Sunday, January 02, 2005

If we could talk to the animals

Perhaps you've noticed the preternatural stories about the animals all along the Indian Ocean who seemed to have a "sixth sense" that forewarned them about the tsunami which has tragically killed and injured so many people. Wildlife officials in the afflicted countries have been unable to find any dead animals among the vast destruction.

If animals have that kind of wisdom, perhaps we could benefit from what they are telling us about our environment. We learned last year that polar bears are showing up dangerously underweight because the hunting season (defined by the amount of ice) has shortened considerably due to global warming. Birds never seen before are showing up in Arctic villages. The dwindling fish populations have long been telling a tale of overfishing and pollution. Some fish are showing up with both sex organs, a phenomenon which has been traced to the hormone-mimicking powers of certain plastics and other artificial compounds. Even the cows are going "mad" with a disease that can only be traced to the way we feed them.

During the tsunami, the animals moved away from the shore quietly without "telling" anyone. But, when it comes to the environment, the animals are practically screaming at us. Are we willing to listen?

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