Struggling to make sense of the situation

Seeking to understand why humans fail to prevent the extinction, or near extinction of species, is nothing new. In this post I provide 3 early examples of authors struggling to make sense of the California condor’s plight. These examples are from the 1920s and 1930s.

To emphasize that the words under consideration here are nearly a century old, I show scans of the text from the original printed sources (in my library).

In his The Birds of California (South Moulton 1923), William Leon Dawson agonizes over where the blame lies for the condor’s situation, legal remedies, human progress, and the well-being of a species living under civilization’s pressure:

Carroll Dewilton Scott wrote about the California condor in the December 1936 issue of Nature Magazine.

Scott’s article is titled “Who Killed the Condors?” In responding to the question he posed, the author struggles with the growing human population of California, a lost opportunity for past action, and humans’ priorities:

“The Passing of the California Condor”, by William L and Irene Finley, appeared in the August 1926 issue of the same Nature Magazine.

In their article, the Finleys are literally in a questioning frame of mind. Here are 2 excerpts:

That last sentence, which broadens the lessons of the California condor to all bird species, is a punch to the gut from nearly 100 years ago. Again:

Why instill in the hearts of our sons and daughters this love for the children of the wild, if we meantime exterminate them?

For another post in a similar vein, see Important essays: 1903 & 1948.

For more from Dawson’s book, see the posts Black & white photos from books: 1906-1999 and Lofty language.

For more from Scott’s article, see Various published photos: 1909-1987.

For more from the Finleys’ article, see the posts Black and Passing.