A bit on invertebrates. Past. Present. Future.
Any animal form that’s not microbial and lacks a spine…from tiny worms up ta somethin’ as big as a giant octopus er squid, is an invertebrate. They’ve been around just a whole lot longer than us vertebrates…and most certainly will outlast us.
There simply is no way to quantify how much good they’ve done and are doin’ for us now. And how much we depend on them. So why are we allowing their numbers and numbers of species to crash? That is what’s going on here on planet earth right now, ya know. Daily, species of animal life are sliding into the extinction bin, many of them invertebrates.
Let me give you examples of their past generosities. Right here, close by, in Lee and Ogle County; where we’re still living off their largess, mining it: our once extremely rich and fertile prairie soils.
As native plants crept after receding glacial ice, they brought their invertebrate cohabitants with them. Of course they provided benefits like pollination, but through constant “invertebrate excrement rain,” a very nitrogen rich rain, they enriched the surface beneath them, creating more robust plant life, more invertebrates, more excrement rain and….
MUCH OF OUR INHERITANCE ALREADY SQUANDERED!
Well, if the process is allowed to continue for ten er 12 thousand years, dead plant material digested by other invertebrates and then microbes, all of them excreting’ constantly, all the time…. As you’re most likely aware these nutrient rich accumulations stacked up in places quite deep, sometimes in excess of six feet…much of which we’ve already squandered.
Right “now” what are they doing for us? They pollinate many of our essential crops, they makes us sweets and produce fine silk, and we eat them directly, oysters, scallops, squid…they also provide us with the lovely music of the night if you’re lucky enough at hang out in places where one can hear it, and don’t forget they’re in the food chain.
There is no way I can innumerate all things they do for us, because I don’t know all that much. But I know that we can’t make it here on this planet without them. And that makes me wonder why we’re workin’ so fast and furiously in our collective effort in killin’ ‘em off?
Spraying broad spectrum and deadly chemicals by air sure as hell is one effective method towards stampin’ ‘em out, I sure as hell know that.
I often am able to stand out in a mature prairie field in the evening, just before dark. Damn. The cacophony of invertebrate sound is so vibrant that it seems ta come up the bottoms of my feet.
Now go out and stand in the middle of a corn field. One would think it almost a dead zone by comparison.
In the future…they won’t do anything for us, ‘cause we won’t be here. With us gone the numbers will come roaring back, and through evolution so will many new species. And the planet will be restored to health again…just without us there ta see it. The miracle of geologic time. Don’t worry folks. The mess we leave behind will be cleaned up.
But let’s pay attention to want’s goin’ on around us, right here and now, to what’s still left of the environment.
After receiving these two flat-out refusals to talk, what was I ta do? I decided to bring it up for discussion at the next gathering of the COTEFers, which came off as sorta loosely planned 'round camp fire out here in these spooky woods.
Just since our last get-together, our numbers swelled by half. Still plenty a room fer others, though. You bet.
REBIRTH OF MANURE MAN
Ruby May was sorta actin' as hostess. Refreshments, etc. Right Reverend Marques set there tunin' up his banjo. And now there's this second musician, too. Kendra. Except fer her liking ta do things with dead animals, she seems ta me ta be...well, not normal, but nice. And crazy. She plays and sings with the Reverend a lot. Then there's this old curmudgeon, a retread who's come to us as if outta the past: the former Manure Man of DeKalb Co. Vigilante fame. He's much older, but he's still got that wildly insane look in his eyes.
The next logical step. That was the question?
“I think a law suit against Woodly Aviation is a must,” that was Ruby May Glamper's suggestion.
“Not a bad idea, seein' as Stan was found conclusively guilty fer killin' of my fish bait. But this has ta be an issue much bigger than just these right-here local crawdads.”
Reverend Marques pointed to the obvious fact that there were a lot more people harmed by that week-long chemical blitz besides me, even though most of ‘em didn't know they'd been harmed; harmed by a reduced and degraded environment, none the less. The agreement there around warm fire with Kendra gently strummin' the beginnings of her burstin' into a tune, was unanimous. Kendra and Marques. They're writin' a song about the Great Grove Creek Crayfish Massacre. They're pretty good.
WHAT ABOUT LEGAL ACTION?
“So if we did decide ta initiate legal action, it should be in the form of like a class-action suit. Maybe takin' in everyone along the course Kite Creek drainage? Is that sort of what yer thinkin', Rev?”
“Yeah, sorta. Let me do some more thinkin' on this.”
“Take yer time.”
“The next logical step,” chimes in Dina, “Is to find out how these chemicals got approved for aerial spraying? dudes.”
“That should be easy,” chimes in Kendra. “The EPA has to approve all these chemicals. Through the Freedom of Information, we should be able to access all of that.”
“Are you willing to do that?” The crowd wants to know.
“Yeah,” Kendra comes back. “I'm pretty sure I can handle it.”
The Manure Man pipes up that he's sufferin' some confusion with this gathering, what’s our stated goal, what er who's our target. And he wants ta know why those settin' around there ain’t addressin' me as “Vig.”
“I'll do the “Vig” part first, M &M. I'm not the Vig. The Vig is retired. The EcoVig is a movement. Much grander than me. Stick around, you'll see.”
“So what are we supposta, how are we supposta address ya then?”
“How about just Brother David, co-founder of the Grove Creek Chapter of Church of the Earth First. Ya, Brother David. That'll do, M&M.”
THE BANNING OF THESE LETHAL CHEMICALS
“As for stated goals, high on our agenda is eliminating deadly chemicals like the ones that got sprayed all over Lee and Ogle counties. The ones that killed all the crayfish and other invertebrates in Grove Creek, and other streams that were affected as well....especially their use as aerial sprays. I think makin' this a ballot box issue by the mid-term elections, here in Lee and Ogle counties....I think that’s a realistic possibility.”
“Yer gonna have to educate John Q. Public then, who ain't too bright, Brother David.”
“It’s not that John Q's not bright enough for this M&M, it’s just like back when we did that Vigilante thing way back...phew, more than 30 years ago. Once ya get John Q's attention you'll find plenty of smarts there.”
“Grabbin' the public's attention, Vig....eh. Excuse me, brother David, you know that’s my specialty. You know what Id’a done and right from the beginning. Do you mind if I just call you Broth?”
“No. That’s fine. I'll answer ta Broth.”
“Yes. M&M. I've a good idea how you'd maneuver. But this time around I don't think we'll have ta stoop to yer odoriferous tactics.
MANURE MIGHT NOT BE CALLED FOR
“First, M&M, there already exists a great deal of concern with respect to these deadly chemicals. In fact, I'm amazed at all the like-minded people I've run inta since this crayfish kill thing got started. Now it’s just sorta a matter of pullin' these like-minded folks together. This is a serious game in which numbers count.”
“You know, Broth, lots of people are gonna think we're crazy fer goin' up against the chemical- agro-industry. They're awfully big, awfully powerful.”
“Sure. I'm aware of all of that. But I'm also aware that right, truth, has a chance ta tip the scale in our direction. I'm bettin' that should we be able to inform enough people, we can master the fulcrum point.”
Music and frivolity up-staged anything even close ta serious conversation then. The moon came up through the naked trees. Coyotes howled and great horned owls
screamed and hooted as the fire turned ta coals.
We said we'd soon meet again.