I found out the other day that there is a movie coming out in 2014 called Mr. Peabody & Sherman. This is a 3-D update on the characters that many of us were introduced to on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show so many years ago or more recently through re-runs.
“Experts who have studied the Northwestern moose — Alces alces andersoni — believe they are witnessing one of the most precipitous nonhunting declines of a major species in the modern era, yet few outside Minnesota fully appreciate the loss.” In Scientific American
In that weird world of cranial synapses, the link to Bullwinkle made me think about the current plight of wild moose in North America as reported in the New York Times and elsewhere. It seems that researchers looking at the precipitous decline in these largest members of the deer family in the lower 48 states and southern Canada are linking that decline to increased parasites made more possible by climate change. More specifically, they are linking the disappearance of the killing cold spells that used to limit the populations of parasitic worms, ticks and other deleterious organisms.
“Sometimes, Rines says, anemic, infested animals are transformed into "ghost moose."
That happens when the moose "have scratched all winter long trying to get the ticks off, and they break their hair all off, and because the hair follicle is broken you see the white inner portion," she says. "And they literally look like ghosts." NPR piece on moose in New Hampshire
Of course there are those who question or deny that climate change is at play or that it even exists. These are also the folks who might quickly look to blame this decline on wolves, but the fly-in-the-ointment here is that a good portion of these declines are taking place in the absence of wolves. Oops.
Coming back to Mr. Peabody and our entry point above, we start to think about Peabody Energy and more specifically coal (cue John Prine). Because when we think about the causes of our current climate crisis and the threats of continued atmospheric loading of greenhouse gases, few companies compare to Peabody in terms of their profiting from coal and externalizing the full costs of their operations on their fellow citizens, our oceans and the wildlife—like moose—that we all feel are precious.
Critics of full-scale and cumulative Environmental Impact Studies for potential coal export terminals in Cascadia like the proposals in Longview, Washington and for Cherry Point near Bellingham, WA, squawk about the depth of the requested analyses. My sense is that their brains—unlike mine—would not immediately jump to the conclusion that we need to include the impacts on moose and other wildlife of shipping this coal in a generally Boris and Natasha direction. But then they might not have had their thought processes forever altered and enhanced by Rocky, Bullwinkle, and the whole crew. Perhaps when you once visited a world where flounders can send fan mail and squirrels fly though the air like rockets, your ability to see and make complex and important connections improves.