The eminent biologist, E.O. Wilson, has proposed a Latin name Eremocene, which translated means “The Age of Loneliness,” for the coming time in which human beings have extinguished the majority of the other life forms on earth. 
This summer my wife and I drove from Napa to our home in Idaho, taking the roundabout way across Nevada on US Highway 50, a beautifully empty two lane road across the high basin and range country. We stopped overnight in a little town in the middle of the state. As is my habit on long trips, I bought gas upon arrival in the evening, rather than wait until the next day. I was cleaning the windshield, and noticed that, for all the distance we had travelled, there really weren’t many bugs to clean off. It came to me then the memory of another trip across Highway 50, some forty-five years ago, more or less, when I had to stop every hour to clean the windshield in order to see well enough to drive. What has happened?
Later this summer it was nearly cherry time in the orchard. The wonderful Lapin cherries were ripening, but I was concerned to see that the trees had not been netted. I knew beyond a doubt that there would hardly be enough for one pie, as the birds love the cherries as much as I do, and had stripped the trees bare many years before until we had began to net them every year. Imagine my astonishment when I saw each morning cherries fully ripe for the picking on the trees. Where were the birds? There were a few, but not so many. And it was later in the summer that my wife remarked about the lack of birdsong at dawn, compared to 15 years ago, when we had first moved in.
In just my lifetime the signs are appearing that the Eremocene is not simply a name for some future time, but has already begun. The tragedy is many fold. But I wonder if there is one tragedy in this coming time that I don’t often consider. I wonder if the earth itself needs all of the warp and weft of the fabric of living things for its own purpose. Gaia? What harm are we doing that is beyond our ability to ever understand? Can the termites infesting an ancient temple possibly understand the reason for the creation of the temple? It is a question of scale, not in size, but in consciousness. Currently, the worldwide total biomass of all land mammals is estimated to be divided as follows: humans 32%, domestic animals 66%, wildlife 2%. 
“If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to the man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth.”
   — Chief Joseph
Friends, it is good to be back, your comments are welcome. 


  1. Welcome back!! As always I have enjoyed reading your thoughts-& inspired to think deeper then my Day normally requires.

    I too have noticed a decline of dead bugs on my windshield, & other changes in nature. Are we in the last days? Or is there a new metamorphose occurring?

  2. And so good to hear from you, as well, Mitzi. I don’t have an opinion about “the last days”, but it is sadly the end times for so many of our fellow travelers, all of the animals and plants now gone. Be well.

  3. We miss sitting outside in the morning listening to a symphony of songs instead of the solos that now fill the morning air.

  4. And what would have the symphony sounded like a hundred years ago? We have only stories. In the eastern woods millions upon millions of passenger pigeons, now one left, stuffed and mounted. Is it only an environmental issue, or is our spiritual possibility also diminished by this silence? I do not know.

  5. Such a poignant piece. I have a friend who grew up near the Lochsa river, and she recounted how the sound of the salmon coming up the river kept her up at night. Now, none at all come. We hardly have a string of elders enough to recount to the coming generations what “normal” really is. How impoverished we are, to hardly notice the change. I hadn’t thought about the bug-on-windshield issue until you remembered it for me. Our cherry tree, heavy with harvest this year, barely was touched by birds as well, even when we’d left for a 10 day trip before harvest was over. Let us all listen, look, and deepen into this awareness together.

  6. Thank you, Patti. I suspect that part of our lack of knowledge about all the changes is due to our mobility and the mobility of our predecessors. There is rarely anyone whose parents and grandparents lived in the same place as they. Even if there is the exception, there is no longer an oral tradition of passing on that place based history. If there was, we would then better understood the tragedy. It is good to hear from you. Be well, friend.