|Stormy Sea, by Eduard Hildebrandt (Metropolitan Museum of Art)|
The common murre is a big seabird, a type of auk found, among other places, on an island in the Baltic Sea, off the coast of Sweden. The New York Times science section ran an article about those murres on Tuesday and I read it, even though I have no particular interest in seabirds, the Baltic Sea, or Sweden. It was lunchtime and the Science Times was right there.
I’m glad I did. The article explains how biologists are eagerly exploiting the pandemic shutdown of global travel to see what effect the departure of humans has on ecosystems such as the murre colony at the Stora Karlsö nature preserve. The general perception when it comes to the natural world is humans = bad. But here “the sudden absence of tourists at Stora Karlsö during the pandemic set off a surprising chain reaction that wreaked havoc on the island’s colony of common murres, diminishing its population of newborn birds.”
Oh no! What happened?
The murres aren’t the only birds in the area. There are also white-tailed eagles. Researchers discovered that the eagles don’t like people — and who can blame them?— so they stay away when tourists tramp about. But with people gone, the eagles are emboldened, and their presence, swooping around, throws the ungainly seabirds off their egg rearing.
I love that. Because it supports my belief that the world is complicated, interconnected and counterintuitive. Though if scientists found the opposite — with people gone, the murres are having a jubilee — I’d accept that, too. Because I’m an adjust-my-outlook-to-the-facts kind of guy.
The world doesn’t always tickle your biases. That seems, to me, a given. Not everyone got the memo, though. Many swap this enormous, beautiful clockwork of endless complexity for a little ball and cup contrivance of their own dry imagining. Because its plop-plop makes them feel better about themselves.
On Wednesday, a video surfaced of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-QAnon) harassing Parkland massacre survivor David Hogg.
“Why do you use kids?” she yells. “Why kids?”
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