image: Mass Animal Deaths - Google Map
You'd have to have been sequestered in a cave for the past ten days or so to not have noticed all the coverage of mass bird deaths and fish kills going on right now. And you've perhaps already come across the Deadbirdpocalypse map (to steal a phrase from BoingBoing) already--it certainly presents what looks like a pretty dire picture, with at the time of this writing 30 separate incidents involving hundreds of thousands if not millions of animals globally. But is it really that bad? Surely there's a common theme here, even if these sorts of events do occur more frequently than we recognize?I have to admit ever since this started I've been skeptical of both the "it's just a coincidence" and "the end times are nigh/HAARP killed them all" explanations. While no doubt some measure of people paying more attention to these deaths because of their new-found publicity is at work here, the timing of them all is dramatic.
So I decided to go through all the events listed on the map and check it out.
Here's what I discovered:
- Of the 30 events listed here--I don't know if this is comprehensive, it should be stated--20 are for water animals (mostly fish, but one incident of manatees), 9 are incidents of mass bird kills, and 1 is for bats.
- Of those: 5 incidents were the result of point-source pollution or suspected to be so; 2 incidents involved death because of disease or suspected disease; 2 were due to conditions associated with industrial food production (aquaculture and large-scale commercial fishing); 1 of the bird death incidents was the result of mutilation or some sort of direct slashing violence, and 1 was the result of motor vehicle strike at a location known for this occurring frequently, albeit on a smaller scale.
- 4 of the bird deaths (and these were the ones that really seemed to get some people on the end times are nigh or it's some military experiment gone awry angle) are suspected of occurring because of fireworks scaring and disorienting them, lighting strike or other storm activity, or something along those lines. Frankly, these are the only ones with mysterious or semi-mysterious causes.
- That leaves the remainder due to one cause: Extreme or unseasonable weather.
The one incident of bat deaths can be ascribed to unseasonable warm weather in southern Arizona. One incident of bird death in New Zealand can be attributed to abnormal La Niña conditions. Two incidents of fish deaths in Australia are directly the result of extreme flooding there. The remaining eleven mass fish kills resulted from abnormally cold conditions, in the UK, Canada, and in waters along Florida up through South Carolina.
In short, the end times are not nigh.
Though for half of the recent mass animal death events listed on the map weird weather is to blame, even if different specific weather events: Bucking the global trend of continued are marked warming, the UK just had the coldest December in a century; Australia experienced severe flooding after experiencing recent severe drought and heat; parts of North America have also had the usual weather patterns disrupted.
In this sense these events are not in fact mere random coincidence.
Oh, and in case you were wondering about specific numbers: Kitty kills about one billion birds annually, with over a billion more killed colliding with buildings and communication towers; the flockpocalypse has killed a small fraction of that.
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More on Mass Animal Deaths:
Massive Fish Kill in Mississippi River Not Due To BP Spill, State Biologists Say
Massive Cold-Weather Fish Kills Seen Across Florida
Mass Animal Deaths Around the World: Dead Birds Fall From Sky, Millions of Fish & Crabs Wash Ashore