Wednesday, May 03, 2006

skittish squirrels

Wind turbines send wildlife diving for cover
NOISY wind farms in California are making squirrels edgy and prone to scurrying for cover. This change in behaviour could have knock-on effects on animals that depend upon the squirrel, such as the golden eagle, which feeds on the rodent, and the red-legged frog and California tiger salamander, which live in its burrows.
The biologists played recordings of alarm calls to each group of squirrels. Those living near the wind turbines were more likely to dash back to their burrow when they heard an alarm call, and spent more time looking around for predators. Team member Donald Owings says that the noise of the turbines seems to make the squirrels more alert, perhaps because they need to compensate for their reduced ability to communicate through sound.

This is a fine little study. Marvelous. It needs a little perspective, however. If we are going to fuss about the "siting" of wind turbines to save the frayed nerves of the wee critters of nature, there are a few animals who might be further up in the queue of concern.

Like the participants of a formerly functioning ecosystem in the Appalachian mountains. Lately being bulldozed into a desolate wasteland to extract reams of sweet coal. There were squirrels in those parts - - once. Now, there is nothing to study. Problem solved! Maybe more care should have been taken, and the destruction should have been "sited" somewhere else, like Hell.

Don't forget the delicate froggies and beeses. They are growing breasts and dropping dead left and right. (Not from the breasts - - rather, the petrochemical waste being smeared around our habitat for humanity, Planet Earth.) Remember the Prophet's final message before he floated up to heaven: "You are all frogs...(the transcript trails off here)"

Wind isn't perfect, but it might help slow down "Peak Species".

New Red List paints bleak picture of extinction
Two out of every five species on the planet that have been assessed by scientists face extinction, according to the latest World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
Overall, 16,119 animal and plant species are in danger of extinction, including 1 in 8 birds, 1 in 4 mammals and 1 in 3 amphibian species. Since records began, 784 species have been declared extinct. From the poles to the deserts, “biodiversity loss is increasing, not slowing down,” says IUCN director-general Achim Steiner.

Yes, it is a race. Can we chew through half of the animal kingdom remaining on Earth, before we hit Peak Oil? Michael Lynch might agree! Then, the rest can easily be wiped out on the downslope of our energy boon, and our evolution will be complete.

We'll live "in the future" and eat algae by the bucketful. I'm am sure the culture will be smashing.


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