Every now and again, the Earth gets treated like a kid in a particularly heinous custody battle -- environmentalist attempts to do what's best for the ecosystem accidentally screw it up further instead. So without further ado, here are some incidents which will someday cause our lush green planet to skip school, get its asshole pierced, and go smoke bath salts behind the nearest Cracker Barrel.
6 Humans Try To Save Monarch Butterflies, End Up Making Them Lazy And Stupid
The monarch butterfly is easily the most recognizable butterfly in North America. They're particularly famous for their annual migration from Mexico to Canada, and for their usefulness in helping second-graders get C-pluses on science fair projects. ("This is a butterfly. I caught it in the yard.") The monarch is also dying off at an alarming rate. Some populations have declined by as much 90 percent since the '90s, and researchers think they know why. Monarchs rely on milkweed plants for food, mating spots, and egg-laying locations. However, milkweed is (duh) a weed, so humans keep killing it, inadvertently driving the monarchs away.
Even more effective than the Magna Carta.
In an effort to try to boost monarch numbers, many American gardeners began planting milkweed in their gardens to give the butterflies a place to eat and bang. But despite this altruistic planting of butterfly no-tell motels, monarch populations kept declining, sometimes at an even more rapid rate. What gives, weeds?
Well, these well-intentioned gardeners would have helped ... if they hadn't planted the wrong goddamn weed. Not all milkweed is created equal, and many gardeners planted tropical milkweed, a species which kills butterfly ambition. So rather than continue the migration (which is necessary to their life cycle), the monarchs would just settle down in their little milkweed patches and never leave, sort of like that star quarterback who ended up back in his parents' basement after dropping out of college.
Derek Ramsay/Wiki Commons
"If it hadn't been for my bad knee and those 12 DUI arrests, I could've gone pro."
The most ridiculous part is that there are 20 different varieties of milkweed that are A-OK for monarchs, but humans still managed to find the one that's terrible for them, which could mean no more cool science projects. Think of the children!
5 An Island Nation Severely Underestimates The Joys Of Fishing
The small Pacific island nation of Kiribati (population ~100,000) has a simple economy with two main industries: fishing and coconuts. The problem was that there were too many fishermen (or at least, too many good fishermen), so the government came up with a brilliant plan. In order to reduce overfishing, they would subsidize the coconut pickers. That way, the people would have an incentive to make more money, and the fish population would have a chance to recover.
While the government patted itself on the back for their flawless plan and passed around cigars, a grad student named Sheila Walsh thought to ask, "Hey, did your plan actually work?" Spoiler alert: It didn't.
Walsh came back and told them that fishing was up 33 percent, and that the reef's ecosystem was in dire straits as a result. It turns out that the people weren't exactly interested in having enough money to buy whatever leisure items you might possibly need on a gorgeous Pacific island. What they were interested in was having enough spare time to enjoy leisure activities out on their oceanic paradise ... like fishing.
By subsidizing coconuts, the government had accidentally gone with the option that took up less time. Folks could now earn more money in a shorter amount of time, and now all they wanted to do was fish -- which could incidentally be used as a further source of income. Damn you, prosperity, leisure, and industriousness! Damn you to hell!