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Animals Are Dying in Droves. What Are They Telling Us? “Feels Biblical”

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Die-offs like these jolt us even as tens of thousands of species steadily twinkle off into extinction in the Anthropocene. “They really feel biblical in their proportions,” Sam Fey, an associate professor of biology at Reed College, told me. Their scale—that of carnage—seems to speak to our modern ecological anxiety, rage, and grief; mass mortality events are material evidence of anthropogenic apocalypse, an unignorable and immediate tally of the ravages we’ve sown. And they will likely become more common as heat waves, droughts, disease outbreaks, storms, fires, and other environmental disturbances grow more frequent and deadlier. News coverage of die-offs, however, fails to acknowledge all we don’t understand about mass death. In reality, we’re nowhere close to grasping the repercussions these cascades of death have on ecosystems. “We’re still a far way away from having a firm view,” Fey said. “As a field we know very little about these events.” Each year, millions of… (READ MORE)

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