Benvignùo*, friend, to the 50th edition of the earth.fm newsletter! 🎉
What is acoustic aposematism? How can environmentalism benefit from the Indigenous insight embodied by writers and thinkers such as Robin Wall Kimmerer? Why is Uganda cracking down on climate protests? And how can we prevent the innumerable deaths of migratory birds caused by nighttime collisions with illuminated buildings?
Read on to find out.
*‘Welcome’ in the northeastern Italian Venetan dialect.
Soundscape of the week
A short but oh-so-sweet recording this week: a nightingale – a ‘night songstress’ – lives up to the name it has been known by for more than a thousand years. However, the Old English assumption that the female bird was responsible for the species’ nocturnal song is now known to be incorrect; it is in fact unpaired males which sing regularly at night, presumably to attract a mate.
Marco Pesente – a nature-soundscape devotee for more than 50 years – notes that the phrases of these birds’ nighttime calls are typically shorter, less frenetic, and better articulated than during the daytime, adding to the dazzling lucidity of this all-too-brief snippet of song.
Articles and essays
🦨 “In the natural world, aposematism refers to traits which have developed evolutionarily in organisms to prevent attacks from predators. These function by signaling that it would not be profitable to prey upon the organism in question.”
Examples of visual aposematism include honey badgers’ reverse countershading and the adoption of particularly vibrant colors by chameleonic cuttlefish, while species as varied as skunks and ladybugs use off-putting odors for the same effect. A new entry in the earth.fm glossary tackles acoustic aposematism, giving examples of species which instead use sound to alert predators that they would not make an appetizing meal. Examples range from rattlesnakes to caterpillars, moths, and certain wasps.
🌴 “Enjoy this soothing calm calling of birds in the Ankasa rainforest with calm water rushing in the background. The thick canopy of the trees shielded me from the hot sunshine in the tropical rainforest as I recorded these sounds”…
By playing ‘Relaxing Ghana Rainforest’, the latest episode of the Wind Is the Original Radio podcast, listeners can approximate some of what earth.fm Grant-winner Isaac Amoasi Arkoh experienced while recording it: the buzz of insects punctuated by a variety of bird (and anuran?) calls.
From the extended community
🌍 Further to the article shared in newsletter #48 which showed the global reach of anti-environmentalism think tank the Atlas Network: alarming reports of a heavy-handed Ugandan response to a protest against the 897 mile (1,443 km) East African Crude Oil Pipeline. EACOP is predicted to significantly contribute to global warming, as well as “pos[ing] high risks of freshwater pollution and degradation [and] caus[ing] irreversible damage to biodiversity, natural habitats and water sources”.
Student protestors were barred entry to parliament, beaten, jailed, and charged with public nuisance. Since 2010, the Ugandan government has introduced anti-protest legislation in response to climate and environmental activism, “placed cumbersome requirements on non-profits”, and deregistered over 50 such organizations which were “working on human rights, environmental and climate issues and anti-corruption”.
✍️ “The Indigenous worldview originates from the fact that humans are slightly inferior. We are the little brothers of Creation, and as little brothers, we must learn from our older brothers: the plants, the eagle, the deer or the frog. Isn’t that beautiful, as well as true?”
This profile of botanist, author, and professor Robin Wall Kimmerer – the second in a series of primers on nature writers – introduces the woman behind Braiding Sweetgrass, which blended “the three different types of knowledge that she treasures: scientific, spiritual and her personal experience as a woman, mother and Indigenous American”. The piece highlights her “enormous and sincere humility” in the face of the natural world, as well as valuable concepts such as a “grammar of animacy”, a “democracy of species”, and “a gift relationship with nature”.
🐦 “Every spring and fall, billions of birds migrate through the US, the majority of them flying at night, navigating with the night sky. This mass movement of birds must contend with a dramatically increasing but still largely unrecognized threat: light pollution. An estimated one billion birds are killed annually from direct collisions with illuminated buildings, towers, and other structures across the country.”
Stand with the National Audubon Society by signing and sharing their Turn Lights Out for Migrating Birds petition, which “call[s] on building owners, managers, and homeowners to turn off excess lighting during the months of bird migration to help ensure birds have a safe passage between their nesting and wintering grounds”. The petition also includes tips to limit the negative impacts of light pollution on migratory birds – advice which can be followed no matter where you are based.
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