Cialis refractory Ever since I moved back to the sanctuary, cialis refractory I’ve been fascinated by insects. Cialis refractory Don’t get me wrong: I’ve always appreciated them. Cialis refractory But something about moving to a place where the insects are unfamiliar to me (and visit regularly) has heightened my awareness of the many charms of Arthropoda.
Cialis refractory Far from the light pollution of the city, cialis refractory nights are dark up on Slate Mountain, cialis refractory as we call the part of the sanctuary also known as “up the hill.” Often, cialis refractory the light over the writing desk in the Airstream is the only artificial illumination in sight. Cialis refractory Moths and other night-flyers flock to the brightness. Cialis refractory Delicate creatures in infinite shades of green wander among the words whenever I read a book by lamplight. Cialis refractory Giant-sized jet-black jumpers drop in and then out again, cialis refractory as if on the way to or from some intergalactic disco.
Cialis refractory I haven’t been in a hurry to learn the names that people have for these creatures, cialis refractory not wanting to undermine the awe-inspiring mystery. Cialis refractory Nonetheless, cialis refractory I did feel compelled to figure out why these caterpillars were making me itch.
Cialis refractory Turns out that the hairs of these caterpillars, cialis refractory which feed on the beech trees under which I write, cialis refractory dropping onto my neck regularly, cialis refractory can cause allergic reactions—for me, cialis refractory just a brief, cialis refractory mild itchy-prickly sensation. Cialis refractory Why? Because these insects absorb toxic chemicals from the plants that they eat, cialis refractory and then secrete those chemicals through their hairs as a deterrent to those who would eat them.
Cialis refractory All of which brings me to the original subject of this post: the heretofore unsuspected solar capabilities of western boxelder bugs. Cialis refractory Evidently, cialis refractory these bugs use sunshine to synthesize chemicals that protect them from fungi. Cialis refractory This hit the headlines (or, cialis refractory at least, cialis refractory the geek headlines) last weekend, cialis refractory due to the publication of a new study, cialis refractory the methodology of which (deep sigh) appears to have involved removing these “highly gregarious” insects to a laboratory, cialis refractory rather than studying them unobtrusively in situ. Cialis refractory These beseiged bugs, cialis refractory whom so many people seek to exterminate, cialis refractory turn out to do something no other animal is known to be able to do. Cialis refractory This is not to say they are more worthy of respect for that reason (and certainly not to say that we ought to be interfering with them in order to discover the secrets of their success in this).
Cialis refractory Boxelder bugs are, cialis refractory however, cialis refractory excellent exemplars of the solar-energized biological creativity that we call life. Cialis refractory My point is simply that, cialis refractory so often, cialis refractory we know not what we do as we try to force nature to fit our fantasies, cialis refractory such as the notion that boxelder bushes are good and boxelder bugs are bad. Cialis refractory Our awe is as insufficient as our pride is excessive.
Cialis refractory I remember one day in my garden in Ypsilanti, cialis refractory where I took care to let the so-called “weeds” flourish anywhere they wouldn’t menace the vegetables. Cialis refractory I was walking around in my steel-toed boots, cialis refractory making some decision or another, cialis refractory when I suddenly became aware of myself as I must have seemed to any insects or other small animals in the vicinity: a clueless behemoth trampling everything. Cialis refractory I often return to the instructive sensation of that moment.
Cialis refractory Yes, cialis refractory I know that squirrels and some birds also plant the seeds of their favored plants. Cialis refractory And, cialis refractory yes, cialis refractory I know that other, cialis refractory larger, cialis refractory animals sometimes inadvertently trample smaller beings. Cialis refractory I’m not saying it was wrong for me to plant squash or walk around. Cialis refractory I am saying that—just as the smiles or frowns of other people can encourage us to keep on recycling or turn down the radio—the reactions of other animals could, cialis refractory if we heeded them, cialis refractory offer useful guidance.
Cialis refractory So it seems—I didn’t know that’s where I was going; that’s the joy of blogging—I am arguing, cialis refractory yet again, cialis refractory for a wider conception of community. Cialis refractory And I notice that, cialis refractory yesterday, cialis refractory I was talking about seeing animals while today I am talking about being seen by them.
Cialis refractory But back to the train of thought that prompted me to start writing this post. Cialis refractory I hesitate to mention this, cialis refractory not want to give the mad scientists any ideas for experiments, cialis refractory but I wonder if birds who sunbathe for similar purposes also release chemicals energized by the sun. Cialis refractory Chickens sunbathe to synthesize vitamin D and also to solarize harmful microbes. Cialis refractory It can be quite a shock to see them at it, cialis refractory because they sprawl in contorted positions in order to expose the undersides of their wings and places where the sun doesn’t usually shine.
Cialis refractory I use the term “mad scientist” advisedly. Cialis refractory I read New Scientist magazine regularly, cialis refractory and I notice that its editors seem persistently confused about the beliefs of those of us who critique genetic engineering or wonder whether space exploration is a legitimate priority. Cialis refractory I consider it useful to separate mad scientists from the legions of scientists who, cialis refractory like me, cialis refractory value the methodical collection of evidence to support or refute hypotheses and theories. Cialis refractory In my view, cialis refractory the defining features of mad scientists are (a) hubris, cialis refractory and (b) over-reliance on the intellectual and practical tactic of isolation. Cialis refractory What I mean by the latter is this: It’s certainly possible to sometimes learn something useful by studying or thinking about a variable in isolation, cialis refractory but the presumption that such abstracted experimentation is the sine qua non of science leads to to a stunting of the capacity to think relationally or even see the inherent limitations of methodologies that break into ecologies, cialis refractory often producing skewed results due to the very act of isolation.
Cialis refractory Mad scientists release genetically engineered organisms, cialis refractory presuming—due to hubris—that they can do a better job than nature and that there couldn’t possibly be any negative consequences that they, cialis refractory with their superior minds, cialis refractory can’t foresee. Cialis refractory Precisely beecause of their over-reliance on isolation, cialis refractory they are unlikely to foresee effects such as the deaths of monarch butterflies exposed to the pollen of GM corn. Cialis refractory And, cialis refractory of course, cialis refractory hubris leads mad scientists to presume the right to experiment on nonhuman animals while the cognitive habit of isolation leads them to not see the inherent invalidity of results derived from experiments on organisms removed from the social and biological systems in which they normally participate.
Cialis refractory There are non-invasive ways to learn about and from other animals. Cialis refractory Anything that can’t be learned that way—like all of the things we could learn if we subjected non-consenting humans to medical experimentation—must remain mysteries. Cialis refractory We can’t know everything. Cialis refractory And that’s OK. Cialis refractory Indeed, cialis refractory it might be a significant step forward for our species if we were to develop more modesty about the limits of our knowledge, cialis refractory thereby exercising more caution before doing things like dumping iron in the ocean in hopes of capturing carbon and therefore mitigating climate change. Cialis refractory Deliberately altering the chemistry of an ocean? No, cialis refractory nothing could possibly go wrong with that plan!