INSECT APOCALYPSE

I have a confession to make. For some time now, I’ve been opening another person’s mail. Okay, it’s all junk mail (if it were anything obviously personal, I wouldn’t open it), and it’s being mistakenly delivered to me. This may still constitute some kind of violation of some federal code. But I’ve told the postman more than once that there is no John Doe (not his real name, obviously) at this address. Perhaps the mail carriers keep changing and the message of the “hold” gets lost, speaking of misplaced messages and mail. The name of the person in question isn’t even the name of the most recent person to live here before me. And it’s not the name of anyone in this Florida mobile home park or anyone who lives near here. So — I guess I’ll have to have another word with the postal person. My guess is that this John Doe is long deceased, and may he rest in peace.

But I’ve deduced that this particular John Doe, be he living or dead, is/was one of those generous people who wind up on a great many mailing lists for non-profits and charities — perhaps because they sent them money in the past — them or an agency behind a related cause. Most of these solicitations, whether for John Doe or for me — I get a slew of my own, even though I send money to relatively few — go right into the recycle bin. But some of them intrigue me and I give way to the temptation to open them up to check out the content, see what they’re all about, though usually doubting they represent any cause I’ll feel compelled to support. (A southwestern Catholic U.S. agency that supports Native American children recently sent John Doe some charming tribe-related paraphernalia, all dressed up with feathers and marking century-old customs. I nearly sent them money — until I looked at my bank account and took stock of how many extra charities I could responsibly boost without potentially bouncing checks or endangering auto-withdrawals scheduled by the folks who provide me electricity or insure my house or my car. (Another confession: I kept a pen sent by the Indian mission that was in that mailing; cheap but very colorful, and I go through a lot of pens. Some mailings that come addressed properly to me contain mailing labels. Yes, I confess, I’m inclined to keep them, and often this prompts me to send them a few dollars. ( I actually had an obsessively generous late friend who sent money to every single outfit that blindly sent appeals across his transom. His wife finally had to make certain she intercepted all those mailings; my friend’s extreme generosity was pushing them into insolvency. Charity, not to mention common sense, begins at home.)

But it was the most recent bit of junk intended for John Doe ( probably mass-mailed to John Does all across the globe) that intrigued me most. I opened it. It comes from Friends of the Earth ( a seemingly benign organization often, as it happens, unfriendly or at cross-purposes with causes I DO support, though I nonetheless consider myself a “friend of the earth.”). It solicits contributions for BeeAction.org and warns that we are facing a potential “insect apocalypse”, with 40% of invertebrate pollinators, including bees, and butterflies, on the brink of extinction.

I do like to show a ridiculous level kindness to most bugs except mosquitos, roaches and other species classified as vermin. Rather than squash or spray the random beetle or other crawler — especially the hapless, slow-moving ones who don’t even suspect they are in danger — I’ll pick them up with a piece of tissue or slide them onto a piece of cardboard and transfer them to the back yard. And bees? Even should they sting you, who doesn’t love bees? The bird — and the bees.

The written appeal enclosed with this latest mailing goes on to inform me that over 700 North American bee species are now at risk, along with their beekeepers who stand to suffer financially. They faced “their second highest losses in 14 years this past year,” according to this information.

And, of course, bees pollinate things in our food chain. We need those bees.

The culprit, it seems ,based on this mailing — and, for once, it is not global warming, aka, climate change — is a group of insecticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics. There may be other dangers, of course. But this is allegedly the chemical that could spell apocalypse for all things creepy-crawly, and death to bees.

“I make a point to live by the simple but powerful idea that I can make a difference in this world,” writes the author of the letter. And who might that be? Ed Begley, Jr. — well-known and very accomplished actor, known to both television and movie audiences and big friend of Friends of the Earth.

Another Hollywood environmental activist, and an earnest and knowledgeable one, I don’t doubt that.

I once had the pleasure of interviewing Ted Danson on a cold night in New Hampshire when he was following and campaigning for then-Presidential candidate and Vice President Al Gore. Ted, too, is among the Hollywood environmental activists. Their thespian talents, gifts from God, suddenly propel them to a worldwide platforms of this earth, and so they feel the need to use it, to save the earth, to “make a difference.”

Would that Hollywood’s and my causes overlapped more often….

It would seem, in the estimate of many scientists, that the prediction of an “insect apocalypse” is alarmist and overdone. I’ve checked this morning, and that’s what I’ve discovered, and am not surprised. Could there be a world without insects in the offing? No pollination by bees, the food chain and the beauty of our flower gardens disrupted? Summer nights without the consoling chirp of crickets? A stark, silent world to come?

I don’t know. I surely don’t. Hollywood is capable of making such a horrifying movie. They could produce an apocalyptic vision in which insects disappeared, then global warming and rising tides engulfed us all.

But, again, I don’t know about all this.

Nor do I know whether John Doe, possibly a former occupant of this very house where I sit, was into saving the earth and its important bug population. Maybe he wound up on everyone’s mailing list, regardless of his own interests and predilections. It is beginning to seem thus, speaking as one who is getting John Doe’s junk mail. I’ll likely get some addressed to me as well today, and most of his and mine will go to support another of Ed Begley, Jr.’s causes — recycling.

Instead of getting too buggy about this particular potential apocalypse, I think I’ll just wait to see what new cause John Doe’s stream of junk mail brings me today so, potentially, I could obsess on that.

The postman (he IS a man) will be here any minute. (And, sadly, I might just have to end the mystery missives and tell him (again) that John Doe doesn’t live here.

But why end the mystery? And the fun?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s