my guilt - especially in the light of the current vogue for giving apologies for acts of which one is not personally guilty (or demanding such from people who did not do the act). Does guilt die with the the guilty?

Ah, that’s your inner Protestant speaking, David. If “communion” means anything, one of the things it means is that we’re in this together. We walk the journey of faith as a community as well as individually, and the failure of one affects us all. so, yes, the Australian community has responsibilities as a community, and these responsibilities include the responsibility of redressing, in so far as we can, past wrongs perpetrated by, or within, the Australian community, even if every individual who made up the community at the time has since died. If “sorry” is a part of the that redress, then so be it. if there are those who cannot understand “sorry” as anything other than an admission of direct, personal, individual guilt well, that reflects the limitations of their understanding, but there is no reason why the nation should be constrained by those limitiations, and there are compelling reasons why it should not be.

 

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