Are Recent Animal Disease Outbreaks Linked?

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A number of backyard creatures are finding survival a bit more difficult these days. White-nose syndrome has already been linked to more than 5.5 million bat deaths in North America, in what the US Fish & Wildlife Service has called the “worst wildlife health crisis in memory.” Frog populations have seen an increased number of deaths due to a fungal disease. And honeybee populations have also been in decline in recent years due to colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon whose cause scientists are still trying to figure out.   

A recent article in Discovery News reports that some experts have come to suspect that the diseases spurring these population declines may be linked. Researchers list a number of potential factors that might be causing these species to be more susceptible to disease, like habitat loss, climate change, and pesticide use:

“It appears that many species are under an immense amount of stress, allowing opportunistic diseases to take hold,” Rob Mies, executive director of the Organization for Bat Conservation, told Discovery News. “Life is far more complex, so a single cause is likely not the only explanation for the bat, bee and frog deaths. There could be five, six or more factors involved.” 

The Discovery article notes the importance of these species to the nation’s agriculture industry:

Both bees and bats are critical to agriculture. Bats, like bees, can help to pollinate. They are also a primary predator of agricultural and other insect pests, such as mosquitoes. Frogs additionally consume insect pests.

Even if you don’t care about bats, bees, or frogs, you probably do care about food. Which makes these deaths—and their cause—a big concern.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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