Editorial: We don’t think enough about our impacts on the world

Editorial: We don’t think enough about our impacts on the world

Six eagles were killed, and six others were sickened after being poisoned.

There was a tragedy in the Cowichan Valley last week.

Six eagles were killed, and six others were sickened after being poisoned. All indications are that these magnificent birds weren’t killed deliberately, but that doesn’t lessen the severity of the outcome. The apparent negligence that led to the mass of deaths is still something that is serious food for thought.

It’s also a reminder of how we as humans, and everything around us, are connected. Actions taken or not taken have sometimes far-reaching and unintended effects. It is the proverbial stone dropping into the pond, creating ripples that travel outward, far beyond where the stone first touched the water’s surface.

In this case, it is thought someone likely euthanized a farm animal. The eagles fed off that animal’s body. While we know about the distressed and dead eagles, it seems likely there were also other victims that came to clean up, as nature does.

The north island has also seen a spate eagles in trouble. In those cases they’ve been hit by cars, poisoned by lead from eating birds that have been shot with lead ammunition, and there’s also the problem of starvation, as the eagles’ traditional salmon diet dwindles.

It’s a micro example of the kinds of impacts human beings are increasingly having on our finite planet. Our actions are polluting and killing faster than nature can keep up and heal. Often we do not mean to have the negative impacts we do, but our thoughtlessness and inability to see the consequences of our actions on the complex web of life around us that we inadequately understand has led to both runaway climate change and an accelerating extinction of species (check out a special edition of the journal Nature from 2017 on the topic). Even more sadly, there are those who do not care about their impacts in their insatiable quest for more wealth.

We humans need to stop being such a destructive lot. While we see the consequences first in the other species around us, we are part of the world and will inevitably face our own reckoning.