[Tweeters] Human and inhuman behaviors killing our seabirds

Stewart Wechsler ecostewart at quidnunc.net
Fri Oct 30 23:08:44 PDT 2009


(If this is a second post on this from me, it is because I sent a longer version, that included the post I was responding to, that got sent to the moderator for excessive length.)

Thanks to Michael Price for the excellent summary he gave on October 29th of the declines of most of our waterfowl in Vancouver, BC from the 70's and 80's and today in "Stanley Park/Burrard Inlet Declines".

The trends he documented are consistent with my observations in the Seattle area, though my memories / records in this area for that period are relatively spotty.

The following is, in my less than humble opinion, ON TOPIC and is about the birds we love. Please read on. As you read, I ask you to ask yourself what are any of the things you might do to contribute to turning the tide of these disturbing trends harming the birds we all love. I believe that responsible birding includes stewardship of their habitat, both on a local and global scale:

My understanding is that much of this decline of our waterfowl may be attributed to the effects of global warming, and likely to some degree the hand-in-hand acidification of the ocean due to Carbon Dioxide poisoning. Another critical factor is a global corporate fishing industry externalizes costs to long term fisheries and externalizes costs to the the whole ocean ecosystem, thus wreaking enormous long-term damage to ocean communities in the process of maximizing short-term profit. Oil corporation and commercial shipping oil spills may be important in the equation also. Other direct, indirect, intentional and unintentional dumping of plastics, chemicals and garbage into the ocean is most likely also critical. This includes anything that goes into a creek or river. I'll admit that my car that is now leaking oil is included.

Another factor in the decline of our water birds is the transformation of ever increasing amounts of surface area of the earth to commercial use and ecosystem damaging "development" *(see note below), thus damaging the sustainability, quality and connnectivity of remaining habitat patches. This commercial use includes oil extraction operations and other mining, unsustainable logging operations, as well as conversion of more natural land to housing and commercial buildings, roads and landscaping. Conversion to farmland, especially corporate style farming, is an important part of this also. Our spreading, and failure to control, ever multiplying non-native, invasive organisms is another critical factor in the degradation of habitats.

*(I tend to prefer the term "devastation" for what greedy "developers" a.k.a. "devastators" call "development". The natural communities they destroy took millions of years to "develop". Worse still, these devastators have had us refer to what might otherwise be called "developments" that took a million years to develop, as "undeveloped", implying that in their relatively Eden-like state they are unfulfilled lands until they are destroyed to make way for commercial develpment.)

There are surely other things that we (humans) and (inhuman) corporations and governments do that are impacting our water birds in their breeding homes, along their migratory routes and in their wintering homes. Most of these can be attributed to what I define as "greed". I don't believe that greed is wanting more than you need. I define "greed" as being willing to harm others or the natural world to get more than you need for yourself and your family's well-being. While our culture has been dominated by forces of greed and riddled by both conscious and unconscious greed for thousands of years, this "greed" has grown, over the last 60 years or so, at a rate, and to a level, never seen before.

I believe it is not enough to enjoy nature. If we are going to enjoy the birds, the wildflowers, the butterflies, fungi etc. it is our responsibility to live our lives in such a way that we have a net contribution to the long term protection and restoration of the natural communities that we love. We must ask what we can do to slow and reverse the trends of the last 50 to 5000 years of human (and corporate) greed. This includes both standing up to the most powerful entities in the world and thinking carefully about whether everything we buy and do is worth the ultimate ecological costs. It also includes asking ourselves what positive actions we can take to improve matters for our global and local plant and animal communities that ultimately sustain all of us, both physically and spiritually.


Stewart Wechsler
-Ecological Consultant - Nature Guide
Naturalist - Botanist
206 932-7225
ecostewart at quidnunc.net
-Advice on the most site-appropriate native plants to maximize the site's potential for native biodiversity
-Educational programs, nature walks, and field trips for schools, public and private groups
-Botanical Surveys

"Politics" is anytime someone speaks out in opposition to the will of any person or any entity with power.
If we don't speak truth to power we offer ourselves, our loved ones and our beloved earth up to our predators.
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