Monday, June 07, 2010

What if?

Animals are better than humans at dealing with whatever Grandmother Nature tosses at them. My chickens and dogs were unfazed by the recent earthquake. Straight –line winds that downed trees and tore down signs didn’t faze the squirrel that broke into my bird feeders. I think the one cardinal even sang throughout those winds. Of course, I’ve heard the cardinal singing more or less during a heavy snow, so I’m not sure he should count. I mean, did he really think he’d find his lady love during a snowstorm? That can’t be normal.

Still, wild animals are remarkably resilient. They certainly don’t dwell on the “what ifs” the way humans do. They don’t think about how that storm would have affected them if only it had traveled a quarter mile to the west or if that tornado had touched ground instead of staying above it. They simply go on about their business for as long as they can.

For the animals in the Gulf of Mexico, life may never be normal again. And they have few options. Breeding grounds are destroyed, and birds still healthy try to return to their young and eggs, even when both are in areas inundated by toxic oil. Extinction for some species is certainly possible—sperm whales, mottled duck, some shorebirds to name a few I know about. Their food sources are gone. The oil slick is huge.

All species have a niche on our planet and serve a purpose to help maintain its health. Humans currently don’t understand all the relationships, but the one thing I’m certain of is that they exist. A great blue heron didn’t evolve simply so I could enjoy its beauty. Sunlight triggers sea grass growth, which provides habitat for fish, which attract the great blue heron.

We can’t continue to destroy large and small chunks of our planet and its species and expect our own lives to continue in a business as usual mode. That’s the ostrich with its head in the sand. It’s long past time for humans to take our collective heads out of the sand and wake up.

Because we are the one species who can think about the “what ifs” of how we fit on this planet amongst all its wonders, it’s time we do so while we still can. It will be for our own sakes, as well as for the lives of all of the creatures with whom we share this planet.

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