Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Frogs Die in Earnest

I’m sure you’re all familiar with this phrase, which has been attributed to a number of sources: “Though boys throw stones at frogs in jest, the frogs do not die in jest, but in earnest.”

It’s a phrase worth remembering. Because even when we don’t do damaging things precisely “in jest”—even when, for example, we just screw up so cosmically due to negligence that people die and oil spews into the Gulf for months—even then, we seem to think that it’s just as easy for the rest of nature to forgive and forget as it is for us.

But unlike our concern about the Deepwater explosion, which dissipated quickly, the oil isn’t going away. It’s going into the bodies of animals up and down the food chain, building up in higher and higher concentrations as their bodies sequester it or as they eat other contaminated prey. It’s covering seabirds, destroying the waterproofing and insulation of their feathers, coating their throats as they try to preen themselves clean. It’s going into the mouths and noses of sea turtles breaking the surface for air.

During March, I visited Cocoa Beach and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge with my parents. We saw any number of amazing and beautiful birds, and one of the most enchanting sightings for me was also one of the most common—the brown pelicans that flew above and swaggered along the beaches.

They were amazing birds, handsome and comical at once, entirely charismatic, and, as my parents can attest, I spent most of our beach-time taking endless photographs of them.

Now that means that it’s easier for me to envision what these charming, self-assured birds look like bedraggled and coated in oil, unable to understand why their usual plunge for fish has covered them in this noxious substance that fouls their mouths and hardens as it dries, not knowing how to remove it or why it affects their movement and flight.

I’m not writing this to craft a horror story, although it continues to be one for countless species, and will continue to be for generations to come. I’m telling you because this is the last week to contact your Senators and insist that, during the lame-duck session, they pass an oil-spill bill that will hold BP responsible for long-term cleanup in the Gulf. Here’s an easy, pre-made letter to send your senators from Audubon:

And here is a spill-bill “fact sheet” with more information to use in contacting senators, writing letters to the editor, or getting information out to your friends and colleagues:

Spill bill fact sheet:

Please get involved in this. Remember that I, living in DC, don’t even have any representatives I can contact, so I need to be assured that other people, hopefully many of them, are doing something to help.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures unless otherwise specified. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}

1 comment:

Anca said...

Your post today made me weep. And, of course, I've written, many times, at the Audubon site, National Wildlife Federation, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and so on. Please heed Olivia's words and write, all of you who think life on this planet is worth saving.

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