© Othmar Vohringer
How many of you can remember the time during the 1960’s when news from around the world of eagles and other birds of prey falling dead from the sky terrified us? After much research it was found that the then commonly used insecticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was the culprit. The highly toxic insecticide was not only deadly to the insects but every other animal that ate insects, such as frogs, songbirds, fish and others. The birds of prey in turn ate the songbirds, frogs and fish. It was a deadly chain reaction all the way up the food chain. DDT also made its way into our food and scientists quickly found that DDT caused birth defects and cancer among other illnesses.
The outcome of the DDT aftermath research and how it affected nature, wildlife and humans caused an international outcry and started the “global environmental movement”. Eventually, after much political wrangling, DDT was internationally outlawed as an insecticide. Public opinion put a stop to the global poisoning, at least that is what we all thought.
Jumping forward from the 1960’s to 2013 and we are in a new crisis. Again we hear news from around the globe of fast declining honeybee populations and more recently of songbirds, frogs, salamanders and other small critters which at one time were plentiful but are now vanishing fast. Again the liberal use of pesticide is blamed for the decline of these animal populations. But what about larger animals such as our moose and mule deer populations right here in British Columbia? Are they affected too by the use of pesticides and other chemicals in the agriculture industry? Or are these animals the victim of the much hyped “global warming” effects? Not so if we are to go by what scientists say. We had global warming and global cooling before with little effect on wildlife. Animals, like humans, are very adaptable to climatic changes. What wildlife cannot adapt to is the poisoning of the food sources and the rapid loss of habitat. Both of these are plaguing our wildlife populations. DDT is outlawed but there are still tonnes of other equally deadly chemicals and poisons sprayed every day of the year all across the world, not to mention the genetically manipulated crop seeds killing every other plant growing nearby and insects eating from the plant.
Habitat loss occurs at a staggering pace. No matter how much we insist that we are environmentally conscious and how many laws and taxes we create in the name of “environmental consciousness”, when push comes to shove, we humans are not willing to forsake a new highway, shopping mall, golf course, housing projects and the extraction of renewable resources in the name of progress, prosperity and economic success. For as long as humans strive to make life easier with more gadgets and gizmos, bigger houses, easier access to shopping, more transportation networks and more use of renewable resources, wildlife always will be drawing the shorter straw. When wildlife and nature lose then so do humans and no matter how much we might believe ourselves to be above it all, we are an intricate part of nature and without it we’re as doomed as the honeybee. To think otherwise is simply foolish.