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Last night caught new reality show Extinct. Series concept: eight b-list celebrities champion the case of eight critically endangered species, and at the end of it, you the viewer, decide which animal is most worth saving. As the title sequence faded and Sir Trevor MacDonald stepped up to the mic I had a real future shock moment. This is the future, and we're saving the environment with game shows.

Fear not, though. The WWF are series partners, and have already navigated the moral maze for you. Money goes to all participating species, projects are clearly definied and acheiveable, and every ad break is accompanied by personal actions, urgings to donate money and educational facts.

Last night was birds vs. apes. Lucky Hyacinth Macaws, championed by two-fisted dirty tory boy Michael Portillo. Gasp! as he abseils up a tree, birdhandles tiny parrots, looks bemused when a Brazilian lady tells him pirahna soup is an aphrodisiac and effortlessly grasps the free market economics that have caught the bird in a double-sided twattage of illegal pet trading and habitat destruction. Not that the Hyacinth Macaw really needs much help as it clearly is the best parrot, three feet of chatty, sociable, sweet tempered gleaming blue plumage that will happily live with a human for sixty years. No wonder it's on the verge of extinction. Not as badly off as the poor, poor Orang-utans, though, championed by a vacuous Sadie Frost who fluffs her lines and whines while hugging orphaned orang-utan babies and saying how much they're like human children. Winsome with the emphasis on the wince. Planes are grounded by forest fires, so she has to drive to the various locations. We don't hear the end of it. The forest fires seem to be the major problem (well, clearing of native forests by human populations seems to be the major problem, quelle surprise) but the projects we visit are all about rescuing orphaned Orang-utans. It's not my idea of conservation.

I text MACAW to 63334 (30p of my 50p* gets through) and am rewarded by a return text thanking me and offering me the chance to buy Blue Macaw wallpaper for my phone at the amazing price of £3, 50p of which will go to charity. Welcome to the brave new world of conservation; don't forget to visit the sponsor's pages on your way out.

Coming up we have Anneka Rice chasing Polar Bears (isn't there a song about that?) odd celebrity interactions with tigers and turtles and some actor I've never heard of Poirot visiting the mad Chinese Panda breeders. It's survival of the cutest, but I'm not sure I'll be watching. After all, I've already done my bit.

* Network charges may vary.

Comments

( 39 worms — Feed the birds )
damiancugley
13th Dec, 2006 15:23 (UTC)
Polar Bears
Given that the most plausible rescue plan for polar bears involves seeding the Arctic with sulphur dust to reduce the rate of melting of the ice, I think the WWF may have its work cut out for it in this case.
applez
13th Dec, 2006 16:00 (UTC)
Re: Polar Bears
Umm...I don't think seeding the Arctic with sulphur dust will quite achieve that (actually it will decrease the albedo and increase melting) ... the dust has to be atmospheric, stratospheric, preferably.
benchilada
13th Dec, 2006 16:36 (UTC)
Re: Polar Bears
applez
13th Dec, 2006 19:15 (UTC)
Re: Polar Bears
Excellent! [/Monty Burns]

---

Still, I expect the climate skeptics and the wealthy will buy tickets aboard the next Luna One shuttle. If there is a god, they'll be wiped out in the next asteroid shower.
cleanskies
14th Dec, 2006 08:47 (UTC)
dude.
I'm glad he's not funded by my government...
(Anonymous)
14th Dec, 2006 14:25 (UTC)
Re: dude.
Yes - unfortunately, only the extreme lethal technologists seem to have the "leadership's" ear these days.
applez
14th Dec, 2006 14:26 (UTC)
Re: dude.
That was me.
zengineer
13th Dec, 2006 16:00 (UTC)
Re: Polar Bears
The latest story I saw had the whole polar cap melting in 2040. Hard to see how a polar bear can survive that. I imagine those that do survive will be become grizzlies.
stylishbastard
13th Dec, 2006 16:10 (UTC)
Re: Polar Bears
Or grow gills.
zengineer
13th Dec, 2006 16:24 (UTC)
Re: Polar Bears
Why is there never an evil scientist who wants a secret submarine polar lair protected by gilled polar bears aound when you need one?
cleanskies
14th Dec, 2006 08:49 (UTC)
Re: Polar Bears
But that's just seaworld, really. Evil seaworld.
applez
13th Dec, 2006 16:25 (UTC)
Re: Polar Bears
Actually, there are surprising (for researchers & field observers) new incidences of cross-breeding with other bear populations.

Otherwise, there is a future in SeaWorld.
stylishbastard
13th Dec, 2006 15:33 (UTC)
It's a funny old world. I can't really criticise in that I do bugger all to help orangutans OR parrots. Though if I saw one needing assistance, I would offer a friendly arm. Or some chips.
I quite like Michael Portillo.
cleanskies
13th Dec, 2006 15:37 (UTC)
grunting and sweating up brazilian trees
Forgot to link to the article Portillo wrote about the trip for the Guardian...

Luckily my mount was only one notch above clinically dead, which suited me well.
ellenlindner
13th Dec, 2006 15:59 (UTC)
Regarding Michael Portillo, I second that, even though I know it is very wrong. (That's what I've been told, anyway.)
juggzy
13th Dec, 2006 19:27 (UTC)
No no no. It's very right.
ellenlindner
13th Dec, 2006 15:42 (UTC)
Actors you've never heard of?!!!
David Suchet, a sex symbol for our times.
Better known as Agatha Christie's Poirot, coming every day at unpredictable times to an ITV3 near you.
Have to admit, I watched the panda/polar bear episode over the weekend at the pre-Christmas do at S's parents' house.
The Anneka Face Surgery segment on polar bears is pretty awful. I feel bad for those bears, they deserve better. But DS is a masterful spokesperson for the pandas, playing up their 'torrid' love life and sneaking in a promo for the Red Panda on the sly. Gotta love Poirot!
stylishbastard
13th Dec, 2006 15:47 (UTC)
No wonder his moustache is so perky
..coming every day at unpredictable times

Heeheeheeheeheeheeheeheehee
ellenlindner
13th Dec, 2006 15:57 (UTC)
Re: No wonder his moustache is so perky
Finally, a viable solution to the age-old question - just why DOES Poirot keep Captain Hastings around all the time?
Obviously, he doesn't contribute much to the sleuthing....but he has other uses. Apparently.
stylishbastard
13th Dec, 2006 22:36 (UTC)
Re: No wonder his moustache is so perky
They love the sleuthing.
cleanskies
13th Dec, 2006 15:49 (UTC)
Oh! It's Poirot! I thought I recognised him from somewhere. It's not like it's Columbo, though ...
ellenlindner
13th Dec, 2006 15:58 (UTC)
Oh man, don't get me started on Peter Falk!
I'm a fan... :)
applez
13th Dec, 2006 15:58 (UTC)
Game Show Conservation
Very likely future-shock, especially with idiots arguing for/against to the amusement of the masses.

I have to ask what happened to the inherent value of things? Everything, it seems, is valued only for its constructed social sense. It does open a horrific POV on the Iraq War, or HIV, or the environment...
zengineer
13th Dec, 2006 16:08 (UTC)
Re: Game Show Conservation
Perhaps a bit better than the strict economic value of something - that it is only worth the amount of cash someone will fork over to own it.
applez
13th Dec, 2006 16:26 (UTC)
Re: Game Show Conservation
I see. So we had best teach those Polar Bears to dance with tutus and funny hats then.
zengineer
13th Dec, 2006 16:58 (UTC)
Re: Game Show Conservation
Or get them decent lawyers who can make sure they get a cut every time they are shown on TV... or on Christmas cards.
applez
13th Dec, 2006 18:58 (UTC)
Re: Game Show Conservation
Make sure the lawyers get a cut? I thought that'd be a virtual certainty. ;-)
applez
13th Dec, 2006 18:59 (UTC)
Re: Game Show Conservation
On a more serious note:

It would be interesting if the animal-rights concepts actually got translated into human property law ... that wild animals have rights to their habitat.

Alas, we treat the rights of our own poorest shabbily enough...
zengineer
14th Dec, 2006 20:08 (UTC)
Re: Game Show Conservation
Indeed if our poor are not protected what is the chance of people giving other species who can't talk any rights.
cleanskies
14th Dec, 2006 08:58 (UTC)
poor polar bears and arctic foxes
When they lose their shiny white fur, they'll just be more vermin.

Still, at least they're not being harvested for random body parts or thrill-seeking hunters ...
applez
14th Dec, 2006 14:22 (UTC)
Re: poor polar bears and arctic foxes
lose their shiny white fur,

Translucent, technically. ;-p

Still, at least they're not being harvested for random body parts or thrill-seeking hunters ...

At least not yet. One wonders how long the existing 'domesticated' black bear population with implanted 'milking' tubes can sustain the gallblader fluid production.
cleanskies
14th Dec, 2006 08:56 (UTC)
economic value
One of the things that did impress me about Portillo was that he quickly grasped and communicated the fact that a key part of the local conservation efort had to be to make a bird in the wild more economically valuable than one in a cage heading for an American collector -- worth a cool £8,000 -- though I doubt that the local parrot poachers gets that.
zengineer
13th Dec, 2006 16:21 (UTC)
We were lucky enough to go to Coata Rica and saw 3 Macaws flapping along the beach. Also stumped up money to visit things in reserves. Because they have tourism they really value their reserves. In some sense the tax on the money we stumped up for hire cars, accommodation etc. supports Macaws in the wild. In some sense it is global warming and so destroying the environment and habitat.
For me more people means less untouched habitat for animals and there are more than enough people.
cleanskies
14th Dec, 2006 08:59 (UTC)
The reserves are a key part of the conservation efforts -- see what I said above about making a bird in the bush worth more than one in a cage.
stickismyfriend
13th Dec, 2006 23:21 (UTC)
I will call you 'interferes with birds'
"he abseils up a tree, birdhandles tiny parrots"

I know you were being precise but this hit me at an amusing angle

I think it was the thought of Tory birdhandling being a recognised misdemeanor greeted with a weary sigh and eyes raised to ceiling by overworked police inspectors ...and the RSPB

cleanskies
14th Dec, 2006 09:00 (UTC)
Re: I will call you 'interferes with birds'
Well, they are very, very blue parrots. And notoriously affectionate.
rufusfrog
14th Dec, 2006 09:27 (UTC)
Re: I will call you 'interferes with birds'
But it's the pelicans you really have to watch out for!

“He looks right into my eyes and puts on what I can only describe as a mating display, with his wings up and his head bowed down. He’ll walk over to me, snuggle in and preen me. He loves to take my hair or my hand in his mouth and he also plays with my shoelaces.”

http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2006/12/peliLDONALD071206_450x403.jpg
cleanskies
14th Dec, 2006 09:35 (UTC)
ah um
That's a very ... adoring look. Is it from some new expose? Celebrities who love birds too much and the birds who love them? Meantime -- Pelicans exposed as sex fiends as well as callous pigeon killers. Hmmm. What would you call that? Anthrophilia?
( 39 worms — Feed the birds )