What’s going on? Why are all the birds and fish dying? Look at this list, which may not be completely up to date:
- 8,000 turtle doves fall dead in Italy with strange blue stains on their beaks,
- 40,000 velvet swimming crabs found dead on British beaches,
- Hundreds of dead snapper fish washed ashore in New Zealand this week. It followed the dead penguins that have been washing up on northern beaches of New Zealand for several weeks now,
- 70 bats found dead in Tuscon, Ariz., last week,
- 100 crows in the town of Falkoping, Sweden
- A large fish kill of shad near Sarnia, Ontario, across from the Michigan thumb,
- Thousands of dead fish washed ashore along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland,
- More than 150 tons of dead Talapia at 41 separate river farms in Vietnam in December, and 100-tons of sardines and small catfish dead in Brazil.
The "Aflockalypse," as it's been dubbed, also includes 5,000 birds falling from the sky in Beebe, Ark., on New Year’s Eve and 100,000 fish dying and washing up along an Arkansas river the next day. Then on Monday, another 500 birds were found dead near a highway just north of Baton Rouge.
It all has an end of the world feel to it, doesn’t it? But a fact check by the AP found that these kinds of mass wildlife deaths are common and usually unrelated. The AP says that “Federal records show they happen on average every other day somewhere in North America. Usually, we don't notice them and don't try to link them to each other. At times the sky and the streams just turn deadly. Sometimes it's disease, sometimes pollution. Other times it's just a mystery.”
We don’t yet know how all the animals died, but a large number apparently died from cold. The Arkansas birds died from short night flights into structures after being startled by fireworks. Anyway, Ben Radford, the “Bad Science” columnist over at Livescience.com shows that mass wildlife deaths or the sky raining critters are nothing new.
People have always been eager to believe there is a greater or more sinister reason for a strange event than a natural and mundane explanation. It's human nature. And some in the media should be spanked for the unscrupulous presentation of strange events without context or out of context as a chance to goose falling viewership.
But is this generation even more willing than pervious ones to believe that life will somehow follow the plot of a Hollywood disaster epic or a conspiracy theory? There's a lot of evidence that it is. Could it be that this generation is desperate to add meaning to lives that have been rendered meaningless by hedonism, consumerism, "practical" atheism and media clutter?
Or maybe it is that we're in control of so much of our personal environment that we can't fathom that we will never control THE environment, and it bothers us.