Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How soon comes our next Silent Spring?

Today, driving past a picked corn field, I saw two bald eagles feeding next to each other. I couldn't make out what they were feeding on but my guess is they had pulled some scraps from the road-kill deer in the roadway ditch. We've been seeing more and more eagles around our neck of the woods. They're not as common as starlings or robins, but they're also not as scarce as they were back in the days when we were spraying hell out everything with DDT. Do you remember the issues with many raptors (near the top of a food chain) laying eggs with excessively thin shells and failure to produce offspring? For many Americans these days, that must seem like ancient history.

bald eagle pair
bald eagle pair
Photo by J. Harrington

It's also been a long time since a river caught fire in the United States. The Cuyahoga River fire of 1969 occurred within a decade of the publication of Silent Spring [1962]. The latter ultimately led to a ban in the U.S. of DDT. The former to the Clean Water Act of 1972.

The chemical/pesticide industry tried to discredit Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring. They were much less successful than those who have created doubt and uncertainty about the effects of cigarette smoke and the sources and effects of accumulating green house gases. If we, once upon a time, could reverse the decline of bald eagles and other raptors, if we could ban the use of DDT in the U.S., why does it appear that the next president of the U.S. will be someone who attributes global warming to a "Chinese hoax?"

bald eagle shadowed by a crow
bald eagle shadowed by a crow
Photo by J. Harrington

How is it that, long, long ago, in a country far, far away, we had an ability to forge a consensus and create a nation of immigrants, while today we can't even communicate with civility if we disagree with our neighbor next door? Have we become so self-centered and self-righteous as individual citizens that we can't accept the idea we may be incorrect and imperfect? Have we become so insecure that we can't tolerate anyone who disagrees with us? Have we managed to dumb down our educational system to the point that it only turns out citizen drones that can neither fly nor navigate for themselves because both require the ability to think critically?

It's taken us several generations to restore our national symbol to a healthy status. I don't think we have as much time to spare while we do the same for our body politic. Continuing to segregate ourselves into communities and neighborhoods filled with those who think and act just like we do is not serving us well. Nature abjures monocultures. So should we. It just isn't healthy. Distilled water won't poison you, but neither will it nourish you. As you make your list for Santa this year, think about what you need as well as what you want. See how that works out.

Eagle Plain

The American eagle is not aware he is
the American eagle. He is never tempted
to look modest.

When orators advertise the American eagle’s
virtues, the American eagle is not listening.
This is his virtue.

He is somewhere else, he is mountains away
but even if he were near he would never
make an audience.

The American eagle never says he will serve
if drafted, will dutifully serve etc. He is
not at our service.

If we have honored him we have honored one
who unequivocally honors himself by
overlooking us.

He does not know the meaning of magnificent.
Perhaps we do not altogether either
who cannot touch him.

Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.