Maybe nature isn’t so great after all

Geese used to be exemplars of graceful flight. Now, they’re the waddling dimwits who foul our parks. Deer used to be storybook animals come to life. Now, they divide their time between destroying gardens and spreading lyme disease. And this week’s news brought the first indication that another much-loved species is riding for a fall. According to an AP item on, evidence now indicates that the robin—not, as previously thought, the unloved crow—is a leading host species for the West Nile virus. (The discovery hinged on DNA analysis of blood taken from the abdomens of mosquitoes—and you thought you had an unpleasant job.) What, you may ask, is the AdFreak angle here? People’s sentimental love of nature has helped create the consumer constituency for all sorts of Earth-friendly brands and corporate initiatives in the past couple decades. But if formerly adorable species keep falling into disrepute, people will inevitably start to take a more jaundiced view of the natural world—and, by extension, of the “green” marketing that has pandered to our nature-loving tendencies. You’ll know the jig is up if people stop giving teddy bears to infants because real-life bears are regarded mainly as nuisances who forage in exurban town dumps.

—Posted by Mark Dolliver