Imagine you are living in the year 1800. You look up and see a dark line emerging from the horizon at 12:00 p.m. The mile-wide line crawls across the sky, blotting out the sun, forming a massive shadow across the land. It is a flock of passenger pigeons traveling at 60 miles per hour. They form a line that connects the southern horizon to the northern horizon, and the sound of their wings sounds is like thunder.
You finish your lunch and go back to working in your field. Every time you look up, you see that line as the flock flies overheard for the next FIVE FUCKING hours, because it’s 300 miles long. That’s almost half the length of the state of California.
Now imagine it is still 1800 and you are in San Diego. You are a ghost who starts flying north, skimming the ground at 60 mph, flying through what appears to be a blizzard. Only it isn’t. It’s a swarm of Rocky Mountain Locusts.
You fly up to 30,000 feet, so you can see 230 miles, which is half the width of California. For the next 13 hours, you travel the length of the entire state. You pass San Diego, L.A., the San Joaquin Valley, the Bay Area, the Sierras and up to Mt. Shasta.
The whole time, for as far as your eyes can see, EVERYTHING is covered in locusts. The ENTIRE FUCKING STATE is covered in locusts.
Take a moment to try to imagine how awesomely terrifying that would be.
Fast forward to 1845. The Rocky Mountain Locusts are all gone. Farmers plowed up their spawning ground.
Jump to 1914, and the last passenger pigeon, Martha, dies on September 1, 1914.
Now jump to the modern-day. Elephants have ape level intelligence, can hear storms coming 100 miles away, self recognize in mirrors and more. Their numbers have plummeted over the past 150 years. Will they suffer the same fate as the passenger pigeon?
In one of the most miraculous of all migrations, monarch butterflies take four generations to travel from the forests of Mexico to the Great Lakes and back. How do “dumb” butterflies know how to navigate 3,000 miles to a place they’ve never been, and then return home?
100 years ago they covered 50 acres of forest, but Mexican loggers have destroyed their ancestral home and now they only cover ½ an acre. Will they go extinct like the Rocky Mountain Locust?
After decades of studying this problem, I’m pretty sure the only thing that can save them is stories.
Stories make us care. They evoke emotion, and emotion leads to action.
Nothing is more powerful than a good story.
Now the only question is how do we tell stories that are good enough to save them, and then spread them fast enough to do something about it?
That’s my quest.
If you want to help, then retell these stories.