Aflockalypse A Distraction From Real Endangered Species
Birds falling form the sky. The aflockalypse is here! Then the fish in Chesapeake Bay. Two million of them, dead. Then the crabs in Britain (please, no jokes, most of the Republicans were home at that time). Panic spread among Americans. Surely evil is among us and our days are numbered. The far right went nuts embracing End Times and many found new and amusing ways to blame the President and the gays for this.
Turns out, not so much. These mass die offs are actually common. What’s new to the scene is how fast information is disseminated and how we share and interpret information. Blogs, Facebook, twitter and our phones – the incoming never ends and such incoming isn’t necessarily fact-checked. Remember the TSA scandal that wasn’t and yet somehow managed to find itself all over the internet until it bled into mainstream news? Apparently our smart phones are making us paranoid as well as anti-social. Such a pity.
Biologists say (yes, they are scientists so we may be losing some of our finer critics at this point) that mass die offs occur all of the time. But in the past we haven’t been lying in wait to connect information that may not be connected. Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson says,
“This instant and global communication, it’s just a human instinct to read mystery and portents of dangers and wondrous things in events that are unusual.Not to worry, these are not portents that the world is about to come to an end.”
See, people? The interwebs are a dangerous place for the tin foil hat crowd.
MSNBC.MSN gives us a Quick Reality Check:
95 mass die-offs
Since the 1970s, the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center in Wisconsin has tracked mass deaths among birds, fish and other critters, said wildlife disease specialist LeAnn White. At times the sky and the streams just turn deadly. Sometimes it’s disease, sometimes pollution. Other times it’s just a mystery.
In the past eight months, the USGS has logged 95 mass wildlife die-offs in North America and that’s probably a dramatic undercount, White said. The list includes 900 some turkey vultures that seemed to drown and starve in the Florida Keys, 4,300 ducks killed by parasites in Minnesota, 1,500 salamanders done in by a virus in Idaho, 2,000 bats that died of rabies in Texas, and the still mysterious death of 2,750 sea birds in California.
On average, 163 such events are reported to the federal government each year, according to USGS records. And there have been much larger die-offs than the 3,000 blackbirds in Arkansas. Twice in the summer of 1996, more than 100,000 ducks died of botulism in Canada.
“Depending on the species, these things don’t even get reported,” White said.
Wilson urges us to pay attention to the more important dying off of endangered species that are being largely ignored right now. Well, he would, being an elitist scientist. I wish someone would explain to him that End Times are a good thing, hence we must use all of our natural resources up as quickly as possible so as to hasten End Times along because Jesus wants us all to die and the animals first. That’s why God gave us life. Doh.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to put down the Crackberries for a minute. End Times are not upon us but clearly a failure to rationalize is upon us. We’re becoming even more prone to paranoia in our attempts to make sense of events we don’t understand. Come now, people, the only thing we have to fear is Republicans wasting all of our tax payer dollars and killing the economy in a desperate effort to have a fighting chance in 2012. And you didn’t even need an app for that.