Saturday, January 22, 2011

The ominous (?!) rise of amateur ornithology

3,000 dead black birds and the ominous rise of amateur ornithology. - By Nathan Heller - Slate Magazine:


In fact, the re-emergence of bird-watching in the culture's limelight is an ominous thing—though not because of anything the birder does. The hobby rose to popularity in the unrest of the nuclear era, and it points toward a looming fear of ecological apocalypse. This makes sense. For bird-watchers, who are trying to keep track of the natural world without leaving a trace—to conquer nature without smothering it—the struggle not to uncoil one's strength destructively is constant. Birding is a steam valve for anxiety about nuclear-age strength and habits. Its prominence today can be seen as a measure of quiet alarm.
 I should ask FriendFeed's John (a.k.a. dendroica) if he's feeling anxious.

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