Many years ago, in pre-9/11 U.S.A., I was a junior high school science teacher. I remember once how we made a test tube of hydrogen gas, put a lighted splint to it and heard it go “POP!” My boy students, especially the brightest of them all, said with enthusiasm, “Let’s make a whole bunch of hydrogen and blow it all up at once!”
After carefully planned and (I thought) taught classes where these boys couldn’t wait for the bell to ring announcing their freedom from science class, I was delighted to see eagerness and enthusiasm. We planned some controlled projects that we could watch “blow up” such as rocketry and other chemical reactions where we emphasized safety and care. These boys were all there in creative, intense and eager learning mode — not even hearing when the bell rang — whenever there was the anticipation of “blowing it all up.”
I can hardly believe that in our post-9/11 U.S.A. we see such normal boy behavior and creative curiosity as “terroristic threatening.” What has happened to us? Our 9/11 fear, institutionalized now, has overwhelmed our common sense as well as our love of freedom and justice. I am worried for us for I fear that our greatest enemy is irrational fear within us. If we cannot change our over-response to irrational fear, we are heading for trouble.
Egrets and owls
Cattle egrets and barn owls are beautiful birds, but in Hawaii’s fragile ecosystem, they’re bulls in a china shop.
The draft environmental assessment (DEA) regarding control of the birds states, “Both cattle egrets and barn owls have been documented to prey upon native species, including waterbird and seabird species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and to compete with native species for food resources. … Attempts have been made to control cattle egrets and barn owls through site-specific permits, but these … have proven to have limited success. … Removal … is necessary for recovery of threatened and endangered Hawaiian waterbirds and seabirds.”
The DEA finds that “No measurable decline in rodent or horn fly populations [pests that owls and egrets were brought in to control] has been associated with cattle egret or barn owl populations.”
The DEA adds, “Several near collisions and aborted landings have occurred at General Lyman Field (GLF) in Hilo as a result of cattle egrets…Threats to aviation have also occurred at the Honolulu (Oahu), Kahului (Maui) and Lihue (Kauai) airports.”
The DEA also finds that “… global populations of both cattle egrets and barn owls are stable or increasing, and removal of the introduced populations in Hawaii, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the unincorporated territory of Midway Atoll will not have significant population level impacts on either species.”