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Meteorology, Ecology, and the Future of Our World

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Meteorology, Ecology, and the Future of Our World

Contagion is universal, from infection by those at the top of the food chain, germs and insects, to linguistics, where one sound will assimilate to another because it is located next to it. ("illiterate" was once *"inliterate," for instance, in Latin, for example--"in" an old prefix meaning "not").

Viruses invade us, insects bite us, our infections jump from one of us to another.

In the case of the Tucson tragedy, people were killed or injured because of mental illness that caused the murderer to spread his disease around in other forms. For him, now, that contagion may be as lethal as it was hideously destructive to so many others--ultimately, all of us.

At the end of last year and the beginning of this one, in the case of animals dropping from the sky or floating on water surfaces or washing ashore dead, different causes are assigned, from La Niña to starvation because of freezing weather to polluted waters. The press is alive with one report after the next.

Last year also, an inordinate number of humans were slain by acts of God: earthquakes, mudslides, floods, tornadoes, blizzards. Then there was the BP oil spill whose contagion I postulated up the Atlantic coast of the United States from Florida to Delaware--it seems too coincidental, as I wrote in my most recent blog, that the largest concentration of animal deaths has been in this region, where it was predicted to spread from New Orleans in a matter of months after the spill began last spring.

Birds and fish are the principal victims of this anomalous epidemic of death: creatures inhabiting air and water, more victimized than ground dwellers. And incidents are attributed to many causes--one flock of birds in Romania were drunk on grapes because the seeds they normally feed on were not there (because of extreme cold); and New Year's fireworks brought down other flocks, in Arkansas and Sweden. Here the explanation was that birds in flocks don't usually fly at night, further explaining the "die-out." Further, both birds and fish were killed by an air current, La Niña, which generated too-calm ocean waters, hence eliminating a crucial food source, small fish, which became so scarce that it could not feed all creatures used to targeting it, both birds and larger fish; too-cold water in Maryland and so many other afflicted places (super-cold winters generated by Arctic winds said to be deflected here because of global warming).

The large majority of victims were fish, from what I can tell, and the main reason for the massive deaths seems to be rapid temperature change from warm to cold, where the animals who usually migrate didn't go soon enough. Their instincts were off for many reasons--one opinion is that birds and other organisms rely on the North Pole, which gives off a magnetic signal that orients long-distance migrations or other navigation, and literally got lost, because this year the Pole shifted by 25 degrees.

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Especially afflicted among the avians were those that travel in flocks, for obvious reasons, and fish that travel in schools. Just as whole villages or towns or cities of people have been crippled by natural catastrophes.

The press seems unconcerned, though prolific on the subject. I read one column joking about the demise of two sets of birds, not considering any other incidents, or unaware of them. Another report began, "Something fishy is happening in Chicago."

Some people blame global warming for many of the natural disasters that occurred last year.

The experts as well as pundits aren't worried. "Die-outs" occur every other day in North America, and no one links the events, according to one, and 163 were reported for 2010. All those recently reported, from Vietnam to Texas, occurred around the New Year, give or take a week.

Another expert remarked that people are too anxious to read supernatural events or portents into die-outs (they should get a life), but more occur than are recorded and in our instance, frequent comments were that plenty of young were hatched, so that the only endangered species are those four-legged mammals and others listed by environmentalists.

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The reports continue. Why? Are we dupes of a media whim?

What about humans? Will we be next? I asked an expert. Will we start to drop dead in large groups? Enough of us died through natural catastrophes or epidemics or diseases, which brings us back to contagion.

Cold winter is contagious. It claims many victims. With all of the above explanations, why are all the locals so upset, then, and demanding answers? Why has death seemed inordinately contagious in the last few weeks?

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Marta Steele is an author/editor/blogger who has been writing for since 2006. She is also author of the 2012 book "Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols: The Election Integrity Movement's Nonstop Battle to Win Back the People's Vote, (more...)

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