What is the Far Side’s Gary Larson doing these days?

November 22, 2006 | By | 6 Replies More

No, sorry.  He’s not cartooning.   According to this article from USA Today, though, Larson has has recently released a calendar (of previously released cartoons), all of the profits going to help Conservation International

for the organization’s work to help end the illegal trade in Asian elephants, Indochinese tigers, Asiatic black bears, pangolins, freshwater turtles, and Siamese crocodiles in Cambodia. The profits will also fund an awareness campaign in China aimed at reducing acquisition of of threatened species for exotic dishes, traditional medicine and for pets. There are also projects in Indonesia and other southeast Asian countries as well.

According to the United Nation’s Millennium Ecosystem Assessment released last year, in the last 50 years

humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber and fuel. This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth.

The USA Today article presents a nice bio of Gary Larson, reminding us of his amazing accomplishments as a cartoonist (his daily cartoon appeared in newspapers from 1980 – 1995).  The reason Larson has re-emerged in public, however, is because of the desperate plight of numerous animal species:

Everything is getting filled in, dug up, overrun and generally made uninhabitable for everything but humans. Places where animals can live in peace, or at least live, are being destroyed at an increasing rate.

“Our species is rife with greed, war and destruction. But this is new. It’s all happening on our watch. It creeps me out, the rate at which we’re pushing species to extinction,” he says bleakly.

Larson clearly feels an affinity with animals, be they the “charismatic megafauna” that make us all want to race out and save the rainforest (there’s a reason the World Wildlife Fund uses the panda for its logo) or lesser newts.

So protecting wildlife is “at the top of my list,” he says. Some days he finds himself staring at the walls, wondering how things could have gone so terribly wrong for our planet. Donating the money from the calendar is one attempt at helping to fix it, and stop fixating on it.

“I’m trying to get it off my conscience,” he says.

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Category: Environment, Humor

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (6)

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  1. We are to be stewards of this planet. We have been given simple instructions about how to conduct our affairs and prefer to ignore {or argue about} them. The crazy shit that is being done in the name of man-made religion {materialism, americanism, consumerism, scientism, me-ism} will not much longer be tolerated. The prophecy says God will "…destroy them that destroy the earth." which obviously includes so-called "believers" who are following another god {ism}.

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    This post made me think about dirty floors.

    If I'm in a room with a clean floor, and if I accidentally drop something onto that clean floor, I'll pick it up. However, if I'm in a room with a dirty floor (a truck stop bathroom, for example), and if I accidentally drop something on that dirty floor, I probably won't pick it up. The lesson: a clean environment motivates me to actively keep it clean, while a dirty environment might cause me to make it even more dirty.

    This, I fear, might be the case with our wilderness environments. As long as we have untouched wilderness areas, we humans are inclined to keep them clean and untouched. However, if a wilderness area becomes soiled with even a little bit of human impact, there is a tendency for that to be the first of many human incursions.

    I think about this whenever a discussion about species extinction comes up. As long as we have wilderness areas with large, non-human mammals living in them, we humans will usually try to keep the areas clean and untouched. However, if (when?) the large, non-human mammals begin to go extinct, this will likely be the tipping point: the wilderness habitats of those mammals will become like a dirty floor and we will no longer worry about keeping them clean.

    Accordingly, one benefit of preserving large, non-human mammals in the wild is that they remind us to keep the place clean. Unfortunately, we seem to be rapidly nearing the point of exterminating many of our planet's large, wild mammals, making me wonder what we will do to our planet if and when we no longer see any clean places to keep clean. If we are not vigilant, we might find ourselves living in the planetary equivalent of a truck stop bathroom.

  3. Jason Rayl says:

    A lot of promises were made in the Old Testament that the enemies of the Chosen would be destroyed. Didn't happen, at least not in any fashion where a causal link could be seen. Wait around long enough, everything dies. If that's the value of prophecy, keep it. I'd rather work at solving the problems before us NOW rather wait for Yahweh (or whoever) to do it.

    I'm still not sure what Scientism is…

  4. gatomjp says:

    I agree Larry, the -isms are hurting us. (Fundamentalism being another one.)

    But I disagree with you insofar as I do not believe we are "stewards" of the planet. The "planet" doesn't need us and can do quite well without us. In fact, were we to completely destroy ourselves and the evironment, through pollution or radioactive fallout, the planet will eventually fix itself and repopulate itself as if we had never existed. As it has done after many cataclysms in the past.

    It is hubris to think that we are so powerful and important that we can make or break an entire planet. Besides, the sun is going to swallow it up in a few billion years so who are we saving it for?

    What IS important is that we CAN ruin the environment for US right now! WE might not be able to live on this planet anymore! A tragedy for us…just another day in the universe for everything else. Invoking the wrath of god hasn't done much to curb our path to destruction, has it? Maybe we need to take a different tack.

  5. Dan Klarmann says:

    Extreme preservationists would like to reintroduce species to North America that have been killed off by humans long before Europeans got there, like elephants (as a substitute for mastodons and mammoths) and Siberian tigers (as a substitute for the saber-tooth). There is no modern animal as big and dangerous as the Cave Bear was. This was a big and smart omnivore that could take down a mastodon! Where do you draw the line? Conservation makes sense, but attempts at prehistorical restoration are attempts to sweep back the tide.

    Global warming has been going on for 10,000 years, or else we'd still have summer ice fields in Nebraska and Forests in Egypt. But the modern (last 150 years) carbon dioxide boom is unmatched by anything since the Chicxulub impact. We've been warned.

  6. The "commons" is what always gets trashed. What everybody "owns" nobody owns. and therefore no one tales care of it. All the land should be divided and never sold. Leased, perhaps, for a period of years {until the sabbath} but stewardship always returns to the allottee family. Private "ownership" begats private interest. If a family is so inept as to mismanage, or destroy their allottment it's potential and it's wildlife, that small group would suffer, but not the whole landscape. It's like dividing one large windowpane into several small pieces of glass. A stray rock might break a small pane, but not the whole.

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