“Canaries in Coal Mines” Dying Fast: Evacuation Recommended

Warning: The conditions that killed this (parrot) canary are detrimental to your health, too. (Photo by Secret Tenerife/Flickr)

Warning: The conditions that killed this (parrot) canary are detrimental to your health, too. (Photo by Secret Tenerife/Flickr)

In case you missed the memo: when you are mining coal, and the canary in the cage you brought with you to the work face indicates the presence of deadly methane gas by dying, you are directed to get the hell out of the mine. The canary’s death gives you time to save yourself. Ignoring the canary’s death would be really stupid. Now, consider the number and variety of “canaries” that have been dying in such droves, in the past few weeks, as to command headline treatment here and there:

  • A dense bloom of toxic algae, called a Red Tide (although it’s not a tide and often is not red), has killed 181 manatees off the west coast of Florida so far. It’s an all-time record, set with months to go in the season. Although the lamestream press such as this report from Reuters refers to “naturally occurring” red tides and identifies the “problem” as an unusually warm winter, people who cling to their cult-like belief in “science” insist that the red tides are proliferating along all our coasts because of the massive nutrient doses being provided by untreated sewage and agricultural runoff.
  • Sick and malnourished sea lion pups are stranding themselves on Southern California beaches in some of the largest numbers ever seen. The last time anything like this happened, in 1998, researchers at length concluded that warming coastal waters caused fish to move offshore, requiring the land based sea lions to swim farther and farther out to feed. They are not yet willing to say if the same thing is happening now. (Alert reader clue: warmer than normal winter in Florida, warmer coastal water off California — what if this is global?)
  • Chinese officials have pulled the rotting carcases of nearly 7,000 pigs from the river that provides drinking water to Shanghai. It’s a pig-raising region (almost all regions of China are, with a swine population of half a billion) and pigs are always dying for one reason or another. But the numbers of the dead are so large this year that the pits provided for their disposal are full, and hog farmers have been dumping the bodies in the river. Why so many this year? According to Bloomberg News, quoting the Chinese news agency Xinhua, “extreme weather” was a factor.
  • The number of Monarch butterflies making it to their winter refuge in Mexico dropped 59 percent this year, falling to the lowest level ever recorded, one-fifteenth of the number observed in 1997. The usual suspects for the ominous decline — agricultural practices (the widespread use of pesticides have wiped out the milkweed that is the butterflies’ chief food source) and (alert reader alert) extreme weather events.
  • Other, similar “canary” deaths did not make big news recently, because they simply continued: bats are now dying off from the mysterious “white nose” fungus in 21 states and five Canadian provinces, with no “cause” (we continue to expect — nay, demand — the identification of a single “cause” for extremely complex events) or remedy yet identified. And bees, which are needed to pollinate a large chunk of our food supply, continue to vanish to “colony collapse disorder,” a thing that has a name but no identified “cause” or remedy.

So here we are at the work face, surrounded by cage after cage of dead canaries, with no one making a move to begin what is obviously now required: the evacuation of the planet.




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