, 8 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Like others, I've been thrilled by the sonar-spotting of a monster 14-foot sturgeon swimming around the Hudson River.

It's like a relic from an earlier era.

But it got me thinking how recently that earlier era ended & how little we remember it.


2. One of the things that astonished me, when first studying environmental history in my youth, was how freaking prolific and magnificent wildlife was, not that long ago.

You don't have to go back to the Pleistocene megafauna, either...
3. Here in California—before Europeans arrived—it's estimated that more than 10,000 grizzly bears ranged across the valleys and mountains.

Ten thousand!

There's a reason why one's on the state flag...
4. But they weren't alone. Half a million tule elk grazed here. tens of thousands of beaver, otter, minks and seals; huge flocks of migrating birds; thousands of condors, soaring overhead with their 9-foot wingspans.
5. Don't even get me started on salmon!

More than a million salmon used to migrate through San Francisco Bay each year.

Tens of millions of ran up and down the West Coast.

So many salmon that they served as a giant conveyor belt, bringing ocean nutrients to mountain forests.
6. But California wasn't especially unique.

Massive migrations of sea turtles. A billion passenger pigeons. The vastness of buffalo herds. The common howl of wolves. There may have been three million elephants.

Staggering abundance, everywhere.
7. We live in the absence of abundance. We live in the silence. We live amidst what W.S. Merwin called "the great departure."

But it doesn't have to be that way. Even now, we could choose to restore abundance, choose the hum of life, even on a changing planet in a chaotic time.
8. Our children, and their children, and their children could live in the time of the great return.

If we chose to make it so.

Given the joy a single very large fish seems to have brought us, maybe that's a choice we'll make.

I'm not above hoping.
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