Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A footprint bigger than a continent.

Have you ever wondered why the geese and other migratory birds fly thousands of miles a year? They're winging their way over my house this month with their haunting cries as if to escape the falling leaves. Have you ever wondered why the salmon leave their spawning waters for a year of wide ranging travels in the ocean? One reason given by your grade school science book is that these migrations take animals to where the season gives them the best food.

Eh, maybe. Another reason will show up in that book in a few years after we dump the pro-industry and anti-science administration: they migrate so they won't become food for parasites. Just as our beef and pork feedlots feed us meat but pollute the environment, the burgeoning ring of fish farms around our coast are breeding grounds for marine parasites that escape to kill anywhere from 10 to 90% of the young fish in salmon schools with which they come in contact.

We suppose the rivers and forests and skies still look similar to the day europeans first set foot in America. But don't be fooled. Our footprint leaves no square inch of the country untainted. We will constantly discover yet more ways in which our excess consumption, by an inappropriately celebrated excess of humans*, has wiped out whole species or made them, and therefore our whole world, less healthy. You won't like soylent green.

*Hate to appear to disagree with a fellow progressive. Amy , I am solidly with you on what a social catastrophe this nation has bought by letting immigration law ooze forth from a collision of greed and phobia...but to look at our numbers as if only humans mattered will eventually hurt even the humans.

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