Does the pangolin smile?

A title, The smile of the pangolin, both facetious and mysterious. And from the first pages, a questioning that makes you think: “We happily laugh at the archaic and anthropocentric beliefs that put the Earth at the center of the solar system. (…) But, three centuries later, we are still struggling not to put the human species at the center of the functioning of the terrestrial globe, apart from the rest of the living. “

→ READ. Save human health by preserving nature

In his work to be published on October 7 (1), Philippe Grandcolas, research director at the CNRS, at the head of the Institute for Systematics, Evolution, Biodiversity (2), reminds us that the error is disastrous. We are neither above nor apart from the rest of the living but we are part of it “Full” and absolutely depend on it for our food and health. Ignore it, recalls this great specialist in biodiversity, “Puts us in terrible danger”.

Technicist illusion

The Covid-19 crisis is a stinging illustration of this. And yet, nothing seems to distract us from the technicist illusion, the promise of infinite solutions whatever the damage caused around us. Are the bees disappearing? Whatever, we will fly pollinating drones! Rather than preserving the services rendered by nature, we would be ready to produce the plastic and aluminum for drones, their batteries, and to extract the rare metals necessary for their electronic components.

“Of course we need the technologies. The problem is that we burn natural capital, instead of living on its interests ”, says the author, who points out in his book that ecological systems have limited capacity and that we often ignore the cascading effects of our predations. “The living is dynamic, which we do not perceive well”, observes Philippe Grandcolas. As well as its multiple and complex interactions and its relentless strength – the difficulty in ridding ourselves of the Covid, which is constantly adapting, should however alert us.

The bet of “awakening”

“If building a house in a flood zone today seems like madness to us, deforesting or spreading a pesticide” seem like actions to us “Legitimate”, deplores the scientist, who for thirty years has worked in many countries as an ecologist, specialist in the study of animal behavior and the biology of evolution. His book, accessible and very precise, takes the gamble of us ” awake “ and help us “To become aware of the ignored or misunderstood diversity of living things”.

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With a message full of hope, despite the gravity of the situation. “Nature is an extraordinary source of happiness, we don’t have to make painful efforts”, remarks the research director. Eat healthy products in short circuits, protect yourself from heat peaks thanks to vegetation, for example. Or even be moved by the awkward look of a pangolin, which sometimes, with its strange toothless mouth, seems to smile at us …


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