Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bats - plus Bees and Trees, Whales and Snails

Today it's sharing time - I have to try to fix the pictures on the DeadTreesDyingForest website!  Besides, these are two excellent essays that precisely express my sentiments much more concisely than I could. First though, a youtube video filmed in Detroit, which I found via The Downward Spiral.

[This is a recent, scathing, post from the Daily Impact.  Photos are from the flickr set, International Year of Forests, 2011.  It was a great year for trees.]
The Silence of the Bats

Is there anything Americans care less about than species extinction? It is as if their house were on fire, but they continue to watch TV because a) they didn’t need that stuff in the garage anyway, and b) it will probably go out by itself before it gets to the living room, c) it’s not their job to fight fires, and d) if it was really important it would be on television. Now that the fire has reached the living room — i.e., impending extinctions are a direct threat to the human food supply — Americans are at last responding. By turning up the TV.
Foret de Mont-Sainte-Odile, May 2009
I wrote here recently (The Silence of the Bees) about the ongoing devastation of the bee populations of American and Europe, which threatens crops that require pollination and provide about one third of our food supply. Meanwhile, another plague with some eerie similarities is laying waste the bat populations of the northeastern United States.
Chowan River, North Carolina, October 2006
Like the bees’ Colony Collapse Disorder, the bats’ White-Nose Syndrome has flickered occasionally across the magic flat-screen mirror on the wall, chiefly to give anchors the opportunity to display sophomoric humor. Surely the death of a few of these critters, and the concern of the people who crawl around the floors of filthy caves to count the bodies, have nothing to do with us?
Del Ray, California, August 2009
Last week, the cave-crawlers, who are in fact serious scientists, published their latest rigorous estimates of the number of bats to have succumbed to this mysterious disease. Not a few: nearly seven million. Seven times their previous estimate, made in 2009.
Bandhavgarh National Park, India, August 2006 
Patiently, the scientists explain when asked that there is, indeed, a human connection, a reason to believe that our living room is beginning to smolder. Bats, it turns out, are nature’s way of keeping insect populations — the ones that eat our crops and us — in check. A bat can eat its body weight in bugs every night. Those who don’t really care about the respite that gives growing crops should be reminded of this: the bats’ diet includes mosquitoes, which still kill more humans every year than any other creature. Smell the smoke yet?
Mont Sainte-Odile, Alsace, May 2009
White-Nose Syndrome, the name that induces giggles in ignorant TV anchors, derives from the fact that what is killing the bats is a fungus that destroys their skin and membranes, leaving behind a white powdery substance on their muzzles, ears and wings. By the time it appears on their noses, they are usually dead.
Although scientists know what is killing the bats, they don’t know any more about why than they do about the bees’ distress. European bats have the same fungus, but do not succumb to it. Why has it turned into a raging killer in the United States? We have no idea.
Cienfuegos, Cuba, January 2010
Now this epidemic, first observed in a cave near Albany, New York, has spread throughout the Northeast and into the Midwest. Seven million dead. According to Mylea Bayless, speaking for Bat Conservation International in Austin, Texas, “We’re watching a potential extinction event on the order of what we experienced with bison and passenger pigeons.”
Foret de Scherwiller, Alsace, November 2007
And if this array of facts does not persuade that it is time to turn off the flatscreen and try to find a fire extinguisher, consider one more unnerving fact: White-Nose Syndrome first came to our attention at almost exactly the same time — the winter of 2006-07 — as did Colony Collapse Disorder.
Kogoshima Island, Japan, October 2007
Coincidence? I had a friend once, a police detective who spent most of his life figuring out why bad things happened to bad people. What he learned, he told me over and over, is that there is no such thing as a coincidence.
It’s getting hard to see the TV in all this smoke.
Sumava National Park, Czech Republic, July 2011
[Following is the transcript of a bracing message from George Carlin (video below).  It's amusing how often his deeply bitter satire is mistaken by idiots looking for excuses to exploit and pollute!]
Franch-Comte, France, August 2011

Saving the Planet

We’re so self-important. So self-important. Everybody’s going to save something now. “Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save those snails.” And the greatest arrogance of all: save the planet. What? Are these fucking people kidding me? Save the planet, we don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven’t learned how to care for one another, we’re gonna save the fucking planet?
Les Avirons, Reunion, December 2010
I’m getting tired of that shit. Tired of that shit. I’m tired of fucking Earth Day, I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren’t enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world save for their Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don’t give a shit about the planet. They don’t care about the planet. Not in the abstract they don’t. Not in the abstract they don’t. You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They’re worried that some day in the future, they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn’t impress me.
Kartoszyn, Poland, July 2011
Besides, there is nothing wrong with the planet. Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are fucked. Difference. Difference. The planet is fine. Compared to the people, the planet is doing great. Been here four and a half billion years. Did you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years. We’ve been here, what, a hundred thousand? Maybe two hundred thousand? And we’ve only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over two hundred years. Two hundred years versus four and a half billion. And we have the CONCEIT to think that somehow we’re a threat? That somehow we’re gonna put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that’s just a-floatin’ around the sun?
Silver Falls State Park, Oregon, July 2011
The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles…hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages…And we think some plastic bags, and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet…the planet…the planet isn’t going anywhere. WE ARE!
Ontario, Canada, May 2008
We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks. We’re going away. And we won’t leave much of a trace, either. Thank God for that. Maybe a little styrofoam. Maybe. A little styrofoam. The planet’ll be here and we’ll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet’ll shake us off like a bad case of fleas. A surface nuisance.
Franche-Comte, France, August 2011
You wanna know how the planet’s doing? Ask those people at Pompeii, who are frozen into position from volcanic ash, how the planet’s doing. You wanna know if the planet’s all right, ask those people in Mexico City or Armenia or a hundred other places buried under thousands of tons of earthquake rubble, if they feel like a threat to the planet this week. Or how about those people in Kilowaia, Hawaii, who built their homes right next to an active volcano, and then wonder why they have lava in the living room.
Matheson Lake, British Columbia, January 2011
The planet will be here for a long, long, LONG time after we’re gone, and it will heal itself, it will cleanse itself, ’cause that’s what it does. It’s a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover, the earth will be renewed, and if it’s true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new pardigm: the earth plus plastic. The earth doesn’t share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn’t know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, “Why are we here?” Plastic…asshole.
Franche-Comte, France July 2011
So, the plastic is here, our job is done, we can be phased out now. And I think that’s begun. Don’t you think that’s already started? I think, to be fair, the planet sees us as a mild threat. Something to be dealt with. And the planet can defend itself in an organized, collective way, the way a beehive or an ant colony can. A collective defense mechanism. The planet will think of something. What would you do if you were the planet? How would you defend yourself against this troublesome, pesky species? Let’s see… Viruses. Viruses might be good. They seem vulnerable to viruses. And, uh…viruses are tricky, always mutating and forming new strains whenever a vaccine is developed. Perhaps, this first virus could be one that compromises the immune system of these creatures. Perhaps a human immunodeficiency virus, making them vulnerable to all sorts of other diseases and infections that might come along. And maybe it could be spread sexually, making them a little reluctant to engage in the act of reproduction.
British Columbia, Canada, March 2011
Well, that’s a poetic note. And it’s a start. And I can dream, can’t I? See I don’t worry about the little things: bees, trees, whales, snails. I think we’re part of a greater wisdom than we will ever understand. A higher order. Call it what you want. Know what I call it? The Big Electron. The Big Electron…whoooa. Whoooa. Whoooa. It doesn’t punish, it doesn’t reward, it doesn’t judge at all. It just is. And so are we. For a little while.


  1. Dutch study shows tree damage caused by EMF radiation. Tree bleeding and bark tears plus metallic, lead-like shine on bark matches my poor trees exactly.

  2. EMF attacks trees and citizens of the world.

  3. With or without bats mosquito populations have plummeted in Chicago area and S. Wisconsin. Most times and places where even 3 years ago sitting still outdoors would've only been practical with massive applications of DEET it was possible this past summer to sit and read a book or enjoy dinner on the patio without a single mosquito.

    I'll confess I still drive a car maybe 6000 miles a year. All last summer there was no bugsplat on the windshield. None at all.

  4. I noticed the same thing in New Jersey, anon. The little no-see-ums (gnats) that used to be a plague are gone, hardly any flies or mosquitos last summer and the g-damned pantry moth has all but disappeared.

    There were zillions of stink-bugs this fall, however!

    And I just read that jellyfish thrive in water that is too eutrophic for other fish, which explains a lot...sigh...


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