Of Spiders and Smelt

Of Spiders and Smelt

Greg Barlow

Recently a Texas road construction project was postponed because of the discovery of a rare species of spider.  The project will not resume until scientists have fully evaluated the risks to the spider’s habitat posed by a continuation of the project.

Thousands of acres of productive farmland in central California have been turned to desert and the local economy ruined so that irrigation water can be returned to the Sacramento River.  The habitat of a small fish referred to as the Delta Smelt was deemed more important than the economic needs of the local farming community.

To many, the natural habitat of every living organism is sacred, perhaps rightfully so.  It is a rare day that ‘habitat’ loses a legal or for that matter a PR battle against economic or other interests.

So what of our human habitat?  More specifically what of the habitat of our children?  Biology requires that as humans we need a mother and a father, research also affirms that the outcome for children is far superior when a child grows to adulthood with his or her biological parents in a married household.  The nature of the ideal habitat for children is well known; unfortunately we fail to give the same level of deference to the habitat of our children that we demand for spiders and fish.

Perhaps there should be a law that requires an ‘environmental impact study’ performed on behalf of children prior to allowing parents to proceed with a divorce.  Prior to cohabiting, a similar study should be required so that a single mother fully understands the grave damage a live-in boy friend could inflict upon her children and their habitat.[i]

Same-sex marriage and gay adoption just might lose a bit of luster when we objectively consider just what a child is losing when removed from its natural mother/father habitat and placed in such an arrangement.

Of course abortion is the ultimate destruction of habitat.  We allow the humanity of an unborn child to be defined away so that its habitat can be invaded for the purpose of destroying it.  It would be difficult to imagine a civil society allowing similar savagery visited upon any non-human animal.

What can be said of a species that fails to seek, protect and nurture the ideal habitat of its young?  As we continue to allow the natural and essential habitat of our children to be violated, degraded, and polluted we may be wise to prepare for the far-reaching and inevitable consequences.  Sadly, I seem to envy the smelt…


[i] Evidence suggests that the least safe of all environments for children is that in which the mother is living with someone other than the child’s biological father. This is the environment for the majority of children in cohabiting couple households.  David Popenoe and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, “Should We Live Together?  What Young Couples Need to Know about Cohabitation Before Marriage,” National Marriage Project, 1999.  http://marriage.rutgers.edu/publicat.htm.

A British study found that children living with cohabiting biological parents who are unmarried are 20 times more likely to be abused and children whose mother lives with a boyfriend who is not the biological father are 33 times more likely to be abused than children living with married biological parents.   Robert Whelan, “Broken Homes and Battered Children, 1993.  Patrick Fagan and Kirk A. Johnson, “Marriage: The Safest place for Women and Children,” The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder Report no. 1535, 10 April, 2002. p. 3, http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/BG1535.cfm

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