Monday, June 14, 2010

Farting butterflies and eco-disaster!

It's probable that we're nearing the point where almost everything that needs to be said about the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been said. And by more informed folks than myself.

But last night I saw the first story that told me I wasn't the only one looking further down this road than the immediate terrible situation. Yes, it's beyond words...especially to those impacted financially; those whose livelihood and tradition depend on the sea. Unspeakably horrible and my heart goes out to them.

The two features which caught my attention concerned other areas of the country and not, at first, the Gulf. Being a New Englander, I found myself listening to the wonderful Yankee accent of a Gloucester fisherman. He was talking about the joy and the passion of his life - sailing out to fish for Atlantic bluefin tuna, the massive creature so valued by sushi lovers everywhere. Well, guess what? This critter spawns in the warm waters of the Gulf. When? NOW!!!!

Tests are underway to determine if the ongoing spill will contaminate, or worse, kill the tiny hatchlings. If it does...then you can see the ripple effect. Bluefin tuna will be reduced in numbers and another offshoot of this disaster will hit another group of fishermen hard.

The other story was from scientists who are worried about the birds. The ones that migrate south each fall. My hubby, who was listening to this, rolled his eyes and pointed out that people's very lives were affected. Surely birds came lower on the list of things to worry about right now.

Then, as we discussed it, we realized this entire event could well be the first domino to fall in a global crash of unimaginable proportions. The birds, who fly south for the winter and depend on the creatures living in the Gulf marshes for sustenance, die out. Or at least have their numbers seriously diminished. So next spring, less white-breasted twitterers. (Or whatever they are. You get my point here.) Those little fellas love nothing more than to snack on...let's say...mosquitoes. But now, there's not so many hungry whitebreasts, hence there's a buttload more bugs. Same for caterpillars, moths, tree-munching whatevers...and so on.

Going back to mosquitos, we're faced with miserable picnics, and worse. Various diseases are too easily spread. Suppose the tick population expands due to lack of hungry birds. Lyme disease anyone? See where I'm going here?

No matter how we bemoan the current state of the Gulf and this god-awful spill, it could - and possibly will - get a bazillion times worse as we move through this year, next year and into the foreseeable future. Nothing like this happens in a vacuum. Its effects will be long-lasting and far-reaching, make no mistake.

Yes, it's the "farting butterfly" theory. And I'm very very afraid it won't be theory for much longer.