Fictional Ecological Disaster

So a while ago, we watched James Cameron’s stunning opus of Avatar. I give him a lot of credit for making a pretty movie. A whole lot of people got mad at him for making some kind of glorious paean to Gaia worship or something. However, I didn’t take away the same eco-hippie narrative everybody else did.

To me, the blue 7 foot tall “natives” are no more native to Pandora than the humans. Look at every other creature on Pandora. Notice something funny about them? They’re all hexapeds. The only quadrupeds on Pandora are the Na’vi and humans. Folks, biology doesn’t work that way. Let’s look at Earth as an example, since it’s the only planet we’ve got. Mammals are quadrupeds on this planet. If a critter is part of kingdom Mammalia, it’s got 4 limbs, even if they’re vestigal (like whales). A radical restructuring from hex to quad is a fairly staggering change in a species, especially when all other species can get along fine with the hexapedal form.

Let’s look at the next oddity. Useful creatures have the magic USB jack the Na’vi can plug into and use to control the animal. Seriously? This isn’t questioned by anybody? How is a way for another organism to hijack your central nervous system an evolutionary asset? Put down the Gaia fetish and think about this. Do the killer panthers roaming the woods have this input? Or only the Pandoran draft animals? Hmm. If I were breeding animals to be useful, I’d sure like a direct neural control interface. Beats the hell out of a bridle and reins, doesn’t it?

Then the Pandorans have the magical back-up tree. The tree send filaments into you and basically downloads a copy of your consciousness into the Godtree server farm underground. Once again, are you hippies serious? A tree that downloads and transfers consciousness just grows in the woods? Why would a tree need to be able to do this? How does this benefit the organism? What, did it spend it’s time downloading panther brains before the Na’vi showed up? I can't think an ecological niche this tree fills with a mind-reading ability. However, a tree with this ability is damn sure useful to the Na'vi. Why, it's almost like the tree was designed to have a purpose for the Na'vi.

For a guy who’s spent as much time steeped in sci-fi as I have, the conclusions are obvious. The ancestral Na’vi showed up on Pandora from elsewhere, terrraformed the planet, genetically engineered the native species to be useful, and retired from productive work. At some point, the Na’vi forgot their past and now live in the wreckage of a technologically advanced civilization based on biological sciences.

Us dumb Terrans just wanted to get some rocks. We didn’t try to reshape the entire Pandoran ecosystem so it’d be more useful to us. I think if you want to look at the people who committed greater ecological crimes on Pandora, you need to look at the Na’vi.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home