Sunday, March 13, 2016

What if Hitchcock got it all backwards in 'The Birds?' | Mickey Z.

"The Birds" trailer screenshot. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons."The Birds" trailer screenshot. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Mickey Z. -- World News Trust

March 13, 2016

I recently revisited a 2011 study involving crows that proved -- yet again -- how humans are the only species supercilious enough to be astonished when another species performs "advanced cognitive tasks." (Humans, for that matter, are also the only ones arrogant enough to believe "advanced cognitive tasks" could and should remain constant from species to species.)

The study "found" (among other things) that crows "remember the faces of threatening humans and often react by scolding and bringing in others to mob the perceived miscreant."
Perceived? Only a human would insert that qualifier when myriad aspects of modern miscreant, I mean, human behavior -- e.g. habitat fragmentation and environmental toxins -- present a clear and present threat to global bird populations. Here are a few examples:

Windows: In the United States, between 365 million and 988 million birds are killed each year by collisions with plate glass windows in tall buildings.

Automobile Culture: Some 60 million to 80 million birds are killed each year by motor vehicles (and it’s likely impossible to calculate how many are lost during the endless construction of carchitecture. 

Domestic Cats: Feline companions allowed to roam free may kill as many as 4 billion birds per year in the continental U.S. alone.  

Factory Farming: Worldwide, more than 50 billion chickens are raised and slaughtered annually. Every day, 23 million chickens are killed in the United States for food. That's 269 dead chickens per second.

Communication Towers: Whether they are radio-transmission or cell phone towers, the annual avian death rate is roughly 7 million. However, high tension line collisions are believed to be far more common, with perhaps 174 million fatalities annually.  

Pesticides: Estimates are as high as 72 million deaths per year. 
For those of you scoring at home, that's billions and billions of birds killed annually by humans and human-related behavior while time and money is funneled into specious, phallocentric experiments to discover what should already be apparent to all. 

This astounding disconnect is the root of so many current problems. The natural world, seen as inferior, goes conveniently misunderstood as humanity's necrophilic "progress" cuts a broad swath through our shared eco-systems. In such a scenario, denial and justification become crucial. 
Breaking this pattern of denial and justification sure sounds like an "advanced cognitive task” to me. Any bets on whether a certain miscreant species is up to handling it?

Mickey Z. is the author of 13 books, most recently Occupy these Photos: NYC Activism Through a Radical Lens. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, you can “like” his Facebook page here and follow his blog here.

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