So Much Terrible Serendipity

There’s a thoughtful, beautifully written, and terrifying story about human/wildlife interaction, specifically an endangered seal in Hawai’i, at the New York Times Magazine site. The author, Jon Mooallem is the author of “Wild Ones,” a book about people and wild animals in America, out next week.

It was sad — every bit of it, and in so many freakish ways. NOAA was focused on saving an endangered species by repairing the ecology around it. But more and more, the success of conservation projects relies on a shadow ecology of human emotion and perception, variables that do not operate in any scientifically predictable way. Looking back, I was astonished by how the pieces just kept snapping together, and stubbornly locking in place, in exactly the worst way: how, at the public hearings, the government’s attempts to show respect and empathy were read as just more imperiousness; how reasonable the conspiracy theory about the monk seal’s origins actually seemed in context; how the one safe place the monk seals had found was under erratic Robinsonian rule. There was so much terrible serendipity. The story of monk seals was pocked with black swans.


  1. Lovely stuff. I'm not a big fan of the shape and style of American journalism (too long-winded, self-important and self-referential - me me me me me) but that example almost justifies it.

    And what a story!

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