A long,melancholy roar

October 19, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Posted in Lifescape | Leave a comment
Of our ancient enemies, microbes are now the most fearsome.HIV/AIDS chalked up 2 million deaths across the planet in 2007 alone; tuberculosis was close behind, with more than 1,700,000.The year before, malaria escorted almost a million people to their graves. We should be far more scared of mosquitoes than we are of bears; but we’re not.

More recently, however, it’s been the case that the mammal most likely to kill a human is: a human. Murder and war have long been more important causes of death for us than predatory wild animals.

But here’s the thing. Today, in many parts of the world, the human being most likely to cause your violent death is: you.

Yes. You are the person most likely to kill yourself violently and on purpose. Suicide rates have risen dramatically over the past 50 years.

clipped from judson.blogs.nytimes.com

A Long, Melancholy Roar

October 13, 2009

On a recent evening at twilight, I was sitting on the grass in Regent’s Park — one of London’s most manicured public spaces — when I heard the fierce, melancholy sound of a lion’s roar.

I wasn’t dreaming: it was coming from the zoo. Listening to it, I began to reflect on predators — and us.

On returning home, I did some reading. I discovered that between 1990 and 2004, lions attacked 815 people in Tanzania, killing 563.
It’s hard to imagine how terrifying such a death must be.

For many of our fellow creatures, such terrors are part of daily life: other animals exist in a world of threat that humans today rarely glimpse. These days, thankfully, we are not used to being hunted. Most of us are more likely to be struck by lightning than we are to die at the paws of a bear or the teeth of a shark. And so we spend little time in that dark, primeval place of alarm, fear, adrenaline and (perhaps) gory death. For us, death usually comes in other forms.

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