Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The felinocene(?!) -- Cats as invasive species

From a paper published in Nature last year but featured by the BBC today:
Cats are one of the top threats to US wildlife, killing billions of animals each year, a study suggests. 
The authors estimate they are responsible for the deaths of between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals annually.
The abstract to the Nature paper concludes:
Un-owned cats, as opposed to owned pets, cause the majority of this mortality. Our findings suggest that free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals. Scientifically sound conservation and policy intervention is needed to reduce this impact.
A nice reminder in yet another ecological arena that anthropogenic doesn't mean 'human controlled.' The perturbatory ripples issuing out from our actions rapidly attain shapes, patterns and magnitudes almost unrecognisable to us as they are amplified by processes and agents with aims and objectives entirely their own.


  1. where does the idea that anthro-pocene is about control vs cause/harm come from?
    people keep bringing it up but I've never seen it used that way except in these sorts of objections by anti-humanists?

  2. I wasn't really thinking of anyone in particular (just idly rambling, really). Nigel Clark's inhuman nature thing says something similar, but not in relation to the Anthropocene exactly. His argument is that the whole eco-constructivist discourse overestimates human agency and suggests that the world is infinitely recomposable. However, I'd also mention (writing from the opposite perspective to Clark) Mark Lynas and his book 'The God Species.' For him Anthropocene means at least potentially that human beings can become gods and master nature, at least in a neoliberal, managerial sense. See also Erle Ellis and those who insist that the Anthropocene is a good thing. They certainly understand that it's about unintended consequences but for them it's also about the Promethean ambition, mastering the planet through technology, etc. So, perhaps nobody thinks that it's straightforwardly about already attained mastery but there's a lot of that kind of thinking about.

  3. yes thanks i get the more promethean thing but what about those like:

  4. Ah yes I see what you mean. I was aware of these questions but dimly. Not sure that I have anything to add to them but thanks for the link!