Op-Ed Draft–drpaleontology

What We Can Do to Bring them Back

A warm summer night fades into the early dawn, and the orange beams of the sun are slowly peeking out from behind tree branches and bushes. Bugs are heard in the distance making all sorts of calls, and squirrels can be heard rustling in the leaves, but something is missing. The sound so soothing to millions of Americans’ ears is left empty filled in by the irritable screeching of machinery. What you may be asking to yourself is what is actually missing from this image in your mind. The light chirps and naturally orchestrated hymns of the songbirds is becoming quieter and quieter as time moves on, and it is our duty as a species that we get these early risers singing again.

In a recent report, it was estimated that nearly a third of all species of birds in North America have vanished since 1970. Some may just brush this off as just another loss on the planet and we are doing all that we can, but this is a very dire situation. Birds are what is known as an indicator species. They, as a whole, are much more environmentally sensitive to change than most other species. Air and water qualities are huge factors in this issue, and the main contributors to this issue is human behaviors. What can be interpreted from this information is that due to the severe loss of birds, it is a sign that North American ecosystems are on the verge of collapse.

Birds are a very important species to have on this planet. They help in a vast multitude of ways including pollination, pest control, disbursement of seeds, and even as food for higher trophic level organisms. Endangered species of course are always a concern, but what worries scientists, and what we should worry about is that the birds being affected are not endangered. They are just our normal every day birds. According to a recent study done by a group of North American ornithologists, since 1970, Blue Jays have lost about one fourth of their total population.

Other indicator species are being analyzes all over the world and similar results are showing huge losses in population. For example, at this very moment about forty percent of all amphibians are facing extinction. Another species with such sensitivity are flying insects. Just over Germany alone, about 82 percent of biomass in the air is gone. Scientists are currently in a debate right now due to the fact humans impact so much of the environment. They are considering this age of history to be named a new era, the Anthropocene. These deaths are not to be ignored and these millions of species will not go without a fight. It is our job as a species to right the wrongs that were done to Mother Earth.

Governments are stepping up to face the problems at hand, but there is much more work ahead of us. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is one such way the United States is attempting to hold back these extinction level events. This act is meant to restore natural habitat to thousands of species of birds as well as thousands of other animals on this continent. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed in 1918 with the goals of restoring the population of birds such as geese and ducks. The impacts of this act are clearly successful in which the population of Canadian Geese grew from about 0.2 million in 1970 to almost 2 million in 2012. If acts like these were passed on conservation of our everyday birds, populations may finally start to rise again.

Governments are the strongest way to help these animals, but communities as well as individuals can help too. A large amount of bird deaths come from collisions with windows. Decals and window covering can be applied to windows to help prevent these such issues. Another helpful tool is to leave some light source by a window at night so that they can see that the window is in fact a window rather than a passageway through your house. Bird baths and placing bird food are other great tips at attracting birds to your community. Being aware of your pet’s activities may also be a large factor. For those of us with cats, being more wary about them going outside. Millions of deaths come from cats each year. Providing habitat opportunities can also present them with more reasons to repopulate. Bird houses can be placed in hidden nooks and crannies all around your yard and can provide shelter for a large number of birds. Pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides are large contributors to death as well. All three chemicals are of no help to any animal really. As bugs eat plants and die from the toxicity contained, birds may eat the dead bugs and the bioaccumulation of the toxins will lead to other animals that eat the birds to get sick as well.

Supporting wildlife and bird conservation can be a great way to get involved on a small scale. Every cent helps towards the main cause of stopping extinction. This may be a costly act to save them, but the benefits strongly outweigh the financial cost. A healthy environment means a healthy human population. We take for granted the walks that we can go on in nature and hear the birds chirp and the bees buzz. If no action is taken the pleasant strolls that we know and love could be surrounded by nothing more than just the harsh clang of machinery. We need to act soon. These signals of ecological disaster are looming closer than we should have ever let them get. We are the reason that around 3 billion are gone, and we are the only ones who can help bring them back.

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6 Responses to Op-Ed Draft–drpaleontology

  1. davidbdale says:

    It’s a little weird to cite a 1918 law in the present tense. “Governments are stepping up” with actions like the 1918 Migratory Wildlife Act, which raised 1970 levels significantly? Huh?

    Governments are not A WAY to do anything. They may be agents of action. Legislation or regulation may be GOOD WAYS to get things done.

    Your helpful tips paragraph sounds like a list converted to sentences. Resist the temptation to convert every item into a sentence of its own.

    Bird baths ARE NOT a tip.
    “may also be a large factor” is another clue that you’re stretching.
    Try to leave YOU meaning ME out of your advice.

    Bird baths, houses, and feeders attract birds and shelter them, while keeping cats indoors and pesticides safely stowed protects them from dangers.


    The WE approach, which you eventually adopt, is very effective for building a rhetorical community of shared values. WE take nature walks for granted until the bird chirps and bee buzzings give way to highway noise and “development” crowds out everything natural. Like that.

    You go WE the rest of the way, which works nicely.

    Helpful? I’d love to hear back.


  2. davidbdale says:

    Your Biomass paragraph is a very strong piece of evidence that the bird loss is “an indicator” of other massive species loss globally.

    Flying insects are not a “species.” Find the biological name for that: phylum? family?

    Don’t suggest that “scientists are in a debate” about anything you want to assert, Doc. Surely they don’t debate the loss of species. There must be near unanimity also about the blame humans share in the loss.

    You haven’t made good use of the beautiful term Anthropocene. For the Pleistocene, Cenozoic, etc., eras and epochs have been named for the most important geological factors. Naming an era after a species, man, means we’re more important (I don’t think it’s an honor, more likely we’re more catastrophic) than any other global phenomenon.

    Fix the rhetoric of your final sentences. Species won’t go without a fight gives them the responsibility to defend themselves. I think you mean WE CAN’T LET THEM GO without a fight in which WE DEFEND THEM or risk our own peril. Right?


  3. davidbdale says:

    You beautifully anticipate a counterargument in P3, Doc. “What’s the big deal? We don’t eat blue jays!” “What’s so important about songbirds?” Etc. But you confuse your reader about endangerment. First you told us 1/3 of all birds have disappeared. Then you tell us they’re “not endangered.” So, which is it? Clearly you mean they’re not “on an official endangered species list” or something similar. On the other hand, in your intro, you claim NOT that 1/3 of birds have disappeared, BUT THAT 1/3 of bird SPECIES have disappeared from North America. They may not be GLOBALLY EXTINCT, but they’re extinct from North America. Whatever turns out to be the case, you may be able to score some rhetorical points by pointing out that they may not be quote “endangered,” but they are certainly in danger.


  4. davidbdale says:

    One more bit of specific advice, if you please, about word choices and brevity. I’m going to CAPITALIZE some problem phrases that are sapping the energy of your writing.

    IN a recent report, IT WAS estimated that nearly a third of all species of birds in North America have vanished since 1970. Some may just brush THIS off as just another loss on the planet and we are doing all that we can, but THIS IS A very dire SITUATION. Birds are WHAT IS KNOWN AS an indicator species. They, AS A WHOLE, are much more environmentally sensitive to change than most other species. Air and water qualities are HUGE FACTORS IN THIS ISSUE, and the main contributors TO THIS ISSUE is human behaviors. WHAT CAN BE INTERPRETED FROM THIS INFORMATION IS THAT DUE TO the severe loss of birds, IT is a sign that North American ecosystems are on the verge of collapse.

    Don’t fall in love with this paragraph too early. It may need revision for argument, but for style, compare this please:

    A recent report estimated that nearly a third of all species of birds in North America have vanished since 1970. Some may just brush this off as just another depletion of the planet, but SPECIES LOSS is dire. As indicator species, birds are much more environmentally sensitive to DETERIORATION in air and water quality, the main CAUSE OF WHICH is human behavior. APPARENTLY, the severe loss of birds is a sign that North American ecosystems are on the verge of collapse.



  5. davidbdale says:

    I will gladly respond to your specific request for general, structural advice, but first, I am too distracted by the discordant notes in your lovely introduction, so I have to strike the machinery noise that is never identified and prevent you from asking me to visualize the sound of birds in that IMAGE in my mind. Maybe:

    A warm summer night fades into the early dawn, as orange sunbeams peek out from behind tree branches and bushes. Bugs make all sorts of calls in the distance, and squirrels can be heard rustling in the leaves, but another soothing sound is missing: the light chirps and orchestrated hymns of songbirds have faded to near silence, and it is our duty as a species to get these early risers singing again.


  6. When reviewing my essay, I would appreciate if you could give me some tips on structure of the paragraphs and if more evidence is needed to prove my point. I would like to work from a general fix to a more specific one. If you see anything blatantly obvious that needs fixing I would appreciate if it was pointed out, but for now the tiny minute details can be left out and can be worked on at a later date. Thanks.


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