A few years ago I took it upon myself to write a musical adaptation of THE UGLY DUCKLING. When I was preparing, my wife said we should visit the swans at the Swan Pond in Manlius. So we went to the Pond, well known in the area, and watched swans interacting with ducks.
Not all of these interactions went well. Swans can be vicious, and a couple of the swans pecked at the ducks on occasion. Some of this viciousness went into the characterization of DL, the troubled cygnet in the musical I subsequently wrote.
Recently swans have been the subject of considerable controversy in New York. The State initially proposed to eliminate swans. The rationale behind this is that swans are not native to the northeastern U.S., that they were brought here in the late 1800s and since then they have been, without natural enemies here, a nuisance to parks, geese and aviation.
Because of the public outcry, the State has backed off the initial proposal. Now it proposes that MOST mute swans here are eliminated. It is immediately apparent that the state’s reasoning is faulty and its arguments ill-informed. The length of time swans have been here is now considerable. Swans have in fact found an environmental niche here.
But the implications of the proposal are more profound. Over the past two years the voices arguing against the existence of climate change have become relatively quiet. It is clear that the earth’s climate has changed. It is also apparent that our environmental recklessness and irresponsibility have been, at least, a contributing factor to climate change.
Less spoken of than climate change, however, has been humanity’s contribution to the extinction of other species. In recent centuries, as humanity’s domination over the earth has, with the help of technology, become more absolute, this process has sped up. Among species still surviving, the wolf, the bald eagle and the whale have all been threatened with extinction.
New York, by legislation or otherwise, should not contribute to threatened survival of other species. Its proposal should be defeated.
The earth, sea and sky are not ours alone.