Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bouncing Back


I've been sick with some brain-numbing, happiness-sucking, chest-congested cold.

I've been feeling very grim, and while I do know that this is the illness speaking, I somehow managed to muster the energy to treat Robb to a full-on rant about how I fear that our country has gotten into the habit of thinking very selfishly. It seems to me, in my unhealthy state of mind, that we've lost our capacity for compassion, for imagining ourselves in another person's circumstances. Instead, it seems, we've taught ourselves to say, "What's in this for me? If I don't benefit, then screw the other guy."

Does anyone but me know about the banning of the insecticide DDT? DDT was a synthetic insecticide that was hugely popular in the middle of the 20th Century, and which was shown to travel up the food chain, and destroy the eggs of larger birds. It was banned in 1972, at the birth of the environmental movement.

I was wondering aloud to Robb whether in today's America, anyone would give a shit about a bunch of stupid useless birds, or if we would just keep dumping this highly effective pesticide on the crops, because it was cheap and easy. I really had my doubts.

And then, today, I read that the Brown Pelican made such a successful recovery, that it was going to be removed from the Federal Endangered Species List.

These magnificent pterodactyl-like birds had almost been destroyed by humans who filled their diets with egg-ruining poisons, who hunted them for their feathers, and who changed the shorelines so drastically that there was nowhere for pelicans to breed.

Over the past thirty-some years, thanks to the work of some humans, these birds have bounced back.

There's hope, after all.


martha said...

A good environmental story is always nice to hear when it seems as though you get crushed under the weight of the bad news.

I think the problem with DDT was that it made the egg shells too soft. So when the birds sat on the eggs to incubate them, they were crushed.

DDT is alive and well in many places such as India and parts of Africa. The World Health Organization is waging a huge campaign to use DDT to fight malaria. You can see an article at this link:

Mel said...

*hugs* I'm sorry you're having such a crap time healthwise, Lisa. :( But - here's my tiny little one person list of a few good things I can think of, at least in my little bubble of a world. We have our Roots garden ( The school does a 'Holiday Project' where we provide food & gifts for a few hundred families in need in Baltimore. Our elementary kids have 'sandwich making' days in the dining hall and deliver them to a local shelter. We have a partnership with a McDonogh elementary school in New Orleans and have funded their library with over a thousand books after Katrina, and some of our students go down over spring break to work w/ Habitat for Humanity. I volunteer w/ Karma Dogs with my dog Danny, helping inspire kids to read and be kind to animals ( That's just my tiny list of the first things that come to mind about people being kind, and I'm sure that most of your readers can come up with some lists, too. And, you & Robb & the bikes & the giving are fantastic & inspiring! Hang in there! *hugs*

Anonymous said...

Hey there- glad to see you have a new blog entry-

First- You guys have a house of your own to be ill in, which is more than a lot of people can say today. So be somewhat happy as you are sick.

Second- DDT is banned in the USA, which is good, so be happy. I remember my Dad using it to get rid of the potato bugs on our plants every year- sheesh! No wonder it was toxic to those bugs- it was toxic to the entire world!

Third- Robb may not be too pleased to see your lovely face contorted in anger, so go easy on him. But it's nice to not be worried about him all the time, now, eh? If you rant about things, I guess he can take it. I see you are worried about things other than him now, which I guess is an improvement.

Fourth- I myself had a horrible sort of creeping, mucus cold, so I went to bed and slept for 14 hours straight, and woke up to being a human being again. Sleep is good.

Fifth- When your sick in bed, it's a good time to plan your garden for next year. Plan on a nice herb garden, so when you guys do get sick again, it's possible to make a nice soup from your own herbs to help you through the healing. This works. I guarantee it. Completely.

Sixth- Gary and I should invest in the spray foam called Great Stuff, since we have been spraying it like Mo-Fo's all throughout the house. Basement? Check! Attic? Check! The new hole on the outside of the house facing the road which is full of nesting birds in the spring? It's an area right at the upper corner of the house where we discovered a hole INSIDE the house, beyond the heavily carved wood bits that decorate the roof line (cant remember what thats called but it starts with a p). Our local fix it guy is going drive over here and fix it with his new cherry picker truck (as soon as the ground freezes hard here) and spray that hole full of great stuff foam and patch it up. I guess those birds are just going to have to migrate over to your place next!

Ps- The local corn harvest is mostly done here, so the fields are full of Canadian geese, birds, deer, drunken idiot hunters and other things. My next door neighbor saw a fox chasing my cats across the back field last week. The cats got away but I wonder how much longer they can manage it. I can see that we have a real need to put up new "No trespassing" signs on our place, as hunters have been known to shoot INTO residential when they get "buck fever" around here. Sometimes I hate people.


Sue KuKu said...

I remember DDT being banned. In 1972, I was 11-12 years old.

I also remember drinking cyclamates!

"Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT now.
Give me spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees, please!"

~~~Big Yellow Taxi

Anonymous said...

One name: Rachel Carson

One brilliant, quietly stubborn woman led a revolution.


ellen said...

I think in Southwest Florida people appreciate and value the brown pelican. I visit there nearly every year and love those birds. So much fun to watch, and so beautiful in an odd sort of way. I always try to take a good picture of them and so far have not succeeded. No matter. My favorite thing about them is the way they cruise over me, so quiet that I can hear the wind hissing through their wings.


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