Of Salamanders and Mexicans


There are  a group of residents in an Ontario town that are opposing the building of a nearby quarry. Quarries as we all know are for construction as in gravel, rocks, sand: generally the stuff of capitalist expansionism.  This conflict between man and nature has been going on for decades. The number of wild animals on  the Earth has halved in the past 40 years. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats. Some kill  just for the joy of it…

                                                                                This could feed a village for weeks, the lion for days.

What some have discovered in the vicinity of this quarry,  is a rarely seen species of salamander, specifically a Jefferson dependant unisexual salamander, whatever that is. I had a pet salamander in my latency age  years and he was slimy, smelly and a bit boring, so I know the genus. The locals are appealing for its protection. Cynically I suppose they don’t want a noisy quarry in their backyard, but there are a few that oppose species decimation vs road building.  The Ontario government has now designated the species as a specially protected amphibian, which provides protection to the critter and its habitats. This is what happens when democratic socialist governance prevails over environmental exploitation-  amphibians can now rule….


This conflictual situation played out differently in the lawless plutocracy of Belize when a Mayan ruin was demolished to make road gravel. In a country that needs tourist dollars, manatees face poaching, boat collisions, food loss and fishing-line entanglement.

Other species are endangered due to excessive hunting and forest loss. The brown pelican, found in Belize , is on the endangered list as a result of pesticides that cause their  eggshells to become too thin to support the successful maturity and hatching of pelican eggs.  Other endangered birds include toucans, wood storks, egrets, amazons and herons.

Greed and money often trump the environment (pun intended). This ultimately destructive philosophy is what is leading to climate change, songbird decline, the greening of Antarctica and the  destruction of our planet by oil spills, rising sea levels and plastic garbage.

The salamander  issue begs the question of what matters in life?

 The need for the accumulation of things:  conspicuous consumption and wretched excess.  The end result of that choice is ultimately ecological decline and decay.

Conspicuous consumption def: I had a patient who had in his possession no less than 5 vehicles, a boat, two snow machines, and 3 homes, 2 local and one in Florida. Naturally this materialism was the end result of debt driven consumerism. He also weighed in at 300 lbs and was on several medications for depression, hypertension and high cholesterol.

Wretched excess def:

                                                                                                                    50k$ Jacket

The answer to the question of what matters in life might be found in Mexico. Mexico is ranked as one of the happiest countries on the planet and is also the number 1 expat relocation destination.

I have traveled this country from Matamoros on the Tex -Mex border to Chetumal on the Belize border and up the Costa Maya to Merida. This is a street scene in Mexico..

and in contrast further north…

Here is what I  think it is:  Firstly compared to the other happiest nations, folks there are poor, with little healthcare, poor education, and shorter life expectancies.

But Mexicans have a different sense of satisfaction.People work hard to acquire whatever they need  to live the life they (and their families) are comfortable with. Then, they go enjoy it.You say yes to the flimsiest excuse for a party. You say yes to a friend who stops by and wants to catch up for three hours. You say yes to your family, every time, no matter what- La familia es todo.

More smiles. More fun with the people who matter. Tequila, tamales and religion. Being is more important than becoming. Experience more treasured than acquisitions. This seems to be their answer to the big existential questions.

In conclusion therefore it should come as no surprise that scientists, farmers and government have teamed to save a revered Mexican amphibian the axolotl salamander….



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2 Responses to “Of Salamanders and Mexicans”

  1. Carole Kocian says:

    There is an invasive species of cedar/juniper tree in the wild of these parts. If eliminated, it would be a gift to citizens in pollen season and it would also lighten the load on the water table in a semi-desert part of the state. But there is an endangered warbler of some sort that eats that tree’s berry. So the trees are perpetuated.

  2. Claude Francis says:

    Unfortunately we’re going to leave a legacy of discarded treasures that had dubious value at the time they were acquired. Any and all of these items need to be dealt with sooner or later. We can’t take them with us when we go so we leave a legacy of “stuff” acquired over a lifetime. Some of these items will have some intrinsic value a may be handed down, sold or re-purposed in some way. The stuff deemed to be junk will make it’s way into our landfill sites where it will sit for ages taking up valuable green space and leaching toxic chemicals into the ground water.
    I’ve seen the endless line of vehicles laden with all manner or discarded items during the so called spring clean up.
    I guess my point is that we keep buying virtually useless items that have short term usefulness and create a long term problem in terms of disposing of these items in a safe a responsible manner. The “stuff just doesn’t disappear. Something to think about before buying that special toy to please our kids and grandchildren. They are the ones that will have to deal with ever expanding landfills that threaten to take over more wildlife habitat and pose an environmental threat to both man and beast. It’s a fragile system whose balance is easily upset by the activity of us all in the name of progress and prosperity. Sometimes less is more, whether it’s a quarry expansion threatening a rare salamander or the constant supply of mostly plastic goods churned out by countries such as China for consumption in the hungry for “frivolous goods” countries across the globe. There’s a price to pay for this consumption of disposable goods. We hear more and more stories of marine life being threatened by the endless stream of plastics making it’s way into the oceans around the world.
    Once again we need to be part of the solution and not be contributing to an ever increasing problem for future generations to deal with.

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