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In Memoriam: A Planet of Missing Beauties

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/03/24/memoriam-planet-missing-beauties


Thank you for recognizing and “celebrating” the vanishing LIFE around us., Mr. Tom!
The definition of “life” is not reserved for humans…
unforunately, all humans, including me., are part of what is destroying it
on this dying planet.
Yes, indeed beauty and innocent wonder at the beauty of life
is vanishing fast
and whoever is left with have only emptiness and lonliness in its stead…
and it seems a good portion of humans could care less.
it is madness


Me too. Everything Tom wrote goes for me as well. This is our dystopia. A world becoming devoid of animals. Even of insects! We become madmen simply by doing things like we’ve always done them.

I also stay in self isolation due to poor health and age. There is a bizarre calm that occurs when you consider that you won’t see the world as it will be thirty years from now. I seriously doubt that I will see ten much less thirty years on. My grandchildren will see what when they reach my age? A newborn will have at least 70 years facing forward. What world will that be I wonder?

Lions, tigers and bears? Oh my!
Oops, no room left for them, no more.
Mice, rats and pigeons? Oh my!
A future missing wildlife… and of us? Always more.
Oh my.


Although I am relatively young, 59, I have accepted that I probably won’t live much longer, due to assorted progressive chronic conditions. It does give a different perspective and calmness about this pandemic.


At close to the same age as Tom, my own experience was and remains similar. I’m a birder. Have been since my earliest years, when I had a feeder attached to my bedroom window. And it is the male Cardinal that will always be associated with those first sightings.

Unfortunately, living on the West coast now, we have no Cardinals. But my feeders see daily visits by a pair of Northern Flickers, Hairy and Downy woodpeckers, along with a mix of song birds, such as House Finches, Oregon Juncos, a lone Red-winged Blackbird, and several Mourning Doves pecking at the scraps dropped from the others.

It makes my backyard an oasis for me, as I, like Tom, more or less self-isolate at home.

I had hoped to attach photos of the birds I’ve mentioned, but it doesn’t seem to be possible here. So, I suggest if you’re not familiar with them, look them up . . . and enjoy the beauty, while we still have it.


When I was around five years old, I was sitting in the screened-in porch at my grandparents’ home in Louisville, spellbound. Outside, a multitude of cardinals pecked at bugs on the grass, swooped and rose and landed again, as if my grandmother’s red roses had transformed into airborne musical blooms. I moved back to my native Kentucky in 2003, and as nearly 17 years have passed, I, too, have sadly seen the number of birds, of all kinds at my feeders, diminish.
Our “future FDR,” by the way, is not the Democratic establishment’s anointed one, but rather, the outcast outlier. Bernie Sanders, who is still very much in the running, and who, in his online talks and fundraising for organizations helping those most adversely affected by the Coronavirus shutdowns, is being far more worthy of the presidency than anyone the Duopoly can provide.


Thanks Tom for bringing us back to a simpler time and reveling in its beauty.

As my wife and I sit and look out on the world through our three 7ft. by 9ft. windows on the back of our house, we marvel at the birds that visit our feeder we just hung a few weeks ago.

Beauty and tranquility like your “flaming red Cardinal.”

Then, when each days light is gone and the darkness fills the outside, the remembrance returns of the “Flaming A$$hole” whose ineptitude and ignorance has threatened not only human life, but also that of our Mother Earth.

Can’t wait till the hummingbirds return in about a month.


I’ve noticed less birds here around my yard in suburban Rhode Island too. Also fewer fireflies, butterflies that used to be pleasurable to watch. But the Trump regime and its supporters would contemptuously laugh at this concern, what good are birds to boost stock prices?


Felicitations, Tom!
We’re about the same age and I grew up in the Big Apple. In 1972, I was a science teacher. Hoping to instill a love of wildlife into my city students, I scheduled a field trip to the Ramble, in Central Park. To prepare them, I showed slides of the birds we might encounter. This was met with incredulous smirks (especially the cardinal). Apparently, none of my students had ever bothered to look up (and this was before cellphones). When we proceeded to spot almost all the species we’d seen on the slides, I had a class of bird lovers! Can they still watch?
I’m just about to install a new feeder outside my newly remodeled study, and the Monarchs are partying there, as well. Of course, this is Maui.


Thank you for this poetic, depressing truth.
What I’ve seen from a very young age is my species raping Mother Earth, killing everything, stealing away the beauty, peace and quiet, open spaces, bird songs, clean air and water, sacred natural places, and the wonders of evolution.
Human population is way too high, and is driving a mass extinction event that’s out of control and will come to a terrible conclusion by the end of this century if not sooner.
Along with the pandemic, Fuhrer Trump and all the other outrages, the murder of our mother the Earth is the worst crime of all.


I agree that the destruction of Earth and its inhabitants (human, plant, and non-human animal) is the greatest evil of all. And all for the almighty dollar.


Thank you, Tom, for a very profound article. I am 61, and I have definitely noticed a drop in the number of birds and insects, as well as a much warmer climate than in my youth. Spring is earlier, and winter is much less severe. Decisive action is imperative.

Not to be obnoxious, though, but seeing as the star of the article is a cardinal, why is the accompanying picture a robin? They are lovely as well, but there is nothing like a cardinal, as you know. They’ve been my favorites since childhood.

Another factor in conjunction with climate change accounting for decreased numbers of birds is an ongoing insect apocalypse where today there are about only one third the number insects than there were in 1970. Birds who eat insects are thereby understandably not around.

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I saw my first Baltimore Oriole while camping on Long Island, circa 1959. I remember it well and the older scout who pointed it out to me (in what has long since been a McMansion community). 2B humans on Earth when I was born in 1959, ~8B now, along with insect apocalypse that most folks seem to be oblivious to, or the consequences thereof. If you want a happy flashback and stay-at-home diversion, you my want to read the feedback on my novel, “A Summer with Freeman,” that I’ve priced as low as I can on Kindle. Toss in my last name if searching for it. A slice of that time and place, as close to a latter-day Huck Finn as I could make it. Sorry to sound like self promotion, I wrote it for catharsis and hopefully to bring smiles and memories to others. Peace.

I think it is because we no longer have to ‘plan ahead’ like we did back when we were young. If we were both in our twenties (I vaguely remember my twenties! Lol), we’d have little choice but to worry and be angry at what will be the state of our poor beleaguered planet! I can’t imagine being young with infants and not paying attention to things like climate change.

But at my age and health (I’ll spare you my ‘list’!), I know that I won’t be around to see it when it finally gets really bad. I am basically the dutiful parent telling the kids to bring a sweater ‘just in case’ but I won’t be going out like they are. We try to warn and teach the young so as to prepare them better for what will come but we ourselves know that we won’t be there.

We can’t pretend to be scared like some young couple with a newborn should be. I’d be if I were them. We can only give them the benefit of knowledge and experience but they listen to us in the same exact way that we didn’t listen to our elders.

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