By: Javier David Mayorga-Kintanar

A thrush forages through the forest floor’s foliage in search of insects to feed on. Success! The thrush rips an earthworm out of the ground, almost like brandishing its fresh catch. At this instant, something ominous and unseen rushes quickly overhead, fearing the worst, the thrush drops everything and runs. The Great Kiskadee, having done next to nothing now has earned its reward: the forsaken earthworm.

A bird watcher sees the entire scene unfold before him. Many questions begin to form but before a full thought is completed, the Great Kiskadee flies away with its food.

Later on in the week, he finds himself serving food to hungry school children in the cafeteria. He quickly becomes distracted by the monotonous tone of students in uniform moving one by one past the line, as he absent-mindedly scoops food onto each tray presented before him. In a search for something interesting to become preoccupied with, his eyes meander slowly over the entire cafeteria before landing on a familiar scene. He observes one student intimidating and beginning to grab chocolate pudding cups from the other students at that same table. After the entire table’s dessert items had pooled together onto a single tray, the lunch period had ended.

At first these two sides of the bird watcher’s life seem to never be able to interact. And, indeed, there is next to nothing that can directly link the Great Kiskadee to the social interactions in a middle school cafeteria. However, just as is the case with the current climate change crisis, things must be looked at completely differently.

From a different lens, both the Great Kiskadee and humans are driven by the need for the same things. As animals, both require food, water, and shelter to survive. The birdwatcher observes a Great Kiskadee stealing an earthworm from a thrush, and observes a student taking chocolate pudding from his peers. In these scenes, both parties are focused solely on the acquisition of resources. The kleptoparasitic behavior exhibited by the Great Kiskadee is characteristic of bird species in environments with competition created by an insufficient amount of food and resources. This idea can be applied to a bigger scenario than just one table at a cafeteria. Worldwide, capitalism and competition have become an integral part of the modern human species. This has been spurred on by the limited amount of resources on earth as well as the desire for material wealth. Just as the Great Kiskadee steals from the thrush without giving it a second thought, humans harvest massive amounts of material from the earth without thinking about any harm the earth could be facing. In the kiskadee scenario, the thrush is forced to forage for more food, but it can still recover from having its prey stolen. In the human scenario, however, the earth is forced to deal with having its materials stolen, since it takes an extremely long cycle for it to replenish its resources. Human competition has led to the mismanagement of environments, leading to resource depletion and even destruction of entire ecosystems. One example of ecological destruction caused by harvesting resources from the earth is the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that occurred in The Gulf of Mexico. Driven by need, humans began offshore drilling for oil since oil reserves on land were beginning to run out. The pursuit of wealth blinded the employees to obvious safety concerns which later escalated into one of the largest ocean oil spills in history. In this example of oil, putting effort into harvesting, refining, distributing, and cleaning up spills, all emits excessive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which further deteriorate the condition of the earth as a whole by leading to even more climate change in the future.

chopped trunk of tree

As is commonly observed today, climate change and its detrimental effects are nowhere near a top priority for many organizations. Humanity consistently distracts itself with the pursuit of material wealth and a more favorable socioeconomic status. Humanity also seems to busy itself with continually worsening the condition until it becomes a big enough problem to gain any sort of mainstream media attention and legislative action.

It is inherently difficult for a person to be able to see the significance of climate change, the main issue being the large difference in time span between the individual’s life and the time it takes for any human effort to show significant impact on the advancement of climate change. A result of the different time frames, humanity becomes even less interested in combating climate change because it becomes hard to tell if any present-day action truly has any impact on climate change. It’s much easier for a person to go on living and bird watching on the weekends without having to worry about the future of the earth.

Fixing the issue of climate change isn’t easy, though. In fact, it is quite challenging, because combating it goes against human nature, specifically humanity’s near inescapable need for some sort of immediate gratification. Combating climate change is essentially the opposite of immediate gratification because the current efforts taken won’t have an easily observable benefit for the current generation. Climate change can be characterized as a problem the current generation faces, that can only be solved by previous generations. This creates a disconnect between the impacts of climate change and the action needed to successfully slow its progression. Because the problem of climate change requires humans to look generations into the future, it becomes one of the most challenging things to handle, apart from it being a problem contributed to worldwide. For forward progress to be made, it must be globally recognized that climate change is an issue that must be addressed now, for the betterment of the future of humanity.

This issue, however, isn’t simply resolved by awareness of what the problem really is. Rather, it must be resolved by action performed by everyone it affects. If current populations are able to successfully hinder the progress of climate change, then it becomes possible for future generations to be able to live life to the fullest, without having to worry about the climate crisis.

Works Cited

Lenis, P. R., & Guillermo-Ferreira, R. (2020). Effect of noise on behavioural response to simulated territorial intrusion in the Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) (Aves: Tyrannidae). Urban Ecosystems, 23(1), 93. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-019-00906-1

Llambías, P., Ferretti, V., & Pablo S. Rodríguez. (2001). Kleptoparasitism in the Great Kiskadee. The Wilson Bulletin, 113(1), 116-117. Retrieved May 8, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4164316