Ecology and Social Issues05 Jun 2010 04:56 pm

Probably the most prolific predator in the history of our planet is also the most ignored. This predator is even more amazing in the diversity of what it kills than in its quantity of kill.

This predator kills insects, birds, and many varieties of animal. The list of its prey is almost endless. It kills both crawling and flying insects including worms, caterpillars, crickets, mosquitoes, butterflies, lightning bugs and beetles. Its diet includes snakes, frogs, turtles and lizards. Songbirds and crows can be counted amongst its prey. Rabbits, possum, raccoons, squirrel and even cats and dogs are common. Not to mention fox, deer, moose, groundhogs and even bear which are part of their quarry.

Even other major predators become prey for this able killing machine. Bobcat, cougar, panthers and wolves are not uncommon victims. In the US an astounding 40,000 humans a year are killed by this great predator. The list of victims to this predator could fill volumes.

I guess by now many of you have guessed this incredibly gifted predator, yes it is the motorized vehicle best represented in the car, van and truck. Each day thousands of animals and untold numbers of insects and birds are felled by its endless murderous excursions.

What is most deplorable of this predator is that it doesn’t even eat its prey. While sometimes it kills in order to help its occupants go to work to survive, it often kills in totally unnecessary journeys in its territory or to foreign parts. Many of these excursions are just joy rides, or a desire just to get out and about. The majority of these kills are executed without the slightest bit of remorse by the drivers, or at least little effort is made to reduce the number and distance of these murderous journeys.

Ironically many of the drivers of these vicious vehicles are horrified when they find out that some their friends hunt or fish. Many are incensed when they see someone wearing a fur coat or snake skin boots. Somehow they either totally ignore the majority of the murders they execute while behind the wheel, or they view all there motorized excursions as being necessary.

The destruction to wildlife caused by cars isn’t restricted to its actual time on the roads, but the disturbance caused by preparing roads to be paved is extremely invasive and destructive. The pavement itself alters the ecosystem causing permanent dislocation and death to numerous insects and earth worms. The non-porous pavement causes suffocation and drowning to various life ill-adapted to a concrete covered terrain. The toxic properties of asphalt present their own death warrants for plant and animal life.

Though this predator has only been on the scene for a century its numbers are now in the hundreds of millions if not billions. It is amazing the number of environments and ecosystems that have adapted to the motorized vehicle. The number of natural predators has decreased as the the populace of their prey has been decimated and managed by the burgeoning car population.

At this point in time the total removal of cars and trucks from the globe would have potentially dire consequences. The uncountable number of animals, insects, reptiles and birds spared their execution by a lack of cars would create an unstable environment. The number of remaining natural predators would be insufficient to meet the proliferation of prey. This could result in disease, pestilence, plague etc. as the predator population takes time to raise its numbers sufficient enough to control the population of a number of species throughout the animal kingdom.

So, though it would be nice for us to curtail our murderous ways by reducing our dependency on the automobile, we should do so in a thoughtful manner.

Yet, in the meantime I think it is terribly misguided to view ourselves and our role on the planet as being moral or humane. There is no way to avoid the obvious fact that we are the most reckless and selfish murderers on the planet. The only way to salvage our dignity and humanity is to admit our savageness and quickly find and implement ways for us to be more respectful of life. Hiding behind the “fight for survival” is a callous joke, we neither need to point fingers at nature nor make excuses for our heinous ways.

The choice isn’t between reality and utopia, the reality is we have many options and choices to live life in a more humane and respectful manner.

Jim Guido

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