June 19, 2007

First the bees, now the birds

"Last week, the Audubon Society released a new report describing the sharp and startling population decline of some of the most familiar and common birds in America: several kinds of sparrows, the Northern bobwhite, the Eastern meadowlark, the common grackle and the common tern. The average decline of the 20 species in the Audubon Society’s report is 68 percent.

Forty years ago, there were an estimated 31 million bobwhites. Now there are 5.5 million. Compared to the hundred-some condors presently in the wild, 5.5 million bobwhites sounds like a lot of birds. But what matters is the 25.5 million missing and the troubles that brought them down — and are all too likely to bring down the rest of them, too. So this is not extinction, but it is how things look before extinction happens."

"The trouble with humans is that even the smallest changes in our behavior require an epiphany. And yet compared to the fixity of other species, the narrowness of their habitats, the strictness of their diets, the precision of the niches they occupy, we are flexibility itself.

We look around us, expecting the rest of the world’s occupants to adapt to the changes that we have caused, when, in fact, we have the right to expect adaptation only from ourselves."

I often wonder about the theory of evolution and the notion of adaptability. When Darwin spoke of survival of the fittest, survival of the adaptable , he was talking about survival of the fecund. Nonetheless, he believed, and set out to prove, the process of gradual evolution, and this, in turn, is what we have been taught. However, as far as I’m aware, every hypothesized evolutionary step occurred prior to recorded history. If this is the case, and I’m not aware of even incremental evidence in my lifetime, or the lifetimes immediately preceding mine, perhaps this is sufficient evidence that the adaptable and fecund are we, the humans, merrily projecting adaptability onto other species, where none exits, other than in our wishing thinking.

Millions of missing birds, vanishing in plain sight


  1. Anonymous10:34 PM

    I've always said that you are one helluva smart lady Caz..
    Can't pull the wool over your eyes.
    Have to say Iam not a fan of Charles Darwin. Too many holes for me Caz!

  2. Whatever the case may have been, we seem to have put the kybosh on mutation and natural selection Kath.

    The other thing that induces a wry grin is our obsession with, and policies about, "diversity" in the workplace.

    Contrary to the constrant rhetoric (and there is lots of it, pretty much daily) we only seem to value diversity within a particular species, rather than diversity of species. Bit of a bummer really.

    Of course, there's still a chance that the vanishing of the birds and the bees is an incremental start to The Rapture.

  3. Yes - but it's when dinosaurs start to chase you down while you go to the supermarket to buy groceries that you really know end times are nigh!

  4. I'll, eeeerrrr, keep that in top of mind when I go hunting for tissues and coffee on Saturday Timmy.

    Thanks for the tip.

  5. Anonymous11:55 PM

    Hey Caz! How is the Princess's pink hair coming along.

    Afraid her blog is dormant at the moment..
    Got the little guy and her studies to contend with!
    Hope all is well!

  6. Good stuff, Caz. Pretty much the only evolution going on at the moment is the evolution we (well, geneticists and breeders) create through (sorry) "intelligent design."

  7. Yes, labradoodles are a marvellous and indispensable contribution to evolution Drunka, I've long thought so.

    Labradoodles and Dolly the sheep.

  8. Hair is still pink Kath, but relief from un-shampooed hair might be close at hand, with the receipt of yet another – and hopefully this time a truly – non-chemically contaminated shampoo, which might satisfy The Princess’s chemical-puritanism, and her scalp.

    Yes, as you have gathered, between studies, the big fella, and the little fella, her days are busy and often exhausting. Not much risk that The Princess will be taking up full time blogging any time soon. :-D