Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Things I Did Not Know

You can learn a lot from reading Martin Fackler.

Like about the fierce Aves vs. Sapiens competition in the real estate market:

Blackouts are just one of the problems caused by an explosion in Japan's population of crows, which have so grown numerous they seem to compete with humans for space in this densely crowded nation.
About the frailty of the Japanese homeless:

Communities are scrambling to find ways to relocate or reduce their crow populations, as ever larger flocks of loud, ominous birds have taken over parks and nature reserves, frightening away human residents.

Or about the official and scholarly consensus on the Western origins of garbage:

Behind the rise, say experts and officials, has been the growing abundance of garbage, a product of Japan's embrace of more wasteful Western lifestyles. This has created an orgy of eating for crows, which are scavengers.
Or about the Japanese embrace of satyagraha and knee-jerk environmentalism:

The crow explosion has created a moral dilemma for Japan, a nation that prides itself on nonviolence and harmony with nature, because culling programs are the only truly effective method of population control.
Or about the truism that when a government official tells you an absurd story of how the past was a golden age, the job of the journalist is to reproduce the quote without examination:

"In the old days, crows and humans could live together peacefully, but now the species are clashing," said Naoki Satou, the head of planning in Tokyo's environmental department, which conducts crow countermeasures. "All we really want to do is go back to that golden age of coexistence."
Or about the miraculous wonder of the the land of the Rising Sun that if someone somewhere says something, it is important--whether or not the person is making sense or not.

While the city said it only killed 200 crows last year, the use of traps has stirred opposition. A local ornithologist, Michiyo Goto of Yamagata University, called for nonviolent alternatives, such as relocating the crows outside the city by building an appealing habitat for nesting, which she said was a brightly lighted area with no underbrush to hide predators.

"Once you start killing them, there's no end," Goto said. "You can't stop the damage unless you exterminate every last crow."
You, in the back, you have a question?

"Yes. If the crows are moved out of the city, what do they eat? Won't they just find new garbage dumps or worse yet raid the fields of farmers? And if they reproduce successfully, what prevents their offspring from returning to the city? And doesn't the ornithologist admit in the end that if the goal is to eliminate all damage you have to kill all the crows? But if that is not the assumption... "

Silence Unbeliever! Read your full Fackler and feel a faith in the editorial board of The New York Times coursing through your veins!


Jan Moren said...

"golden age of coexistence". I'm speechless (no, really; I started on the next sentence a dozen times, different each time, before erasing my attempt). Has the guy ever read or seen _anything_ about ecology, biology or agriculture other than some cute picture book with antropomorhpic animals as a preschooler? I thought the Japanese bureaucracy recruited only educated people?

By the same token I suggest we stop pollution by tying big pink balloons on all the ugly factory chimneys and let the balloons float away once they've filled with all the pollution - and in but moments will the rainbows and the small winged horses riding them be back, while all the bunny rabbits, bears and lions dance together and blow bubbles in the meadows below.

It must be true; I have it on exactly the same authority as the guy above.

Anonymous said...

Slow News Day at NYT obviously, since the oil companies don't want them to report on the oil crisis, and the food industry doesn't want them to report on BSE or GMOs or whatever it is that ordinary Americans care about, and don't get me started on the nuclear power industry, or the US military industry...

Crows bother no advertisers.

I'd love to read your take on Onishi's recent masterpiece about fugu, also in NYT, also with a nice little slant.

Anonymous said...

Well, we can all laugh and giggle, but this is a serious problem when people living in nature reserves are being forced out by animals.

Anonymous said...

Mr Fackler's saccharine views on Japan's professed harmony with all that is natural would carry a little more weight had the government had not just sanctioned the slaughter of four and a half thousand Asiatic black bear last year. The cull has wiped out at one go 30-70% (who knows? who cares!) of the bear population, and pushed it to the brink of extinction on Honshu.

Admittedly it would be harder for him to cover the moral hand-wringing, public debate and media outrage surrounding the bear cull because... there was none.

Jon Allen said...

But the crows are fighting back :
"The birds have begun building dummy nests as decoys to draw patrol members away from their real nests."

You've got to admit: the crows ain't stupid.