Government gonna do what government gonna do: Dumping rat poison on the Galapagos Islands


Do you ever get the feeling that something that’s about to go down is a bad idea?  Please direct your attention to the Galapagos Islands.  In the early 17th century, whalers and other human travelers introduced a species of rats to the islands and have ever since made themselves quite at home.  Their population has exploded to the point that they’ve been accused of endangering indigenous species on the island.

What did the Ecuadorean government and conservationists groups come up with to “fix” the problem?  Just order 22 tons of rat poison to spread around a few of the islands, of course.  What could possibly go wrong?!

To increase the head-scratchiness of it, they’ve also captured and removed several species of animals while they fumigate the island.  And there are some great quotes…

“If we miss even one pregnant female, it won’t succeed.”  When there’s 180 million rats they have to kill, that doesn’t really inspire confidence in me.

“This is a very expensive but totally necessary way.”  I’ve never heard a government say that before.

The irony in all of this is that the Galapagos Islands are famous for their connection with Charles Darwin, who is famous for natural selection and evolution.  Darwin visited the island well after 100 years after the rats were brought there and I really wonder what he would think of all of this.  Clearly the rats are able to survive pretty darn well while some other animals have some adapting to do.  It’s funny—a bird carrying seeds from one place to another is considered nature at work, but somehow humans transporting new species to new places is considered to operate outside of the ecosystem.  In reality, we as humans are just players among all the others on earth.  Our lives and actions are just as natural as any bird, plant, or other organism.

I’m not a biologist or ecologist or any of the like, so I’m not an expert on this subject by any means.  New Zealand claims to have successfully eliminated its rat population on Campbell Island.  Like I said, our actions are part of nature, so regardless if it succeeds or if it fails miserably, life will move on and we’ll play our next move accordingly.  Furthermore, criticism of this project isn’t even why I’m writing this.

This solution to the rat infestation is pretty easy to make fun of, but it could end up working out well.  Animals and plants are controllable and can be organized to the liking of the people working on them.  You can take ownership of land and goods and do with them as you please and have an innumerable amount of ways to make it work for you.  It is up to the owner to decide the best way to treat the environment.  For example, you can survive as a hunter-gatherer or you can survive by farming.

Humans, on the other hand, are not meant to be owned.  We use logic and reason to act in self-interest to try to make the best of our lives.  We recognize the mutual benefits of working together and cooperation.

This is why it is wrong for the government to attempt to organize human actions.  When they identify a perceived wrong or injustice, government deems it necessary to change the natural (voluntary) order of things and impose on each person a set of rules.  Usually these actions are covered in good intentions, so it makes it difficult for some people to see why others would be against a given government action.  Yet more often than not, these government programs end up terrible failures.

The government wanted a more moral society in their view, so they banned alcohol with Prohibition.  Organized violence and crime ensued.  The War on Drugs isn’t much different.

Minimum wage laws are meant to make sure people earn decent money.  The result is the removal of the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.

The government got involved with the mortgage industry to make sure people could afford to buy a house and a major collapse resulted.

The Fed prints out tons of money to stimulate the economic.  The value of the dollar shrinks.

Regulations are supposed to keep cheaters from taking advantage of people and the system, but the cheaters write the regulations.

Poisoning an entire island illustrates the absurdity of the lengths government will go in their efforts to “fix” society.  Trying to restore an island to its state of being the home of only its indigenous wildlife isn’t the absurd part—the crazy thing about it is that this is how far government will go to solve a problem that has no effect on the wellbeing of humans.  If they’re willing to spend all of this time and money on killing rats on a few small islands, what are they willing to do solve the issues that do affect our daily lives?

Unfortunately, we’ve seen what they do too many times.