Often history is depressing and forces us to be realists. Often it’s only the ironies that we can enjoy. But sometimes we see a tiny glimpse of cosmic justice (a glimpse tiny enough to demonstrate the utter lack of cosmic justice) and we can revel in the satisfaction of our fairy tale expectations. This is one such story:
For many decades, whalers would bring the whales they had caught to the Falkland Islands to process their catch. This meant burning the whale to melt the blubber and produce whale oil. But the Falkland Islands have no trees to burn so the whalers had to make use of whatever tinder was at hand. As it happens, penguins were both plentiful and covered in a healthy layer of flammable oil.
So the whalers would build a great pyre of burning penguins to roast their whales. After a while the populations of the four penguin species were dangerously small.
But salvation was at hand! Argentina wanted to reclaim the islands from Britain and the Falklands war ensued. By the end of the war, 20 000 land mines were laid on the island making it extremely dangerous for whalers to do their business there. But penguins are rather light, so light that their tiny bodies can’t trigger the land mines. The whaling and the penguin burning has stopped, and the penguin population has recovered.
I think the moral of this story is: don’t be so quick to condemn land mines?