“A grove of giant redwoods or sequoias should be kept just as we keep a great or beautiful cathedral. The extermination of the passenger pigeon meant that mankind was just so much poorer; exactly as in the case of the destruction of the cathedral at Rheims. And to lose the chance to see frigate-birds soaring in circles above the storm, or a file of pelicans winging their way homeward across the crimson afterglow of the sunset, or a myriad terns flashing in the bright light of midday as they hover in a shifting maze above the beach – why, the loss is like the loss of a gallery of the masterpieces of the artists of old time.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“Few problems are less recognized, but more important than, the accelerating disappearance of the earth’s biological resources. In pushing other species to extinction, humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which it is perched.” – Paul Ehrlich
“No one knows the diversity in the world, not even to the nearest order of magnitude. … We don’t know for sure how many species there are, where they can be found or how fast they’re disappearing. It’s like having astronomy without knowing where the stars are.” – Edward O. Wilson
“So long as the fur of the beaver was extensively employed as a material for fine hats, it bore a very high price, and the chase of this quadruped was so keen that naturalists feared its speedy consideration. When a Parisian manufacturer invented the silk hat, which soon came into almost universal use, the demand for beavers’ fur fell off, and this animal – whose habits, as we have seen, are an important agency in the formation of bogs and other modifications of forest nature – immediately began to increase, reappeared in haunts which we had long abandoned, and can no longer be regarded as rare enough to be in immediate danger of extirpation. Thus the convenience or the caprice of Parisian fashion has unconsciously exercised an influence which may sensibly affect the physical geography of a distant continent.” – George Perkins Marsh
“Life is extinct on other planets because their scientists were more advanced than ours.” – Anonymous
In the past few days we’ve all read the stories, or at least the headlines, concerning the puzzling instant death of large numbers of animals. Starting on January 1st, reports of thousands of red-wing blackbirds mysteriously falling from the sky in Arkansas. My curiosity was definitely piqued. And my curiosity was quickly fed with a report that 100,000 fish were found dead below the Ozark dam. Very disconcerting, having grown up in east Tennessee and seen the ramifications of both the pollution, and the culminating law suit concerning the Pigeon River. Big business against the health and welfare of a town, and in rural Appalachia, this was huge. So, how did I make the leap from dead birds and fish to large scale pollution of a river? Other than “easy, I just typed it” I have to say that this vaporous connection was what was formed with little or no coercion from outside forces. And I’m sure I’m not alone in making that connection. In the days following I’ve learned of: one hundred tons of fish in Brazil; Millions of fish in Maryland; Five hundred birds in Louisiana; Dead snapper in New Zealand; Hundreds of starlings and robins in Kentucky; Forty thousand crab in England; Fifty jackdaws in Sweden. All since New Year’s Eve! Conspiracy theorists are surely slavering at the thought of all the possibilities represented here. So am I one?
Alright why this blog post? Well, a week’s worth of dead animals is not necessarily a cause for alarm, even just looking at it statistically there are not enough data points to analyze. And if you dig just a bit, you’ll find that mass animal deaths are not a new or rare thing. And it is a big world out there; it sure could be just a strange coincidence. But the machine gun publishing of stories sure got us, well me, all stirred up. And now will come the debating. Scientific explanations will start being presented, some probably not so based on the scientific method, and of course the previously mentioned conspiracy theories. All these theories, explanations, and such will get misinterpreted, blended, mixed-up, mis-applied, and all sorts of other mis-things. And the media will continue grabbing our attention with more and more stories however so loosely connected to puzzling animal deaths: A poodle in Florida suddenly drops dead while eating scraps from the dinner table. All of this “white noise” raising the hysteria, and of course being completely shot down with (this time) plausible reasons and explanations. But is there… Could there be… a real trend forming here? It will be very hard to know. It will be so difficult to discern that pearl of truth in the bile of media feeding frenzy. Only the esoteric will have the ability to know. As for me, I am intelligent enough to know that species die out, just as new species are formed. I also know that the manufacturing plant down the road is not necessarily looking out for Gaia’s best interest! We must be aware. Not gullible, nor rigid in opinion, just aware.
Interestingly here is a google map tracking the recent mass animal deaths.
As you were.