The New York Times

The Meaning of a Whole Ecosystem

This well-written and devastating feature in The New York Times Magazine, “The Insect Apocalypse is Here,” is worth reading. You might cry, though.

In conversation, sometimes, a student will wish mosquitoes away. I tell them that mosquitoes are an important part of the food chain for a number of species, and that while I, too, would like to be mosquito-free, we must understand that we are one small part of a whole. We may soon manage to become the whole, though, through chipping and choking everything else out. This article is about the decline of all insects and the overall functional extinction of many species - and our often unnoticed acclimation to it all.

A Selection of Readings

Trump-Era Environmental Damage

In case you haven't been following along (I do understand the appeal of attempting to ignore that Trump is in charge of the USA), here's a list put together by The New York Times compiling twenty-three environmental laws, regulations, and policies that Trump has overturned in the first hundred days of his presidency.  At least Elon Musk is trying his best to get humanity to Mars, since it seems like it'd be best if we just left Earth to the rest of the species that inhabit it and move to a lifeless planet that won't suffer as much from our short-sighted and morally questionable leadership.

Deleting a Climate Change Webpage Doesn't Actually Stop Global Warming

Right after Trump assumed the presidency, the White House's webpage on climate change was deleted.  

Meanwhile, Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016, which beat the previous record that happened in 2015, which beat the previous record which took place during 2014.  We've had three years in a row of highest temperatures on record for our planet.

Bison Are the First National Mammal!

How cool is this - President Obama has signed the National Bison Legacy Act making bison the first national mammal (though bald eagles are still secure in their national animal status).

To celebrate, here's a gallery of all of my bison paintings completed thus far!

Animal Autonomy Is Becoming More Academically Accepted

I feel like there's a new groundswell of acknowledgement regarding animal sentience and intelligence happening lately in the academic arena, and I'm digging it.  Here's Dr. Frans B.M. de Waal discussing his perspective in "What I Learned From Tickling Apes," published in The New York Times.

Mimosa Pudica Remembers You

Here's a neat article from The New York Times on one of the plants I work with in my interactive installations, the Mimosa pudica or "sensitive plant."  I do have to qualify their results, however, because none of the plants I've grown has ever stopped recoiling from human touch/interaction.  I wonder just how repeated their "repeated exposure" was.

Yellowstone Bison Culling

A great op-ed, "The Bison Roundup the Government Wants to Hide," was just published in The New York Times about the politically motivated annual bison cull that takes place in Yellowstone National Park at the taxpayer's expense.  I'm all for the suggestions of the author, Christopher Ketcham, with the clarification that I'd like any seasonal hunting to be restricted to that which encourages an ecological balance as opposed to one based on farm/ranch priorities, fear, or the desire for trophies.

Parrot Intelligence

I'm now more than halfway through Carl Safina's Beyond Words (I discussed my interest in the book previously in this post) and the experiences and information he relates are very powerful messages about animal intelligence.  A much shorter but no less potent read is one of this week's The New York Times Magazine articles entitled "What Does a Parrot Know About PTSD?"

I've long believed that many people, either consciously or subconsciously, choose to deny the breadth and depth of animal intelligence out of guilt about their own practices and values.  Eating meat, supporting factory farming, purchasing leather/ivory/horn/bone products, damaging the environment, keeping pets in traumatic conditions as per the article (and judging animals solely as property in the eyes of the law) - these types of decisions are easier to explain away when the victims aren't sentient.