Mankind assumes that we are the smartest creatures on Earth, and as a result we freely slaughter astounding numbers of essentially all other creatures. Our selfish interests have never really tried to examine "greater value" of any such creatures, beyond the "Corporate bottom line" of their business goals of extreme material wealth.
A prime example is that in the 19th Century, we slaughtered millions of whales, for the single purpose of collecting the unique oil they naturally produce, which humanity then wanted for fuel for illumination. More recently, Japan very selfishly slaughters thousands of whales every year, allegedly for scientific purposes but actually to sell for valuable food products.
Around 3000 years ago, mankind had not yet invented any written language, so we were limited to "Oral Tradition", which greatly limited any "advancement" of civilization. A Greek man had to run 26 miles to alert his city of the results of the battle of Marathon. It was a few hundred years after that, the Greeks invented Science and Logic.A few rare people knew how to chisel hieroglyphic grooves into rocks, but in general, each human being never traveled beyond the village that he or she had been born in. We humans then had no method for communicating to anyone further than a few miles away except for walking over to visit. Even very slow postal mail then essentially didn't yet exist.
At that time, and for at least 40,000,000 years before that, whales had learned how to communicate for hundreds of miles, by subsonic sounds that can travel amazing distances through water. They also had "invented" a brilliant method of collecting food. Most of a pod of whales would swim in a circle, blowing bubbles. Thousands of fish which were within that "apparent net" were spooked and did not believe they could escape. Several of the whales (leaders) would then swim deep and then rise under the fish and rise with mouth open to capture huge numbers of fish. The youngest or lowest status whales would wait until last, to get their share. A few surviving modern whale pods still use this method.
In the enormous Pacific Ocean, Matriarch whales knew where their family had to swim to in order to find food fish, at different seasons every year. Clearly, their long distance communication shared such knowledge among the whale families (somehow), far beyond human communication of the time.
Clearly, whale Matriarchs also knew the importance of where the Sun was in the sky, during the day and during seasons, to know where they were in the oceans. Their mental map-making was impressive, where millions of whales had navigation capabilities for millions of years!
Whale Matriarchs clearly have had calendar and map skills for millions of years where they knew whento lead the family to Alaskan waters for feeding at a specific season, and how to efficiently get there. Clearly, Matriarchs have long been able to look up in the sky to see where the Sun is at any moment, and to know when sunrise and sunset would occur. Have they also been able to learn navigation skills due to Phases of the Moon or where the Moon is in the sky, or the importance of spacing between the Sun and Moon in the sky?
Whale Matriarchs may also have learned similar navigation and calendar importance of certain night star patterns, like realizing the importance of the North Star or where Sirius or Deneb or Orion's Belt is in the nightly sky. Could they have also learned, over thousands or millions of years, the importance of where the planet Venus or Jupiter is in the sky, again, for navigation and calendar purposes?
We humans eventually learned such patterns, and the importance of them, around 2500 years ago in ancient Greece, so imagine what importance that Whale Matriarchs might have attached to such sky patterns over thousands or millions of years!
It seems certain that with extensive communication skills and thousands and millions of years of learning where and when feeding grounds were important, whales knew when to head toward Alaskan waters or those near Baja California, or to other important seasonal feeding areas. That seems to imply that Whale Matriarchs may likely have realized that the Earth is not flat, that seasonal variations in how high the Sun was in the sky might have helped them understand where they were in their migration patterns.
Given that mankind only started getting a clue that the Earth is not flat only 500 years ago, Columbus et al, and Gutenberg only invented the printing press about that same time, is the "inferior nature of our intelligence" clearer?
My assertion is that, 3000 years ago, the most intelligent species on Earth might have been whales, which implies an impressive intelligence. Possibly the second most intelligent species at that time may have been elephants. Humans were nowhere close!
Yes, humans are born with "opposable thumbs", where we have had mechanical capability to follow up on various ideas that our brains have generated. However intelligent whale Matriarchs have been for millions of years, they have certainly been very limited in such ways. But just imagine what profound thoughts that whale Matriarchs must have thought about during the past 30,000,000 years or so!
Yet we slaughtered most of them just to get whale oil (and ivory from elephant tusks), and now to get Japanese food.
My assertion is also that if humans can ever figure out how to really communicate with whales, they may have hundreds of other "advanced" technologies that we have never thought of. In fact, I personally know how we might thoroughly communicate with a number of species, including several whale species, several elephant species, some lions, some dogs and other "lower animal forms". Unfortunately, man's history of abusing many technologies has led me to not teach mankind how that might be done. Given that modern terrorists freely kill themselves as long as they can also kill some of their enemies, mankind does not deserve to learn a technology where such individuals might then "exterminate" entire opposing armies in a moment. Some day, humans will learn such ability, I think maybe around the year 2075. It is really hard to see how any remaining animals or plants may survive much beyond that moment. So even though I would very much love to teach humans a very unique technology to communicate with whales and dogs, my ethics deny me that course.
This is akin to the "aboriginal" people in the Amazon who have long known hundreds of impressive medicines which they obtained from plants there. A few people are now trying to learn from the handful of remaining aborigines, before they all die off.
But that is not as idiotic as intentional killing off nearly all the whales.
Similarly, elephants, dolphins, porpoises, lions and many other species which had been successful for 30,000,000 years, and which we have found (business) excuses to kill off, quite possibly have countless brilliant insights that we have no clue about.
A related issue is a really stupid "corporate" approach regarding beached whales. A pod of 50 beached whales is often all euthanized, except for two or three very young ones which people feel they can carry back to the ocean. The eldest, the Matriarch, is never saved, because she is so big and heavy. The tiny infants which people (proudly) carry back to the ocean have no way of knowing where food is, or any of many other skills and talents they actually need to learn, to survive.
A "Philosophical Discussion" should be established to extend to many other species. Even dogs (in the US) where "natural" dogs are now immediately killed and only (so-called pure-bred) puppies, from only around 400 breeds that humans have declared valuable, sold from puppy mills are now available. Such puppies could not possibly learn the many natural skills needed from their parents, hich suggests that all "natural" dogs may soon disappear from earth. Politicians apparently think that they are so smart that they can provide all the natural knowledge and capability that any dog would ever need. The politicians are certainly wrong about that.
I guess I want "human civilization" to stop and discuss the immense value of the knowledge of Matriarchs of every species.
I note that human beings are currently demonstrating that we do not even seem capable for preserving our own species from self-extermination, with all the wars we start to kill off millions of other humans, along with Global Warming consequences of burning astounding amounts of coal, natural gas and petroleum, for the selfish purposes of a few powerful people. The Oil and Gas Industry publishes a Report each year, where they now announce that all of remaining known petroleum, world-wide, will have been found and dug up and burned by about the year 2045, less than 200 years after we first discovered petroleum in Pennsylvania in the 1860s! They also publish that we will also have extracted all the remaining known natural gas on Earth by about the year 2065.
So, considering the fact that we humans do not seem capable of preserving our own species, or the earth itself, I suppose it is to be expected that no humans give much thought to ever seriously trying to preserve the ocean's whales or elephants or lions, except in tiny efforts by small conservationist groups who may save a few. However, those efforts are never large enough to save "an entire pod of whales" or any entire family of elephants. Note that humans in the late 1800s used to enjoy themselves on railroad trains in shooting buffaloes out the windows, which killed off many million buffalo, nearly exterminating buffalo completely, merely for human entertainment! For many centuries prior to that, Native Indians occasionally killed a single buffalo for food, but even then they had extensive religious rites regarding the process.
Today, the only consideration seems to be the "Corporate bottom line" such as regarding Japanese organized efforts to kill thousands of whales every year, even when the rest of the world severely criticizes Japan for that project. It really is amazing how "shallow" we humans are regarding the Environment of our single planet Earth or regarding anything other than ourselves, and we are not very good even with those selfish motives!
We humans seem destined to leave a dead and quiet planet just a few centuries from now. Should we be proud of that accomplishment?
This presentation was first placed on the Internet in January 2016.