January 7, 2011

January 7, 2011
Dead Birds and Fish Around the World

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Friday and we have almost made it through another work week. I hope you are having a safe and great week so far.

A few days ago, I wrote a blog about birds and fish dying mysteriously in the United States. Well today, I read a story about this happening around the world which raises even more questions.

Dead fish in the Chesapeake, birds dying in Arkansas and Kentucky, thousands of crab corpses littering beaches in England.

These random incidents around the world have unleashed a flood of conspiracy theories, each proclaiming government cover ups or apocalyptic proclamations about the end of the world.

"Personally, I definitely do believe we are in the End of Days, and I believe there is a lot of evidence of that," Steve Wohlberg, an author and theologian who has written several books about the end of the world, told the Daily News.

Although he believed experts needed time to perform tests to determine how and why these animals perished, the deaths are mysteriously interesting, and part of a larger picture that indicates the world is spiraling downward towards its end.

"I am an observer of the times," said Wohlberg, who hosts a nationally syndicated radio show and has appeared on several television documentaries about the Bible and the Apocalypse. "The End of Days will have a parallel to the days of Noah," he said.

For example, Wohlberg explained, God used animals to signal the flood was approaching by having them gather two by two and enter the Ark.

"On the Earth today, there is a lot of violence, and a lot of corruption," Wohlberg said. "Indicators are flashing that there is a storm ahead of us."

Religious fears of the world's collapse are not the only theories emerging from the recent slew of animal deaths. Government coverups are also being fed, including the theory that the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program known as HAARP is behind the death of the birds.

The Alaska based facility states it is used to conduct ionospheric research, but is often blamed for causing earthquakes and storms and is described by some as a super secret weapon operated by the government.

"That has been a popular one for the last two decades," said Dr. Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and a columnist for Scientific American. "It naturally generates paranoia, it is like Area 51."

There are even reports claiming to link the suspected murder of one of the champions of the Vietnam War Memorial, John Wheeler, to the death of thousands of birds in Arkansas on New Year's Day.

The 66 year old former special assistant to the secretary of the Air Force was, according to the conspiracy theory, going to expose a link between chemical weapons and the strange incident involving thousands of red winged blackbirds.

Shermer dismisses these elaborate theories, and argues that experts have already offered up likely scenarios to explain the recent bird deaths.

"These things happen," he said, adding that "it is probably going to have more to do with the extremes in weather we have been having" than some convoluted plot.

Conspiracy theories involving religious beliefs or government coverups come and go, he said, depending on what is going on in popular culture such as movies and television.

"End of the world stuff was big in the late ’90s, and it cooled off for a while," he told the Daily News, but the movement saw a resurgence as a result of the Left Behind series of books.

The religious tales, written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, chronicle the end of the world and have been turned into a series of popular films starring Kirk Cameron.

Believers in these theories often suffer from confirmation bias, Shermer said.

It is when you look for and find confirming evidence for what you already believe, and then you dismiss conflicting evidence, he explained.

Although it could be weeks before an official explanation is reached, experts have already suggested that fireworks may have sparked the birds’ demise in Arkansas. The loud sound might have scared them, causing the birds to frantically take flight and crash into one another, then fall to the ground and die from the impacts.

An incident in Louisiana, which eerily took place shortly after the Arkansas incident and involved the same red winged blackbirds along with several other species may also have a simple explanation: power lines.

"It does sound bizarre, but it is one of the prevalent ways birds die in the US," said Michael Seymour, an ornithologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

In fact, statistics indicate that 130 million birds are killed every year by hitting power lines and cell phone towers, he said. Another 100 million die annually because of outdoor cats.

And the most common cause of bird deaths in the US? Glass doors, which kill some 500 million every year.

Seymour noted that such a large number of birds dying at once was unusual, but not unexplainable.

"The reason so many birds were killed potentially by wires in this case is because they flock in such large groups in the winter [because of the cold]," he said.

So if these flocks, which can number in the tens of thousands, get spooked, the idea that a large amount would die is understandable, he said, especially at night when visibility is limited.

However, simple explanations often fail to sway the theories.

"Whether this particular incident is one of the signs, my take is it is a possibility," Wohlberg said, although he added that when judgment day will come, no one knows.

Still, "it is very interesting," he said. "Luke 21, verse 11: 'Fearful sights and great signs shall there be from Heaven'."

So what are your thoughts on this strange phenomenon? Drop me a line and let me know.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab