Date: 10/5/19 6:02 am From: Frank Enders (via carolinabirds Mailing List) <carolinabirds...> Subject: Decline in birds and analysis of tenure track ecology jobs
Look up "Vulpes nocit multa" for a (Maine?) website. Part analyzes and discusses decline in bird populations; most/much of the change in birds was a decline in common species, House Sparrow, robin, grackle, etc. Part tells that there is an average of 300 applicants for each job opening. And this last issue started about 1970. The elephant in the room is: what happens and happened to all these surplus PhDs?
Consequent advice for young birders might be to rather go make money and use it to try to solve the obvious environmental problems, not waste time/energy on citizen science or advanced degrees which fail to give a positive return. If you have the resources to spare, then fritter away your lives as we older people have.
Another, related path to solutions instead of problems might be to lower the voting age, and install working democracy in public schools (more control formally given to students), including colleges. The last I heard, for example, NCSU did not have department chairmen but, rather, department heads appointed by administrative officials--top-down control, ultimately by political parties---is that any way to run an organization? by ownership rather than by competency? One of my favorite researchers studied high elevation forest dieoffs. He had a good career, and never fixed the problem he was studying. Was it his fault or the way we have (not) organized our government? The thought occurs. Literacy tests were used to control poor people and minorities. To prevent participation. But some sort of literacy test might be needed for participatory democracy to succeed, in the long run. [Due to my abhorrence of demonstrations and mass rallies as used by the Nazi Party, I have failed to organize to participate enough in groups. I did not speak out persistently as Greta Thunberg has. But, any and all of us can learn to organize and act, and starting to have much more and participatory democracy is key to fixing the longstanding (since at least 1890) environmental problem, including this listserv's favorite, birds. (I do wish all the schooling I went through had emphasized working in groups, and brought me out of the mindset which my family's forced emigration from Germany had produced. But, no, the focus of school always was how smart I was---the reward always was then more work to be done! In the Bible does it ask, what does it profit a man if he takes AP courses and loses his way? Nobody paraphrased for me the saying about losing your eternal soul!)]
Whenever there is a problem, such as war, at first the bureaucratic generals get to fail, and eventually we find generals who know how to win battles. As for the bird and climate problems, the general public seems to have gotten the message. So, I have hope that we will soon (2020--what a funny number! 20/20 or 2020?) get leaders who can get the problems "solved".
Bill Nye, the science guy, was on PBS "Firing Line" this morning. He pointed out how to fix our climate change catastrophe. Any number of people speaking out. Some of what Nye says can be criticized or improved upon. He points out that it is the way of the world, to solve a problem only when it has become a crisis.
60 years ago, I rode the subway almost three hours and walked an hour to see the first Mockingbird nesting in New York. The species now nests in Canada. My bird list is not the point. Nor is yours. Johnny Cash killed 147-153 California Condors and had to pay (80% of) an enormous fine. He said "I do not care about your yellow-headed buzzards." Nor, at some level do I. The canary in the coal mine is "just another brick in the wall". It is the laborers in the coalmine who are the issue. Almost everybody realizes we humans have a generalized problem, which is not just the destruction of the natural world or birds. Equity. For example,we have a problem that we pay productive people less than so-called leaders and supervisors. We do not know how to evaluate people's performances. So, we pay more to the greedy and less to those who do the scutwork. We could pay everybody equally,but that would be too simple.
National Audubon and Cornell are part of the problem and part of the solution. The institutions have their own motivations. They are not participatory democracy. They sell topdown "citizen science". Just as our federal government does not pay people whose woods are taken for Red-cockaded Woodpecker or whose deer populations (hunting) are affected by Red Wolf introduction, nonprofits pay their own "employee" salaries from contributions but do not pay the time and mileage of participating "citizens". And, did Audubon provide me with records from the Rocky Mount Xmas Bird Count when John Thompson ran it? Or, records to Brian Bockhahn from when I ran it? Did I stop because I found myself driving all around in the afternoons to pick up Horned Lark, etc? Did Harry Legrand not complain that he was giving up compiling because he had to pay a fee year after year for doing the work? Did Ken Bass not complain (and eventually stop banding) because he had to pay a fee each year to the state for banding Barn-owls? It seems National Audubon gave up on Breeding- and Winter-bird Censuses because there was more money and mailing lists to be obtains from the CBCs. Those censuses, however, given the covariate descriptions of changes in the study plot provide better data And, Breeding-bird Survey routes are along roads, which consistently suffer more environmental degradation (and declines in bird populations) due to development following roads. And, CBCs are usually centered on towns/cities,which expanded and developed and so lost birds in the 100 years.
When I hear from a climate-change-denying source that climatological stations have been encroached upon by urban development, and so the data are flawed, I have to agree. But, as with the data showing declines in bird populations, things are not simple and not perfect. Nevertheless, we have these problems which are obvious and we need to pay for the solution. The solutions need to be mandatory, governmental, not just voluntarism. And,equitable.
Frank Enders, Halifax, NC
I do not have time for e-mail. Nor, I think, do you. Try calling 252-308-3443---good luck with that.